Eight-year-old girl gives Sturgeon day off in garden briefing

Little Isabella updated the Scottish people on the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic from her back garden.

Facebook / Mariann Hay

An eight-year-old girl decided to give the First Minister a day off and address the nation from her garden.

Little Isabella, dressed in a coordinated suit, hilariously speaks to the Scottish people to update them on the spread of the coronavirus in her very own daily briefing.

Isabella’s mum, Mariann Hay from Port Glasgow, said her daughter wanted to give Nicola Sturgeon a break and spoke to the nation on her behalf.

Scotland’s quarantine changes ‘are not a free-for-all’

Health secretary Humza Yousaf described the changes to travel rules as 'gradual'.

STV News / guvendemir via IStock
The changes to quarantine rules were announced on Wednesday.

Humza Yousaf has insisted changes made to quarantine rules for travellers to Scotland are “not a free-for-all”.

It comes after it was announced that fully vaccinated people from the US and the EU, with the exception of France, will not be required to quarantine after arriving in the country from Monday.

The Scottish health secretary, speaking at NHS Golden Jubilee in Clydebank, described the changes as “gradual” and in line with the Government’s approach towards lifting Covid-19 restrictions.

“There are safeguards around this, it’s not a free-for-all that anybody from any country can come here,” he said.

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“It’s very much focused on, of course, amber list countries, it’s focused on those that are double vaccinated.

“What we’re simply saying is that our condition before was that you had to be vaccinated through a UK vaccination process, but actually we recognise that the EU and the US have approved vaccinations that are trusted.

“And therefore, this is a gradual move to allow safer travel, but of course, what we would say to people is continue to be cautious, continue to think about if you need to travel.

“And at the moment of course, the advice remains that we should only really be engaging in necessary travel.”

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Next week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to announce whether Scotland will be able to move ahead in the route map for lifting restrictions.

A date of August 9 has been set for the removal of the main legal restrictions in Scotland.

“We’re moving into a direction where we want to get back to some sort of normality,” Yousaf added.

“All of us have lived under really difficult restrictions for the last 16 to 18 months. We want to move to a position of normality.

“But the Scottish Government’s approach has always been to do that in a very gradual manner, as opposed to just lifting all the restrictions at once, and this is a continuation of that gradual approach.”


Care home regulator didn’t probe thousands of complaints

Regulator decided not to investigate more than 2000 complaints about care homes for older people in Scotland.

John Gordon via E-mail
John Angus Gordon surrounded by his family at Home Farm care home.

Investigations by the regulator into complaints against care homes in Scotland were significantly reduced during the period when Covid-19 was taking a devastating toll on the sector.

Only one in 20, or 5%, of complaints made by relatives, carers and staff about the quality of care being received by older people in homes were fully investigated by the Care Inspectorate.

Of the 2316 complaints received by the regulator from relatives in the 2020/21 period, just 122 were the subject of a full investigation. This compares with more than 600 in previous years.

The Care Inspectorate said that it had “rapidly adapted” to the situation last year and had reduced the number of on-site inspections it carried out to avoid spreading the virus.

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The data has been revealed as part of a collaborative project by STV News, The Scotsman, The Herald, The Press and Journal and The Courier.

The Scottish Government has committed to a public inquiry into its handling of the pandemic but some relatives are now calling for the Care Inspectorate’s role in regulating the sector to be subject to similar scrutiny.

Highland councillor John Gordon lost his father, John Angus Gordon, to Covid while he was being cared for at Home Farm in Portree. He believes staff did their best but were part of a system “that failed them and failed us as families but most importantly failed the residents”.

Home Farm was operated by care provider HC-One before being taken over by NHS Highland. HC-One declined to comment on the complaints figures.

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John said: “Our elderly population deserve the best care possible and if there are complaints they should be addressed and dealt with in a timely and professional manner.

“I think that a lot of the problems that care homes are facing and what we have experienced during the pandemic in terms of some of the reports that have come out and the complaints that we’re now hearing about ultimately is at the door of the Care Inspectorate.”

More than 3300 people died of Covid-19 related causes in Scottish care homes.

The information about complaints emerged as part of an ongoing collaborative investigation by Scotland’s leading media companies, including STV News. Previous freedom of information requests resulted in the National Records of Scotland being ordered to release data on deaths in every care home in Scotland.

Now, the Care Inspectorate has responded to a FOI request by releasing data on the number of complaints lodged about individual care homes for older people.

The data reveals that three quarters of Scotland’s 806 care homes were complained about in 2020/21. The total number of complaints was 2316 – a slight reduction from the previous period, which is thought to be linked to fewer visits from relatives and carers.

It has also emerged that the regulator made a number of changes to how it dealt with complaints in a bid to reduce the level of visits to care homes during the pandemic.

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It adopted a system that relied on “more dialogue and mediation” at the earlier stages of complaints. Under this approach, the number of completed investigations fell from a monthly average of 52 in 2019/20 to just ten per month during the last financial year.

Rather than be subject to detailed investigations, half of all complaints were noted for “intelligence” and for possible future inspection work – a rate almost double that of the previous period.

Additionally, the number of cases dealt with by “direct service action” – where the regulator asks the care provider to engage directly with the complainer – increased from an average of 13 per month to 27.

A report from the Care Inspectorate board meeting in June notes that the regulator was “keen to learn the lessons from our work on complaints in the last year” and that an internal review has been commissioned.

The data released under FOI shows the regulator has dealt with 10,481 complaints about care homes for older people in the past five years.

At the height of the pandemic in April last year, 295 complaints were recorded.

Of the 20 facilities with the most complaints last year, 18 were privately run.

The Care Inspectorate received at least one complaint about 82% of private sector care homes for older people last financial year. It upheld the complaint in about one in eight cases.

Of the complaints made in 2020/21 about care homes for older people, 40% came from relatives and carers and more than 25% were lodged by staff at the homes.

The focus of the complaints were healthcare (38%), communication (17.8%) and wellbeing (8.3%).

A spokesperson for the Care Inspectorate said: “ In March 2020, in line with guidance from directors of public health and after consultation with the Scottish Government, we rapidly adapted the way we worked because it was critical to minimise the spread of the virus, to keep people safe.

“Part of this meant on-site complaint investigations had to be limited to those that were deemed essential following an enhanced risk assessment. At that time we also significantly increased our contact with services and made use of technology where appropriate.

“The pandemic caused changes to how services operated. Some closed and others restricted non-essential visitors.

“As a result, the trends and patterns in complaints noted in previous years were disrupted with falls in complaints received in the past year.

“Complaint investigation is one important part of our scrutiny work. Complaints inform our wider work, which includes intelligence gathering about care services and subsequently unannounced inspections of care services as required.

“Where we have serious concerns about a care service we do not hesitate to take action to keep people safe, and we lay a summary report of all our inspections every two weeks before the Scottish Parliament.”

Kevin Stewart, the Scottish Government minister for mental wellbeing and social care, said: “The safety, protection and wellbeing of residents and staff in care homes is a priority, and we have met regularly with the Care Inspectorate throughout the pandemic as they adapted to the challenges of inspecting and supporting care homes.

“Complaint investigations have continued throughout the pandemic as part of a multi-agency approach, which also involves Health and Social Care Partnerships and local public health teams.

“We mourn every death from Covid-19 and express our sympathy for all those who have lost loved ones.

“We have confirmed there will be a public inquiry into all aspects of the impact and handling of Covid-19, including care homes, and our immediate focus is on continuing to do everything necessary to save lives for the remainder of this pandemic.

“In addition, the First Minister announced an independent review into how adult social care can be most effectively reformed to deliver a national approach to care and support services.”

Karen Hedge, national director at Scottish Care, said: “The delivery of safe high quality care and support is our first priority.

“Whilst we understand the need to reduce footfall as a result of the pandemic, the sector is now in a safer position with the introduction of double vaccinations and other IPC (infection protection and control) measures.

“In situations where a local resolution cannot be found, we would welcome Care Inspectorate intervention as a way to investigate and respond to complaints.

“This is a necessary part of the improvement process offering assurance to those accessing care and support and their families as well as to care providers and staff.”

‘There still feels like there is no closure in this

John’s father was diagnosed with dementia in the final years of his life and lived close to his daughter, Mary MacCaskill, and his grandchildren.

“Getting dementia in the last six years of his life wasn’t easy. My mum cared for him, sadly two years into it she passed away with cancer,” John explained.

“He was settled in Home Farm by then and, yeah, I always say my dad loved reaching out his hand to give you a handshake, he would always shake your hand whenever he met you and even if you went to his house for a cup of tea, even if I went to his house for a cup of tea, you would always get a handshake as he greeted you at the door or even when you went into the sitting room.

“It was something he did, he just liked shaking hands. For us, it was very poignant the day he died and we said our goodbyes. I don’t know if he recognised our voices but certainly when my sister and I spoke he reached out his hand but it was the carer with her blue gloves on, for us it was very poignant because our dad always shook our hand and there he is coming to the end of his life and the hand that’s grabbing his hand is somebody that has to wear a blue glove because of the pandemic that we are in and that was our last time with our dad.

“It was obviously on FaceTime and it’s not been an easy year and as I said there still feels like there is no closure in this. It’s such a cliche but answers have to be given and these issues have to be addressed.”

Scotland records 1398 new Covid cases and 13 deaths

Just over four million people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

BlackJack3D via IStock
The official statistics were published on Thursday.

Scotland has recorded 1398 new cases of coronavirus and 13 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Official statistics published on Thursday also indicate that there were 490 people in hospital with the virus, with 60 people in intensive care.

Just over four million people have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, whilst around 3.1 million have had their second dose.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier this week that there are “grounds for optimism” that the country can continue to progress out of restrictions.

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The SNP leader will announce next week whether Scotland will be able to progress with the easing of lockdown measures, with a date of August 9 having been set for the lifting of most legal restrictions.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, she said: “What we’ll be doing between now and then is weighing up the different factors that will inform that decision.

“Several of these factors give us really strong grounds for hope and that is positive, although others remind us for the need of continued caution.

“There is no doubt we are in a much better place than we were last March, at the start of the pandemic, or at the beginning of this year, or even at the start of this month.

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“In short, we have seen some very positive developments recently, and that does give us grounds for optimism that we will be able to continue progress, out of restrictions.

“That said, we do still need to be cautious.”


Talks held over potential closure of five care homes

Edinburgh Integration Joint Board announced plans in June to shut five care homes in the capital.

LPETTET via Getty Images
Pressure group hosting talks about possible closure of care homes in Edinburgh.

Talks are to be held over plans to close several care homes in Edinburgh that would put 211 residential places at risk.

The Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (EIJB) announced plans in June to shut four care homes in the capital – namely Ford’s Road, Clovenstone, Jewel House and Ferrylee homes.

Plans to change a fifth home, Drumbrae, from a care home to a facility providing hospital-based complex clinical care were also revealed.

The plans have been met with opposition from unions and local pressure group AEIP, who are hosting a public meeting on Thursday to try and save the five council-run care homes from closure.

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The main concern of the groups is how the plans will impact Edinburgh’s ageing population. The manner in which the announcements were handled will also be raised.

Pete Cannell, a spokesperson for AEIP said: “The five homes slated for closure are quite simply the homes of the residents.

“Closure would mean a huge upheaval in their lives. And yet the proposals for closure were made public with no consultation with residents, their families, or the unions that represent the care workers.

“The first that anyone knew was when workers were summoned to meetings at short notice. This is no way to run a care service.”

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Unison previously launched an online petition against the care home closures, which has been signed by 2000 people.

Unison’s Edinburgh city branch secretary Tom Connolly said: “Closing four care homes and changing the role of another, without proper and meaningful consultation is wrong.

“It is devastating for the residents.

“It’s also insensitive to staff who have put the health and wellbeing of care residents before themselves and their families, throughout this pandemic.

“Caring for our vulnerable elderly is a vital job, care homes are essential and care staff deserve support from all of us.”

Edinburgh City Council has been contacted for comment.

More on:

Man posed as teen online before raping 14-year-old girl

Craig Dunsmore persuaded the teenager to travel to meet him in Edinburgh before carrying out the sex attack on her at his home.

STV News
Craig Dunsmore has been jailed for six years and three months.

A child sex offender who posed as a teenage boy on the internet before attacking and raping a 14-year-old girl has been jailed for six years and three months.

Craig Dunsmore, 27, persuaded the teenager to travel to meet him in Edinburgh before carrying out the sex attack on her at his home in the city’s Broomhouse area.

Dunsmore was later to have found indecent images of children on a phone and after obtaining other phones contacted a 13-year-old girl.

A judge told him at the High Court in Edinburgh: “It is a matter of concern that having been arrested twice you continued to pursue your sexual interest in children.

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“The court heard that he had met the rape victim through the internet and told her that he was aged 15 and got her to travel to Edinburgh from her home town.

“During the rape attack on January 19, 2019, he pushed her onto a bed and held her down.

Judge Alison Stirling told him: “She froze thinking she was going to be raped, which is what happened.”

Dunsmore had denied raping the girl during an earlier trial but was found guilty of the offence.

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He was also convicted of engaging in sexual activity with the underage girl, including requesting that she take naked photos of herself and send them to him.

He was also convicted of possessing and distributing indecent pictures of children and possessing extreme pornography of explicit and realistic images of rape and non-consensual sex between adults and bestiality.

The cleaner was further convicted of requesting that a 13-year-old girl send him indecent images during communications with her in September 2019, when he had been freed under two bail orders at Edinburgh Sheriff court.

The judge told him during a sentencing hearing that Dunsmore followed via a live link to prison: “Custody is the only appropriate disposal having regard to the serious nature of your offending.”

Defence solicitor advocate John Campbell said Dunsmore realised he would be jailed and had begun to recognise the harm he had caused. He said: “Clearly there is much work to do.” 

Mr Campbell said Dunsmore was a first offender who hoped to resume employment on his release from jail. He added: “There is clearly a work ethic there.”

Dunsmore was placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely.


Library book returned 50 years late with apology and £20

Staff at Paisley Central Library were stunned at the return on Mr's Balbir Singh's Indian Cookery book.

Renfrewshire Leisure via Paisley Central Library
Overdue: Book returned with £20 and apology.

A book borrowed from a library in Renfrewshire more than 50 years ago has finally been returned.

Staff at Paisley Central Library were stunned at the return on Mr’s Balbir Singh’s Indian Cookery book, which had been last loaned out in 1968.

The book, published by Mills and Boon in 1965, was delivered by post in a large white padded bag along with a £20 note and an anonymous letter apologising for the return being so long overdue.

The letter accompanying it said: “Please accept my apologies for the late return of this book.

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“Enclosed is a token payment in recognition of this oversight. Thank you.”

The £20 is now going to be donated to charity, as Renfrewshire Libraries is currently not charging a fine for the return of overdue books. 

Balbir Singh was born in the Punjab in 1912 and became an internationally renowned chef, cookery teacher and cookbook author. 

Her Mrs Balbir’s Singh’s Indian Cookery book was met with much acclaim when it was first published in London in 1961, and went on to inspire future generations of Indian chefs and home cooks. 

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The book sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide and several editions with revisions, and recipe additions were printed in the following years.

Mrs Balbir Singh died in 1994.

Linda Flynn, Paisley Central Library Team Supervisor said: “I was more than a little surprised when I opened the padded envelope and saw what was inside.

“It’s rare to have a book returned after being overdue for so many years. I suspect the book had been lying in a cupboard or a drawer for some time and was only recently discovered.

“It was a lovely gesture from whoever found the book to take the time to send it back with a £20 note as a token gesture for it being so long overdue. We’ll make sure the money goes to a good cause.”

Linda added: “You could see that the book had been well used and some of the marks on the pages suggested that someone had followed the recipes to make a good few dinners.

“Unfortunately, the book isn’t in a condition to put back on our shelves for people to borrow, but since it’s become a talking point among library staff, we’ll keep it in a safe place.”


Six Scottish airports closed over strike action

Thursday’s walkout 'marks an escalation in the industrial action' which has been going on since January.

PA Media via PA Ready
Airport: Six closed over strike action.

Six airports have been closed to all but emergency flights as air traffic controllers strike over plans to introduce remote airport control towers.

The Prospect union said Thursday’s walkout marks an escalation in the industrial action which has been going on since January.

Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) said that Benbecula, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Sumburgh airports would be closed to all but emergency flights from 12.01am on July 29 for 24 hours due to strike action.

HIAL is planning to centralise operations in Inverness and introduce remote integrated air traffic control services for five airports – Inverness, Dundee, Stornoway, Kirkwall and Sumburgh.

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Managing director Inglis Lyon said: “We apologise for the inconvenience this day of strike action will cause.

“The disruption will impact our passengers, airline partners and the communities we serve at a crucial time in the recovery from the effects of the Covid pandemic.

“It is extremely disappointing that strike action is going ahead despite months of work with Prospect to agree a number of policies to support our colleagues’ transition to our Air Traffic Management programme.

“We are still in talks with the union on a commuting policy and appeal to Prospect to conclude those discussions before considering any further escalation of industrial action.”

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The industrial action has so far included staff working to rosters, a ban on overtime, refusing shift extensions – except for search and rescue, emergency and medical flights – and refusing to train new controllers.

Prospect negotiator David Avery said: “Prospect members have been forced into strike action to protect jobs in the communities they serve.

“HIAL must halt its plan which will remove high-value, skilled jobs from economies that can ill-afford to lose them, having a substantial negative impact on those communities.

“Prospect members are not averse to change but it has to be done in a way that maintains jobs and skills in remote communities.”

The Scottish Government has said the option chosen by HIAL in 2018 will “improve resilience, safety and reliability of services”.

A spokesman said: “It remains the case that no alternative has been proposed that addresses the issues that the Air Traffic Management Strategy (ATMS) programme aims to resolve.

“HIAL continues to engage with its staff, unions, airline customers and other interested parties as the programme is implemented.”


Two women sexually assaulted by teenager on train

The women were travelling from Ayr to Glasgow when the attacks took place.

British Transport Police via BTP
Attacks: BTP is appealing for information.

Two women have been sexually assaulted by a teenager on board a train heading to Glasgow.

The women were on the the 7.45pm Ayr to Glasgow Central service on Saturday when they were approached by a young man who assaulted both of them at separate times during the journey.

The man, said to be around 17-years-old, also made lewd sexual remarks towards them.

Police are now appealing for witnesses in a bid to trace the person responsible for the attacks.

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He is described as having a tanned complexion and dark curly hair.

At the time of the assaults he was wearing a grey and brown Gucci t-shirt and black shorts.

Detectives from the British Transport Police say they are keen to speak to anyone who may have witnessed the incident or who can help their investigation in any way.

A spokesperson for BTP said: “Witnesses or anyone with information can contact BTP by texting 61016 or call 0800 40 50 40.”


Charles meets beach-cleaning group during Scots visit

The Prince of Wales was shown the work of the environmental group by locals Dorcas and Allan Sinclair.

Paul Campbell via PA Ready
Charles met with volunteers at Scrabster Beach in Caithness.

A kilted Prince of Wales met with volunteer beach cleaners as he began a visit to the north of Scotland.

Charles met with volunteers at Scrabster Beach in Caithness on the northern tip of the United Kingdom on Thursday.

He will take part in several engagements in the town of Thurso during his visit to Scotland, where he is known as the Duke of Rothesay.

Wearing a kilt in Rothesay tartan, Charles met with Dorcas and Allan Sinclair, founders of the Caithness Beach Clean Group.

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They showed the prince some of the objects they have collected from the more than 3,500 beach cleans carried out since the group was founded in 2019.

The objects included a coaxial cable which Ms Sinclair told the Prince they were holding on to in case they could find someone to use it.

Charles joked with the media covering the visit: “You don’t need any coaxial cables, do you?”

Speaking to the PA news agency ahead of the visit, Ms Sinclair, 64, said the group had picked up more than 31 tonnes of plastic since they started.

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“We find horrible things like syringes, needles and even a gas mask,” she said.

“Recently we found a giant buoy, one of the cleaners got a tiny leather child’s shoe that is absolutely ancient.

“There’s also lots of pants, would you believe? So many people find men’s pants – only men’s, never women’s – and we talk about having a ‘pantometer’ because there’s a running joke about who finds the most pants.”

Ms Sinclair and her husband, who live four miles outside Thurso, go to six to eight beaches on the north coast of Scotland a week.

She said: “The beaches here are now so good we’ve got to travel because there’s not as much to clean

“We’re also really trying to include children in the beach cleans because it’s their world.

“If a child goes out with their parents, I send them a certificate and a badge, we run competitions for them and we’ve got them designing things like dog poo posters.”

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On Charles’s visit, she said: “He’s such an environmentalist himself, we’re really, really pleased he’s recognising what we’re doing here.”

Asked what she would speak to the prince about, Ms Sinclair added: “I’d like to tackle him about fishing because 99% of what we pick up is fishing related – nets, reels et cetera – in case he can use his influence.”

Charles last travelled to Caithness in 2019 when he visited a wind farm and whisky distillery.


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