Testing concerns may ‘see care home visitation rules remain’

Scottish Care chief executive warns there will be 'very many challenges' this winter.

The Scottish Government has relaxed visitation limits at care homes. SNS Group via SNS Group
The Scottish Government has relaxed visitation limits at care homes.

Care homes across Scotland may not ease visiting restrictions due to fears over coronavirus testing, the head of an industry body has claimed.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman announced on Monday that limits on visitation would be lifted, including allowing up to six people from two different households to meet a resident outdoors, increasing the length of indoor visits from 30 minutes to four hours and allowing residents and their families to hold hands.

But Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, said some of his members may not allow such visits over concerns about testing, including long waits for the results of weekly tests conducted on staff.

He is also pushing for the testing of residents’ families before they can visit, something First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would consider.

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He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “I think it’s really important that when we are entering what is a really emotional and difficult discussion around visiting, that we remember the people that we’re focused on and that is the residents.

“We’ve got to balance keeping them safe and introducing more visits into the care home.

“Some organisations may make the decision locally that they, because of their experience with poor testing, do not have the confidence that they are not increasing the risk to the resident.”

Mr Macaskill said decisions on visitation should be taken by homes themselves in consultation with patients and their families, to avoid staff and providers being “set against” those they are caring for.

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He added: “We’ve got to get through this winter together, there are going to be very many challenges, but one thing we’re very clear of is we’ve got to get testing sorted and ideally we’ve got to increase it and we’ve got to get family members tested.

“Let’s invest in testing, that includes the sector but also wider society so we can get people connected up again.”

The Scottish Government has said it will take control of the weekly care home testing regime, which is currently carried out at the UK Government’s facilities in Scotland.

Mr Macaskill welcomed the decision, but added the change could take some time to be implemented.

He said: “It’s unfortunate that having worked quite successfully in the summer, just at the time that we’re seeing cases rise in the community, the testing system is still so fragile.”

He said it could take until the middle or end of November for all tests to be moved into Scottish Government control.

On Tuesday, Balhousie Care Group announced it will not relax visiting restrictions in its 25 homes until reassurances are given over testing and other infection control measures.

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The firm’s chairman Tony Banks also described the move as “premature and ill-thought-out”.

From end-of-life care to feeling ‘fantastic’ thanks to new drug

Hailey Mann is living with cystic fibrosis but her life has completely transformed after receiving Kaftrio.

STV News / STV News
Hailey Mann is living with cystic fibrosis but her life has completely transformed after receiving Kaftrio.

A woman with cystic fibrosis says she’s feeling ‘fantastic’ just a year on from preparing to receive end-of-life care.

Hailey Mann, 25, had potentially just months left to live when was given the new drug Kaftrio on compassionate grounds last summer, several weeks before it was approved for widespread use by the Scottish Government a year ago.

Fast-forward 12 months and Hailey’s outlook has improved considerably thanks to the revolutionary medicine.

“I don’t know what I expected because it was a last resort but if it’s a last resort, you try,” Hailey told STV News.

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“It’s definitely exceeded 100 times what I thought would happen. Just before this time last year I was bed-ridden downstairs because I couldn’t get myself upstairs. It was more that I was existing, rather than living.

“I think those two weeks, even before the (drug) was licensed were vital, absolutely vital, just from when I was told to make end-of-life plans…honestly I don’t know if I would be here without that two weeks.

“I mean that first tablet that I took, there were changes with my breathing within four hours. By day four, day five, I didn’t have any oxygen and life was just different, totally different.”

Kaftrio is a “triple combination therapy” and contains three drugs – ivacaftor, tezacaftor and elexacaftor – which improve lung function and helps those with cystic fibrosis to breathe more easily.

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The heriditary condition is caused by a genetic mutation that disrupts the body’s ability to regulate salt and water transport in the body, causing damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs.

The medication, which is now available on the NHS, has improved Hailey’s lung function and helped her put on weight.

Before Kaftrio, she was preparing for end-of-life care. Hailey’s condition was so urgent that she was eventually granted the drug on compassionate grounds two weeks before it was officially approved.

When Hailey, from Westhill, Aberdeenshire, was too weak to fight her cause, her mother Alison was always in her corner.

She told STV News she is thrilled at her daughter’s progress.

“It’s a bit of a blur last year if I’m honest – this time last year. We had been given weeks for Hailey and we were told that that drug, as much as she might get it, might not work for her because she was so poorly,” she said.

“But we still had to fight for it and thank god we did.”

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And Hailey is not alone as experts say Kaftrio has exceded all expectations.

Dr Keith Brownlee, director of medical affairs at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said: “Truly and utterly remarkable to tell you the truth.

“I worked as a paediatrician for around 30 years caring for families and children with CF and throughout those 30 years we were dealing with the consequences of CF, but these drugs begin to treat the fundamental cause of CF, so they are truly revolutionary.”

Now with her whole life ahead of her, Hailey is looking forward to the little things which mean so much.

She said: “I want to see my little sister growing up, learning new things and doing new things, climb up the stairs and go down the slide with her – just things I never thought I would be able to do again is amazing, and she loves it too.”

Starmer: Future of Scotland is question for Scottish people

The Labour leader said the priority should be on recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

STV News
Sir Keir Starmer spoke to STV News during his visit to Scotland.

By Lewis McKenzie & Bernard Ponsonby

The future of Scotland is a question for the Scottish people, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said.

However, he insisted that for the lifetime of the current Scottish Parliament, the focus should be on recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

Sir Keir also dismissed suggestions that a UK Government could take the Scottish Government to court in order to strike down Holyrood legislation brought forward to hold an independence referendum.

“The priority has to be the recovery, that is uppermost in people’s minds.”

Sir Keir Starmer, Labour leader
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Speaking to STV News on the second day of his visit to Scotland, Sir Keir was asked whether he accepts that people in Scotland should not need Westminster’s permission to choose the government they want.

“It is a question for the people of Scotland. That isn’t a principle that any of us quarrel with,” he said.

“It has to be a matter for the people of Scotland, I don’t quarrel with that principle.

“What I am saying is that the priorities at the moment are the recovery from the pandemic.”

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Sir Keir continued: “The priority has to be the recovery, that is uppermost in people’s minds.

“And it was only a few weeks ago that every party going into that election said it should be the priority.”

Asked whether the UK Parliament should have the right to veto a second referendum, he said: “Well, that’s the current arrangement in Westminster.”

He added: “Stepping back from that, the question about the future of Scotland, it’s obviously a question for the Scottish people.”

The Labour leader said that the constitutional question had diverted focus from the concerns facing people in their everyday lives.

Pressed on when an appropriate time would be for a referendum to be held, he responded: “When we have come through the recovery and started to grapple with some of the issues in relation to climate change.”

He continued: “For the lifetime of this Parliament, we should be concentrating on the recovery.

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“But I am frustrated that there is a burning issue, which is what is the future of those communities and those jobs in the north east of Scotland and nobody is addressing that.

“The SNP promised thousands of jobs in the wind sector, they’ve delivered about one in 20.

“And the constitutional issue is a way of diverting focus from some of the very real concerns that we have here in Scotland that affect people in their everyday lives and affect probably the next generation of jobs in places like the north east of Scotland.”

The Labour leader insisted that politics should be kept out of the courts when asked about a potential for a legal challenge to any future referendum legislation.

“I have never thought that politics should involve going to court,” he said.

“I think politics should be kept out of the courts, and I say that as a former lawyer.

“Politics should be fought in the political arena and I’m sure that’s where in the end it will be fought.”


No quarantine for double vaccinated arrivals from France

India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE removed from travel red list but travellers from Mexico now have to hotel quarantine.

Hollie Adams / Stringer via Getty Images
Travellers returning from France no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated.

India and three Middle Eastern countries have been removed from Scotland’s coronavirus travel red list – and arrivals from France will no longer need to self-isolate if fully vaccinated, the Scottish Government has said.

But travellers from Mexico and Georgia will now have to quarantine in a hotel.

It comes as part of a host of changes to the traffic light system for international travel.

The Scottish Government said the new lists will come into force at 4am on Sunday.

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Travellers from Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will join those from India in not having to isolate in a hotel on entry to the country.

Mexico, Georgia and the French overseas departments of La Reunion and Mayotte will be put in the red tier.

Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway are among seven countries being added to the quarantine-free green list.

Arrivals from France will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated.

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It will be aligned with all other amber nations, from which arrivals only need to quarantine at home if they are not fully vaccinated.

While Spain remains on the amber list, travellers are advised to be cautious due to a new variant originating in South America.

The Scottish Government said passengers should get a PCR test prior to departure from Spain rather than other available tests such as lateral flow.

Quarantine hotel costs will also change “in light of a decision taken by the UK Government, which manages contractual arrangements on behalf of the four nations”, the Scottish Government said.

The price of a stay in managed isolation is to increase from £1750 to £2285.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson said: “These latest changes make it clear that international travel remains challenging.

“Recent relaxations to travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people were due to the huge success of the Scottish Government’s vaccination programme.

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“It is vitally important we protect that progress through continued vigilance on importation, and we continue to urge caution given the risks caused by variants of concern.”

Teens accused of ‘leaving unconscious boy on live railway track’

It is claimed the boy was struck on the head with a piece of concrete as well as being repeatedly punched and kicked

© Google Maps 2020
Court: Five teenagers are to stand trial.

Five teenagers are to stand trial accused of trying to kill a boy and leaving him unconscious on a railway track.

Jordan Duncan, 18, Stephen Fairservice, 18, Adam Tennant, 18, Josh Todd, 18, and a 17-year-old boy – who cannot be named for legal reasons – faced the allegation at the High Court in Glasgow on Thursday.

The indictment lists two locations for the May 4, 2018 incident including Lanark train station in South Lanarkshire.

It is claimed the boy was struck on the head with a piece of concrete as well as being repeatedly punched and kicked.

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He is said to have ended up on the ground unconscious.

Prosecutors claim the boy was then dragged onto a “live railway line”.

The attempted murder charge states this was to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life.

Lawyers for the five pled not guilty on their behalf at the hearing.

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A trial was fixed for March next year.


Yellow weather warnings as thunderstorms set to strike

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings for thunderstorms and rain.

SVphotography via IStock

Thunderstorms are expected to strike across Scotland on Friday and Saturday.

The Met Office has issued yellow weather alerts, with Scots urged to prepare for travel disruption and flooding.

Heavy rain is expected to drench the north-east between 12am and 2pm on Thursday.

The likes of Montrose, Stonehaven, Aberdeen, Inverurie and Keith are likely to see most of the downpour.

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Thunderstorms are expected to start at around 4am on Thursday and will last through the day. The warning stretches from the Scottish Borders right up to the Highlands.

On Saturday, the whole country has been put on high alert for the thundery showers. The yellow warning starts at 4am and ends at midnight.

Experts have warned of potential damage to buildings as a result of floodwater, lightning strikes, hail and strong winds.

Spray and sudden flooding could also lead to difficult driving conditions and road closures.

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The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has also issued 12 flood alerts.

Friday weather alerts

Met Office via Website
Friday: Weather warnings for thunderstorms and rain.
  • Rain warning: 12am to 2pm
  • Thunderstorm warning: 4am to 11.59pm

Saturday weather alert

Met Office via Website
Saturday: Weather warning for thunderstorms.
  • Thunderstorm warning: 4am to 11.59pm.

STV Weather presenter Philip Petrie said: “So far this week things have stayed fairly settled, with even some dry and bright conditions on offer. Even today started relatively dry with sunny spells in the east through the morning.

“Unfortunately, things are turning more unsettled from the west today as we have low pressure taking control of the weather.

“This low pressure is not going anywhere fast and will gradually move eastwards over the weekend giving us cloud, heavy rain, scattered showers – thundery at times, and windier conditions.

“This is why the Met Office has issued a series of yellow weather warnings for certain parts of the country over the next couple of days.

“Tomorrow looks set to be wet and miserable for much of the country – lots of rain which will be slow moving but turning showery through the afternoon.

“Some of those showers will be heavy and possibly thundery so we have the thunderstorm warning covering parts of Angus, Fife, Falkirk, Perth and Kinross, Stirling, Aberdeenshire and the Highlands.

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“The showers could also band together to create longer spells of rain, particularly around the north east, so we have a rain weather warning in force through tomorrow morning and into the early afternoon covering Angus, Aberdeen and Moray – here we could see between 40-60mm on higher ground.”


Coronavirus: 11 deaths and 1381 new cases recorded

A total of 381 people were in hospital on Wednesday with recently confirmed Covid-19.

Peter-gamal via Pixabay
Covid-19: The fight to stem the spread of the deadly virus goes on.

A further 11 deaths and 1381 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Scotland overnight, according to official figures.

The daily test positivity rate is 4.9%, up from the 4.7% reported on Wednesday.

Of the new cases reported on Thursday, 290 are in Lothian, 289 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 220 are in Lanarkshire, and 118 are in Grampian as well as Fife.

The rest of the cases are spread out across eight other health board areas.

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A total of 381 people were in hospital on Wednesday with recently confirmed Covid-19, two fewer than the day before. Out of those, 55 patients are in intensive care.

The lab-confirmed death toll of those who tested positive within the previous 28 days currently stands at 7976, however figures including suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is now at least 10,370.

It was also confirmed that 4,018,503 Scots have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, an increase of 2177 from the day before.

A total of 3,268,887 people have received their second dose, a rise of 19,265.


Hairdressers, hotels and retailers ‘broke minimum wage laws’

Companies have been 'named and shamed' by the UK Government for underpaying workers.

RUBEN RAMOS via IStock
List: Scots businesses 'named and shamed' for breaking minimum wage laws.

Hairdressers, hotels, retailers and an amusement park are among the Scottish businesses “named and shamed” by the UK Government for breaking the minimum wage law.

The breaches by the 22 companies took place between 2013 and 2018.

A total of £31,000 was found to be owed to 209 workers after investigations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

The businesses have been made to pay back what they owe, and were fined an additional £46,000.

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Among the companies named are J Ren Ltd, trading as Mooboo, a bubble tea shop in Glasgow’s St Enoch Shopping Centre.

It owed £3114 to 24 workers between 2014 and 2017.

John Codona’s Pleasure Fairs Limited, which runs Codona’s Amusement Park in Aberdeen, owed more than £1318 to 90 workers between March and November 2017.

Ian Littlewood, a member of the management team at the amusement park, said the company “do pay the minimum wage – 100%”.

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He added: “There was an error where we deducted the cost of a uniform from staff which was pointed out by HMRC and all monies were paid back for that but we have never not paid the full minimum wage.”

Harbour Havens Limited, which trades as Kildonan Hotel on the Isle of Arran, was named for racking up £2478 in arrears to four workers between 2014 and 2017.

Anne Acuna, one of the company directors, said they have always paid above minimum wage and said she was “disheartened” to be named on the Government’s list.

She said the issue stemmed from paying room and board for seasonal workers as the hotel is on an island.

“They have always been paid more than minimum wage but sometimes it looks like it’s under minimum wage when you take off room and board,” she said.

“They had contracts when they came in, they knew what the room and board was, they were happy with that.

“We’ve been doing that for years when all of a sudden this comes up and we immediately stopped paying them in that fashion.

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“We were caught in a situation that had no bad intention whatsoever.”

Also named were Rainbow Rooms International hairdressers in Glasgow, South Ayrshire and East Dunbartonshire, owned by Brittain & McMail Limited, Riccardo Corvi, Janine McMahon, and Fleeson & Robb Limited.

The Department for Business said minimum wage breaches can occur when workers being paid on or just above the minimum wage have deductions from their pay for uniform or accommodation.

Other breaches can involve paying the incorrect apprenticeship rate or failing to pay workers for all the time they had worked, such as overtime.

Business minister Paul Scully said: “Scottish employers can’t take their eye off the ball when it comes to upholding workers’ rights.

“There is never an excuse to short-change workers and paying the minimum wage isn’t optional.

“It’s up to all employers in Scotland, including those on this list, to check government guidance and pay workers properly.”

Chairman of the Low Pay Commission Bryan Sanderson said: “These are very difficult times for all workers, particularly those on low pay who are often undertaking critical tasks in a variety of key sectors including care.

“The minimum wage provides a crucial level of support and compliance is essential for the benefit of both the recipients and our society as a whole.”

Tributes paid to 11-year-old boy who drowned in river

Dean Irvine was pulled from the River Avon in South Lanarkshire after getting into difficulty on July 24.

PA via PA Media
Tributes: Dean Irvine died after getting into difficulty in the River Avon.

Tributes have been paid to an 11-year-old boy who died after getting into difficulty in water last month.

Emergency services were called to the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Park in Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire, on Saturday, July 24.

Dean Irvine was recovered from the Avon Water, also known as the River Avon, which runs through the park and was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Thursday, around 100 local residents, friends and family gathered to pay their respects in Fleming Way, near the 11-year-old’s family home in the Hillhouse area of Hamilton.

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Many wore green, including Celtic shirts, with flares of the same colour set off as the hearse moved off.

Relatives and friends had the word “Deano” printed on the back of their football tops along with the number 11.

The crowds applauded and set off fireworks as the hearse carrying the coffin left the area with a convoy of cars following towards Celtic Park.

Some cars in the convoy played the club anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone, with the words also on a card beside the coffin and flowers reading Deano, Son, Brother beside a bouquet made into a football.

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Club staff gathered at the stadium to applaud the cortege, which then continued to a funeral home in Hamilton.

The 11-year-old was one of seven people to die after getting into difficulty in Scotland’s waters in a single week.

Edina Olahova, 29, Rana Haris Ali, nine, and Muhammad Asim Riaz, 39, died after getting into difficulty in Loch Lomond, near Pulpit Rock, on Saturday, July 24.

A 13-year-old boy lost his life in water at Hazelbank in Lanark the same day, while a 16-year-old boy died at Balloch at the south end of Loch Lomond the previous day.


Puppy abandoned in park ‘dehydrated and in poor condition’

The Scottish SPCA is now appealing for information with concerns over the mother of this puppy and any others in the litter.

Scottish SPCA via PA Media
Staffordshire bull terrier: Found in Victoria Park on Monday.

A puppy has been found abandoned, “dehydrated and in poor condition” in a park in Aberdeen.

The tiny dog was spotted by a member of the public in Victoria Park at around 5.50pm on Monday.

Scottish SPCA officers were alerted and recovered the female Staffordshire bull terrier, which is thought to be between six and eight-weeks-old.

The animal welfare charity is now appealing for information amid concerns for the mother of the puppy and any others in the litter.

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Inspector Fiona Mckenzie said: “The dog is a tan, female Staffordshire bull terrier puppy. She is between six and eight-weeks-old.

“She is very lucky she was found by the member of the public as she was dehydrated and in poor condition – unfortunately she is not microchipped.

“We are now extremely concerned for the welfare of the mother of this puppy and any other puppies in the litter.

“We appreciate that the person who left her may have intended for her to be found but this is not the correct procedure to follow if you can no longer care for an animal.

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“The puppy is now at one of our animal rescue and rehoming centres, where she is receiving the veterinary care she needs.

“If anyone recognises this puppy we would ask that they contact our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.”


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