Medical students launch UK-wide favour scheme for NHS staff

A group of medical students have launched a one-stop shop support scheme for NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Requests: NHS staff have been helped with childcare, shopping, pet care and prescription pick-ups.
Requests: NHS staff have been helped with childcare, shopping, pet care and prescription pick-ups.

A group of medical students have launched a one-stop shop support scheme for NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The model was launched in Dundee earlier this week but has already been joined by 37 other institutions.

Organisers hope the Health Students Helping in Pandemics (HealthSHIP) website will now be adopted across the UK and Ireland.

NHS workers can request support in the form of childcare, food, shopping and pet care.

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The requests are put out to medical student volunteers in the local area who have signed up and the requests are matched up with someone who can help.

The scheme was founded by a group of medical students from Dundee University and a team of lawyers who volunteered their time in order to green light the terms and conditions and privacy aspects of the scheme.

HealthSHIP was launched on Sunday and already has more than 500 sign-ups with dozens of tasks completed or under way.

Second year medical student Cassandra Baiano, one of HealthSHIP’s founders, said: “I was sitting in bed thinking about the pandemic and wondering what I was going to do for the next three months.

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“I have no classes to attend and although I want to help in the hospitals I can’t, because I’m only a second year student. It struck me that there are a lot of us in this situation.

“Medical students are in a good position because we’ve had the background and disclosure checks, we got our PVG certificates, we’ve all had CPR training and at least some form of first aid training. We’ve all had infection control training and we’re used to caring for people through our learning experiences.

“We are also very aligned with our colleagues on the frontline. We will be doing that role one day so we’re in a position to support them.”

Cassandra, web developer Ronald MacDonald and their team of volunteers decided to build a website which could be searched by location. They then teamed up with the UK-wide National Health Supporters group to spread the word.

Each user creates a profile with contact details the and first part of their postcode plus a short biography. Only NHS staff and students can register via their verified work and student email accounts.

Cassandra explains: “You go to homepage and you can click ‘I need help’. You then input the date, time and location you need help in, and a description of what you need.

“Your post goes up on a board and students, who also have a profile, can filter requests by location. The student can view the person’s profile and they can click to offer help.

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“That offer goes to the staff member. They can look at the student’s profile and decide if they want to accept that offer of help.

“If they do, the contact details are exchanged and from that point onwards it’s arranged off the platform.”

“So far the requests have been mostly babysitting, petcare and grocery shopping,” added Cassandra.

“We’ve also had requests to pick up medication. This is something that I think we will get more of so we are in discussions with pharmacies about potentially doing medication drop-offs for them. Only PVG-checked students would be doing that, but it would a great way of helping.

“We worked really heard to create something that is free, easy to use and scalable. This is a community asset purely to help people.

“It’s been a real team effort with lots of volunteers from the online community getting in touch to help. It is nice to see something positive coming out of this difficult time.”

Coronavirus: Highest number of deaths recorded since May

Another 28 people have died with Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, as a further 1739 positive cases are confirmed.

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Another 28 people have died with coronavirus in Scotland, the highest daily rise since May 21.

The country also recorded 1739 new cases, representing 19.8% of people newly tested and 9.7% of the total number of tests carried out.

The total number of positive cases in Scotland since the start of the pandemic now stands at 50,903.

Of the new cases, 605 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 520 in Lanarkshire, 250 in Lothian and 105 in Ayrshire and Arran.

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There are 873 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, up by 49 in 24 hours.

Of these patients, 73 are in intensive care, a rise of three.

The death toll under the measure of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days has risen to 2653.

Separate weekly figures released by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show that, as of October 18, 4376 deaths have been registered in Scotland.

Between October 12-18, 75 deaths were registered that mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, representing an increase of 50 deaths from the previous week – the highest weekly total since early June.

Of those deaths, more than three quarters occurred in hospitals, representing 58 deaths, 12 occurred in care homes, and five at home or in a non-institutional setting.

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The NRS figures record all deaths linked to coronavirus – including instances where Covid-19 was cited on the death certificate, whether it was the cause or a contributing factor.

They also contain all deaths where the person was suspected to have the virus, even if they never took a test to confirm it.

The total number of all-cause deaths registered in the week ending October 18 was 1,129, six percent higher than the average over the previous five years.

Pub and restaurant restrictions extended by a week

Pubs and restaurants in central Scotland will not be able to open before November 2.

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Coronavirus restrictions on pubs and restaurants have been extended by a week.

A ban on indoor home visits and travel guidance urging people to stay in their health board area will also remain in place until at least November 2, when a new tiered system of lockdown rules begins.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that while there was “cautious optimism” the restrictions were working, ministers were told by advisers it would not be safe to lift the measures from Monday, October 26.

Coronavirus has claimed the lives of 28 people in Scotland over the past 24 hours, with more than 1700 cases recorded.

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Pubs and restaurants in central Scotland were all but closed – except for takeaway services – from October 9 to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Cafes across the five central health board regions – Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley – have been exempt from the shutdown as long as they do not serve alcohol.

Across the rest of Scotland, pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes have only been able to operate indoors between the hours of 6am and 6pm. They have been prohibited from serving alcohol inside, but can still serve drinks outdoors until 10pm.

The Scottish Government has also asked residents in central Scotland to “think carefully” before travelling outwith their health board area.

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Announcing the extension at her daily briefing, Sturgeon said: “It allows us to transition more smoothly to the new levels system that we hope will be introduced on November 2.”

Financial support will be extended to help businesses affected by the extension of restrictions.

The First Minister added that she understood the move was “harsh” financially and emotionally.

She said: “I know all of this is really unwelcome and I know that these restrictions are harsh.

“They are harsh financially for many individuals and businesses, and they are harsh emotionally for all of us.

“I want to stress again that none of these decisions are being taken lightly – this is all about trying to save lives and minimise the health damage that we know this virus is capable of doing.”

The hospitality industry fears the extension will have “devastating consequences”.

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Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: “With current restrictions remaining in place until November 2, and no indication of what the new tier system will entail, the financial support package must be increased or countless venues will be forced to close for good, and tens of thousands of people will lose their jobs.”

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said “there’s no hiding the fact that today’s extension won’t go down well with many firms”.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, added: “We asked ministers to clarify whether the current hospitality restrictions would be lifted next week.

“Hopefully today’s announcement has come early enough to prevent independent pub and restaurants ordering unnecessary stock, disappointing customers or confusing staff.”


Rapist who filmed sex attack given life sentence

Kevin Oliver attacked the 47-year-old for hours at her Ayrshire home during a violent murder bid.

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Kevin Oliver was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow.

A bodybuilder who filmed himself torturing and raping a woman during a murder bid has been given a life sentence.

Kevin Oliver made the 47-year-old suffer for hours at her home in Troon, Ayrshire, in October 2018.

The mum feared she was going to die as he battered, abused and humiliated her.

Oliver, 32, filmed the attack on his mobile phone. Footage from the incident was played to jurors at the High Court in Glasgow.

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One detective told how she had never witnessed anything like it in her 15-year career.

Oliver returned to the dock on Wednesday having earlier been convicted of assault, rape and attempted murder.

Lord Armstrong imposed an Order for Lifelong Restriction. Oliver must also serve a minimum five years behind bars.

The rape victim told how she initially felt “sorry” for Oliver before she started dating him in 2017.

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In June 2018, the woman had to beg Oliver for ‘permission’ to meet a friend.

He only agreed if she went to the same pub as him – and that she had to wear a cardigan to cover bruises he caused.

After returning home, the woman feared Oliver was going to “snap” her neck. She ended up with a dislocated jaw after he grabbed her face tightly.

In October 2018, the pair went out in Glasgow before returning to her home.

When the woman then refused to have a gin with Oliver, he put her through the violent ordeal.

The sobbing victim recalled: “He was on top of me and he stripped me. I was telling him to stop.

“He was saying: ‘I am going to teach you a lesson. You are my property’. He said he was going to torture me.”

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Prosecutor Bill McVicar asked the witness: “How long did this go on for?” She replied: “Hours.”

‘I just thought that I was going to die.’

Victim

The terrified woman was physically assaulted, raped and tied up.

She told Mr McVicar: “He repeated all the things that he did in each room of the house. I just thought that I was going to die.”

Oliver also dragged the screaming victim into the bath. She said: “He was pushing my face in the water … in and out. He was trying to drown me.”

The woman was locked in a cupboard for being “disobedient”.

Mr McVicar asked did she recall Oliver filming what he was doing. She replied: “I believe he did. He was taking pictures and videos.”

Clips played during the trial showing the woman being mocked as she was forced to carry out degrading acts.

Detective sergeant Claire Jack was one of the officers who later viewed the footage

His QC Iain McSporran asked her: “Have you ever seen anything quite like that?”

She replied: “Not in relation to another adult, no.”

The court heard the victim managed to sneak out after Oliver fell asleep. But, even after he was held on remand, he continued to harass her.

She told him: “I am petrified of you. I don’t want to see you again. Leave me alone.”

Oliver was also convicted of causing the victim fear and alarm with prison letters and phone calls.

He had earlier sexually assaulted a second woman at his then home in September 2017.


Young mum-of-six dies just months after cancer diagnosis

Holly Blake was told in August she had less than a month to live after doctors said she had a rare form of sarcoma.

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Holly Blake was a mum to six children.

A 35-year-old mum-of-six has died with her loved ones at her side, just months after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Holly Blake was told in August she had less than a month to live after doctors said a rare form of sarcoma had spread throughout her body.

Holly, from Edinburgh, gave up her job as a digital facilitator as she underwent her third-round of chemotherapy at the capital’s Western General Hospital.

Holly’s partner Niccolas Scott, 32, proposed to her on the same day that she received her devastating diagnosis.

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The couple got married on Leith Links in August alongside her children Eli, Poppy, twins Daisy and Pippa, and youngest twins Edward and Primrose.

The family put their own eccentric spin on the wedding dress code, with Holly wearing a white dress with trainers, while her sons Eli and Edward wore Hibernian FC tartan kilts with t-shirts and trainers.

A message posted on a Just Giving page set up by Holly’s aunt Christine Longridge on Wednesday morning said: “Our beautiful Holly’s soul left our lives and took her place among the stars at 4.05am Sunday October 18.

“It was a still Edinburgh morning with Robin’s singing in the trees, she passed peacefully in comfort with her mum and husband by her side

“Words can not express how grateful we are for all your donations.”

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The Just Giving page has exceeded its original target, raising more than £22,000 so far.

Beauty spot searched after blood-stained clothing found

Officers were made aware of the discovery at Corstorphine Hill, Edinbrugh, on Tuesday morning.

Ross MacDonald / SNS Group via SNS Group
Police: Blood-stained item found in woodland.

Police are searching woodland in Edinburgh following the discovery of a blood-stained item of clothing.

Officers were made aware of the find at Corstorphine Hill on Tuesday morning, around 9.35am.

The item has been sent to the lab for further analysis.

A police spokeswoman said: “Examination of the item will be carried out to confirm what it is and officers are carrying out a search of the area.”

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No other related items were found at the site, police added.

An investigation into the discovery is ongoing.


Five care home residents die after Covid-19 outbreak

Five care home residents have died in a coronavirus outbreak.

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Charnwood Lodge: Outbreak at care home.

Five people have died following an outbreak of coronavirus at a care home in Dumfries.

All five were residents at Charnwood Lodge on Annan Road.

Community Integrated Care, the charity which runs the home, said it took immediate action by conducting a full decontamination and “implementing a number of additional robust infection control measures”.

It said it was now working closely with Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership to support residents and families.

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Martin McGuigan, managing director at Community Integrated Care, said: “As soon as the outbreak developed, we took immediate action. We conducted a full decontamination of the home and implemented a number of additional robust infection control measures.

“It is, however, with great sadness that we have lost five people we support as a result of the virus and our hearts go out to their loved ones, as well as our colleagues.

“We have been astounded by the incredible efforts and professionalism of the entire staff team who have done their utmost to support residents, families and each other through this incredibly challenging time.

“We will continue to work closely with the local authority and public health teams to ensure that we are taking all necessary steps to protect everyone within the home and provide the practical and emotional support needed.”

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Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership, which involves the NHS, the council and the third and independent sectors, urged everyone to do their part to limit the spread of the virus.

A partnership spokesman said: “This has been proving a very difficult and concerning situation, but we would note the dedication of Community Integrated Care and their staff at Charnwood Lodge in their response.

“Work was undertaken to contain the spread of Covid-19, and this has not been an easy task against this highly infectious virus.

“This outbreak has again demonstrated just how highly transmissible the Covid-19 virus is, even when the correct protocols are being observed.

“Covid-19 can result in mild symptoms, and sometimes none at all. This can mask its spread to more vulnerable individuals where it can pose a very significant risk.

“Following the guidance around the use of PPE (including face coverings), around physical distancing and good hygiene remains absolutely vital in reducing risk – but these are by no means an absolute guarantee of protection.

“These tools are quite simply the best measures which currently exist to help reduce the risk as much as possible, and help limit the spread of the coronavirus.”

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MSP Joan McAlpine, who represents the area in Holyrood, released a statement on social media on Tuesday night.

She said: “I have just received a briefing from Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership about the outbreak of Covid-19 at Charnwood Lodge Care home in Dumfries.

“Sadly it informs us that five people have now died at the home, in circumstances where COVID-19 was present.

“My deepest condolences go to their loved ones and it goes without saying that I stand ready as one of your local MSPs with any assistance I can offer.

“Community Integrated Care, the charity who run the home, are working closely with DGSCP to support residents and their families.

“The partnership have paid tribute to the dedication of the charity and its staff at a terribly difficult time and says the outbreak demonstrates “how highly transmissible the COVID-19 virus is.

“This is awful news and shows how important it is that we suppress this terrible virus. I am contacting the health and social care partnership for more details.”


Medical students warned to stay away from drug consumption van

The University of Glasgow said the students' 'future careers' are at risk if they continue to volunteer.

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Glasgow: Peter Krykant is determined to continue operating the service.

Medical students have been warned that their future careers are “at risk” if they continue to help out with Scotland’s first mobile drug consumption van.

Glasgow University said it had a “duty to warn” its students over voluntary activity that could lead to “serious consequences”.

In a letter sent out this week, medical school bosses said they had been contacted by concerned colleagues at Glasgow Alcohol and Drug Recovery Services in regards to students serving as volunteers on the van.

Although the university does not intend to investigate the matter further and has “no desire” to dictate what students do in their spare time, medical school chiefs stated: “We do, however, have a duty to warn you in clear and unequivocal terms when voluntary activity may carry serious consequences for your future careers.”

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Dangerous: A Glasgow alleyway littered with drug paraphernalia.
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Peter Krykant, the man behind the van, is determined to continue operating the service within Glasgow city centre despite risk of prosecution.

He has modified a minibus into a facility where he says addicts will be able to safely take drugs under supervision. 

He hopes it will prevent overdoses and blood-borne viruses among users.

As well as clean needles and harm reduction advice, there are also medical supplies on board – including naloxone, which is used to reverse a potentially-fatal overdose.

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The van has been set up as Scotland tops the chart for the highest drug deaths in the EU and as Glasgow tackles its worst HIV outbreak in 30 years.

Mr Krykant launched the service despite previous calls for a legal consumption room in the city being rejected by the Home Office.

He has been warned that running such a facility puts him at risk of committing offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

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Police: Officers on the lookout for illegal activity.

In the letter to the medical students, Professor Matthew Walters and Professor John Paul Leach stated that the NHS does not condone or endorse the van.

Professor Walters, the head of the School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing, and Prof Leach, the head of the Undergraduate Medical School, also highlighted that volunteers could face charges if something goes wrong.

They warned: “As MBChB students studying on a programme leading to a GMC-registrable primary medical qualification you are subject to professionalism and Fitness to Practise standards. These apply to both your professional and personal behaviours. 

“As such, any criminal charges would be followed by a Fitness to Practise process and, no matter the outcome, further review by the General Medical Council prior to registration.

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“If you are thinking about volunteering, please consider these risks, and the good you can do over the span of a lifetime in medicine. 

“At this very early stage we would advise you not to risk your career and your huge potential to make positive change.”

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Injecting: One woman previously told STV News she took drugs ‘to forget’.

A spokesperson from the University of Glasgow told STV News that medical students are encouraged to undertake extracurricular activities which benefit the community.

However, they added: “As the drug consumption van project is not supported by the NHS or compatible with current legislation, we have advised them against participation.”

In response to the university’s stance, Mr Krykant said he understood the need to keep students safe and advise them on any activity that could impact their studies.

However, he stated that the medical department has commented on areas that it is “clearly not educated on”.

Highlighting a section in the letter that said the “Scottish judicial system regards engagement with services of this nature as participation in the supply of controlled substances”, Mr Krykant stated: “I would challenge them to point to the area of law that states the running of a drug consumption room is concerned in the supply of controlled substances.

“It is also clear that unless our future doctors and nurses are allowed to engage with those most marginalised, then society has a long way to go before we see real changes.”


I went undercover on the ‘Wine Alley’ to tackle drug problem

Ex-undercover police officer Simon McLean has written about his experience tackling Glasgow's drug problem during the 80s.

Simon McLean via Email

Former undercover drugs police officer Simon McLean spent years tackling Glasgow’s growing drug problem in the early 80s. 

He spent 17 years targeting supply in the Govan area, often posing as a dealer himself to infiltrate high-level crime gangs.

Being part of Glasgow’s serious crime squad was Simon’s ultimate goal.

“We were dealing through the letter box to the punters that would come in, and from that it took us to Renfrew, Ayrshire, Greenock,” he said.

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“We recovered firearms, huge amounts of drugs and information. 

“We were never chasing drug users. They were only a route to the drug dealers, suppliers, manufacturers and importers.”

Simon says at the time there was very little known about distribution but he recognised it was behind most of the crime in the area.

“The police were totally oblivious to it. Not only oblivious but deliberately ignored it. Didn’t think it was a police matter.”

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He secured funding for Scotland’s first public ‘tip off line’, which led to undercover operations in an area known as Wine Alley, which is only a few hundred yards for the former Orkney Street police station.

“I’d go to my work [as a police officer] in the morning then in the afternoon I’d sell drugs in the Wine Alley,” Simon said.

‘We had all this heroin that we had to do something with. We buried the heroin and that’s the last we saw of it.’

Simon McLean

In one incident, the team buried a haul of heroin in exchange for information from a dealer.

“We recovered a huge amount of heroin. The deal was we would lose this quantity and he wouldn’t be charged if he gave us the information we sought,” Simon said.

“That all led to a big bust down in Greenock with a ship coming in. But we had all this heroin that we had to do something with.

“We buried the heroin and that’s the last we saw of it.”

Simon is speaking out about his experiences as he launches his memoir following his policing career.

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The Ten Percent follows his policing career from his first posting in Campbeltown to detective on Rothesay, serious crime squad in Glasgow to undercover drugs officer in Govan.  

While Simon believed at the time the team was making a difference, he has concerns about Scotland’s continuing drugs problem.

“The sad thing is we thought we were making a difference but we patently weren’t because I can hand on heart tell you that those problems are still as prevalent in Scotland now and our prisons are full of low level drug users,” he said.

“We need to look at this from a different place than this ‘war on drugs’ that we talk about which hasn’t worked for 40 years.”


Elderly woman dies in crash that also left driver injured

The woman was a passenger in the car when it left the road and struck a tree.

An elderly woman has died after a car left the road and struck a tree in Fife.

The 74-year-old passenger suffered fatal injuries in the crash on A985 at Cairneyhill on Monday.

A man who was driving the car, also 74, has been left with serious injuries.

Emergency services attended the scene and both pensioners were taken to hospital.

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The woman died two days later and the man remains in hospital in a serious condition.

Officers investigating the incident are appealing for information.

A spokesman said: “Anyone who was driving on the road around the time of the crash who has dash-cam footage is asked to call Police Scotland on 101,”


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