Categories
Coronavirus Health

Increasing capacity and accessibility of testing

First of 11 planned walk-through sites set up.

People who suspect they may have coronavirus (COVID-19) will be able to receive a test at a walk-through testing centre.

The clinically-approved and risk-assessed model means people can access testing in semi-permanent centres, both indoor and outdoor, just days after a site has been agreed.

Work has begun to set up the first of eleven sites planned to be up and running before winter.

Appointments will be available through NHS Inform to students and the wider community for the first of these, to be housed in the Victory Memorial Hall in St Andrews. Testing is expected to commence at this site in the coming days.

Consideration of location of the further 10 sites which will be easily accessible by bike, wheel or foot is underway including in the Highlands, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“Containing and suppressing this virus relies on testing being accessible to everyone. These walk through testing centres will further increase Scotland’s testing capacity ahead of potential spikes as we move into winter.

“They can be operational in a matter of days, and we are working at pace with NHS National Services Scotland and local authorities to roll out more across the country so that more people have access to local testing.

“We will continue to adapt our testing strategy in line with the different stages of the pandemic. However, testing is only one effective intervention that we are using to manage the virus and it remains vital that people continue to follow physical distancing advice and practise good hand and cough hygiene not just for their own safety but in order to protect others.”

NHS Fife Deputy Director of Public Health Dr Esther Curnock said:

“The new walk-in testing site in St Andrews is an important resource for the local population and will play a vital role in helping to limit the spread of the virus in north-east Fife.

“With the prevalence of COVID-19 now much lower than it was at its peak, it is easy to think that the virus in no longer a risk to our health, however, that is far from the case.

“It is crucial, therefore, that people arrange to be tested as soon as any symptoms develop, such as a new continuous cough, a fever, or a loss or change in the sense smell or taste, and isolate immediately rather than waiting on the result of their test.”

Background

Scotland’s COVID-19  Testing Strategy.

Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal of the University of St Andrews, said:

“We’ve been in discussions for some time with the Scottish Government and NHS Fife about local testing facilities, and this is a positive and prudent development.

“The new testing centre will support the many steps the University is taking to keep our staff, students and local community safe, including our own Covid Rapid Response Service which will support quarantining and contact tracing, and monitor adherence to public health guidelines.”

Co-Leader of Fife Council Cllr David Alexander said:

“We are delighted to have been involved in getting one of Scotland’s first walk-in test centres up and running in St Andrews. With a high student population, a huge turnover of tourists and a centre of hospitality, St Andrews seemed to be an obvious choice for a test centre like this.”

Co-Leader of Fife Council Cllr. David Ross added: “These facilities are accessible for everyone in the area and will provide an invaluable resource in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 in our communities.”

Categories
Health Public Health

Continued fall in teenage pregnancy rate

Lowest rates of teenage pregnancy since reporting began.

Teenage pregnancies in Scotland are at the lowest level since 1994, according to the latest statistics.

In 2018, there were 29.6 teenage pregnancies per 1,000 women, down from 30.2 in 2017 and 54.7 in 1994.

The gap in teenage pregnancy rates between the most and least deprived areas has also reduced, with the rate for those living in the most deprived areas decreasing from 87.4 per 1,000 women in 2009 to 56.8 in 2018 and the rate for those in the least deprived areas dropping from 21.9 to 12.2 respectively.

Commenting on the statistics, Public Health Minister and local MSP for Dundee City West constituency Joe FitzPatrick said:

“It’s encouraging to see a fall in the rates of teenage pregnancy for the eleventh successive year, with rates at their lowest level since reporting began in 1994. This reflects the dedicated work of education, health and community services in giving young people more choice, support and advice.

“I’m particularly pleased that the gap in teenage pregnancy rates between the most and least deprived areas is narrowing too.

“We are continuing work to implement our ‘Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People Strategy’, focusing on supporting young people who are vulnerable to pregnancy in key areas including education and attainment, training and employment and emphasising the importance of positive relationships to help them to achieve their potential as young people and as parents. We have also continued to roll out the Family Nurse Partnership programme since 2010, to offer direct support to young, first time mothers and their families from pregnancy until their child reaches two.”

Background

A reduction in the teenage pregnancy rate has been observed since the most recent peak in 2007.

The latest National Progress Report outlines how the Scottish Government is working to support young people around pregnancy and parenthood, through the implementation of the Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People Strategy as well as wider work across Government.

More information can be found in the Teenage Pregnancy 2018 statistics.

One of the outcomes of the Family Nurse Partnership programme is to increase the time between subsequent births, thereby contributing towards the downward trend of rapid subsequent pregnancies in this age group. Those from most deprived areas have almost 15 times the rate of delivery compared to least deprived.

On 20 August Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell announced an additional £2.35 million for the Parental Employability Support Fund to support disabled and young parents and to maximise the impact of expanded Early Learning and Childcare entitlements. This will help families to move towards and into employment and provide wrap-around support and advice on issues such as housing and childcare.

Categories
Coronavirus Health

Scotland’s COVID-19 Testing Strategy

Testing approach adapts as prevalence changes.

The Scottish Government has published its updated Testing Strategy setting out the role testing continues to play in tackling coronavirus (COVID-19).

The strategy focuses on a number of key areas of testing:

  • Whole population testing of anyone with symptoms (Test & Protect)
  • Proactive case finding by testing contacts and testing in outbreaks
  • Protecting the vulnerable and preventing outbreaks in high risk settings by routine testing
  • Testing for direct patient care, to diagnose and to treat, and to support safe patient care as NHS services restart
  • Surveillance to understand the disease, track prevalence, understand transmission and monitor key sectors

A key development to strengthen surveillance work and help prevent the spread of the virus will be for all contacts of COVID-19 index cases to be offered testing regardless of whether they have symptoms. At present, recent close contacts of those people with a positive test result, are asked to isolate for 14 days. While they will still have to do this, they will now also be advised to get a test, allowing for further contacts to be identified and potential, wider outbreaks contained.

In addition, from September, Scotland will participate in the ONS Covid-19 Infection Survey which is currently operating in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This represents the single biggest expansion to date of asymptomatic testing for surveillance purposes in the pandemic. The survey will eventually see approximately 15,000 individuals in Scotland tested during every two-week rolling period. This equates to approximately 9,000 households.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“The publication of our Testing Strategy clearly sets out the role of testing in our response to COVID-19, which will continue to evolve as the scientific and clinical understanding of the virus develops.

“We know that meeting this challenge requires a comprehensive set of public health measures to drive the number of cases down – intelligence, anticipation, prevention, mitigation and response and clearly testing has a crucial role – it allows us to get ahead of the curve and track down and contain the virus as far as possible.

“We will continue to adapt our testing strategy in line with the different stages of the pandemic. However, testing is only one effective intervention that we are using to manage the virus and it remains vital that people continue to follow physical distancing advice and practise good hand and cough hygiene not just for their own safety but in order to protect others.”

BACKGROUND

Scotland’s Testing Strategy

Test and Protect was rolled out across Scotland on 28 May 2020.

People with any of the following symptoms should self-isolate and book a test at nhsinform.scot/test-and-protect or call 0800 028 2816 if they are unable to access the online service:

  • a High Temperature or Fever
  • a new continuous Cough
  • a loss of, or change in sense of Smell or Taste
Categories
Drugs Health

Drug Deaths Taskforce marks first year

Funding announced for research projects across Scotland.

Almost £4 million has been allocated by the Drug Deaths Taskforce to projects to support its work reducing harm and deaths.

The taskforce has announced the Scottish Government funding for research and front-line services to help tackle the drug deaths public health emergency over the next year:

£1 million for 10 research projects examining different approaches to tackling the public health emergency

£3 million for Scotland’s Alcohol and Drug Partnerships to deliver on the six evidence-based strategies set out by the Taskforce to reduce drug deaths and drug harms

The taskforce, which has now been operating for a year, also launched a new website to inform stakeholders, service providers, people who use drugs and their families on their work.

In addition, a new strategy to tackle stigma will encourage a more informed and compassionate approach towards people who use drugs and their families. Over its first year it has gathered evidence which shows stigma is one of the main factors preventing people from seeking treatment.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:

“I want to thank Professor Catriona Matheson and all the members of Scotland’s Drug Deaths Taskforce for their hard work in its first year.

“This is not a problem with a quick solution and I know they have spent many hours gathering evidence about the true extent of this emergency and developing and implementing strategies to tackle it. This funding will enable it to act using what it has learned from individuals’ lived experiences.

“I’ve travelled all over the country meeting as many people who use drugs and service providers as possible and I have been told repeatedly that stigma is a real barrier to people accessing treatment.

“Stigma can come from many sources, but most damaging is self-stigma where people believe they are not worthy of support. It is costing lives every day in Scotland and I believe this new strategy will help us tackle what is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges we face.”

Professor Catriona Matheson, Chair of the Drug Deaths Taskforce, said:

“Since the taskforce first met in September 2019, we have been urgently reviewing evidence of what can best address Scotland’s unique challenge, and putting that evidence in action.

“The Annual Report details our progress in identifying critical lines of enquiry and actions to take us forward. The taskforce recognises that we all need to get away from a search for a mythical, single, magic bullet and towards a programme of implemented strategies that not only works but engenders a new level of trust, sharing and collaboration in Scotland’s key agencies. We believe in positive, sustainable change.”

Background

The  full report and Stigma Strategy are available on the new  Drug Deaths Taskforce website.

Details of the 10 research projects sharing the £1 million funding can be found here.

Categories
Coronavirus Health

Further £50 million for social care sector

Funding to help meet COVID-19 related costs.

The social care sector will receive up to £50 million further additional funding to help meet additional costs related to coronavirus (COVID-19), Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has announced.

Following an agreement between the Scottish Government and COSLA, the funding will be allocated to Integration Joint Boards (IJB) across Scotland to ensure the sustainability of the social care sector throughout the ongoing pandemic.

The additional resource comes on top of the £50 million previously allocated to the social care sector in May for COVID-19 related costs.

Scotland’s 31 health and social care partnerships have all put in place mobilisation plans and any additional expenditure will be expected to align with these plans. The funding will support social care providers with COVID-19-related costs such as a reduction in occupancy due to the virus, additional staffing or sickness costs, infection prevention and control and PPE.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic the social care sector has played a crucial and critical role in Scotland’s response. I know that it has been hugely challenging for social care staff and providers to deal with what is an unprecedented situation and all social care and healthcare staff working on the frontline have my sincere thanks.

“This second tranche of funding will bring our total extra allocation to the social care sector since May to £100 million, a sign of our practical commitment to continuing to support the sustainability and resilience of the sector.

“I am very clear that we will meet any increasing need for social care as a result of the pandemic and we will continue to work closely with COSLA and NHS Boards to ensure they have the resources required.”

COSLA’s Health and Social Care spokesperson Councillor Stuart Currie said:

“COSLA welcomes the announcement from Scottish Government in relation to a further allocation of funding to enable Health and Social Care Partnerships to continue to support the social care sector in their pivotal role responding to COVID 19.

“COSLA will continue to work closely with Scottish Government to ensure that resources are released to enable Partnerships to meet all reasonable costs identified within Local Mobilisation Plans to address the challenges currently being faced by the sector.”

Background

This announcement will extend the principles for social care sustainability payments to social care providers until the end of September, and will continue to support local authorities, IJBs and social care providers with financial challenges relating to COVID-19.

The Social Care Staff Support Fund is a separate commitment. It continues to remain in place until the end of September to ensure social care workers do not suffer financial hardship if they are ill or self-isolating as a result of coronavirus. Employers should pay eligible staff their expected income and reclaim any additional costs from Integration or Local Authorities. Guidance on eligibility and administration is available on the Scottish Government website.

Categories
Coronavirus Health

Adapting NHS resources to respond to COVID-19

A successful pilot at the NHS Louisa Jordan has seen 315 patients receive orthopaedic and plastic surgery outpatient consultations since the start of July.

Built at the Scottish Events Campus (SEC) in Glasgow at the beginning of the outbreak, the hospital has not been required to treat coronavirus (COVID-19) patients due to continued suppression of the virus.

Following the successful three-week project by NHS Lanarkshire, plans are now in place to expand the services offered at the hospital and increase the number of patients it can receive daily from health boards across Scotland.

New services to be offered include key diagnostics such as X-rays, CT scanning and ultrasounds, as well as speciality dermatology appointments.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“We always hoped that the NHS Louisa Jordan would never be needed for the COVID response and thanks to the continued collective efforts of people across Scotland to suppress the virus, that has been the case.

“When it comes to tackling this virus, we have all had to be flexible and adapt to the ‘new normal’ and that includes our health service. Although the NHS Louisa Jordan has not been required to treat COVID-19 patients, it remains a vital asset in our phased approach to resuming NHS services safely where we can.

“It is providing capacity to reduce waiting lists and improve outcomes for patients across Scotland. I am pleased that while it stands ready to treat patients with the virus at just a few days’ notice, the NHS Louisa Jordan is making a valuable contribution to our health service now, even while the virus remains under control.”

Chief Executive of NHS Louisa Jordan Jill Young said:

“As a national resource for the NHS in Scotland, we are proud to be playing our part in ensuring that more patients are receiving the safe, effective and person-centred care, they need during the current situation.

“NHS Louisa Jordan was created through teamwork with a spirit of collaboration which has been shown across NHSScotland during these challenging times. We look forward to working with NHS Boards across Scotland to help deliver key outpatient and diagnostic services for patients.”

Background

Established to help ensure NHS Scotland had extra capacity to treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHS Louisa Jordan has stood ready to accept patients since 20 April 2020.

The hospital was named after Glasgow-born First World War nurse Sister Louisa Jordan who died on active service in Serbia in 1915 as part of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Services.

1036 bed bays were built at the hospital, with capacity to treat an initial 300 patients. The estimated set up costs for NHS Louisa Jordan is approximately £31 million, with operational and decommissioning costs yet to be determined.

More information on NHS Louisa Jordan is available online.

Categories
Coronavirus Health

COVID-19 testing for under-fives

Testing eligibility extended for young children.

Children under the age of five who are displaying potential coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms will be eligible for testing from today.

Currently, children under five who have potential COVID-19 symptoms are not routinely tested and a test is only carried out if there is a pressing clinical need to do so – for example a young child who needs to be admitted to hospital and whose condition may be due to COVID-19 or a young child who is in hospital for some reason whose condition unexpectedly deteriorates.

Now, with childcare settings reopening from 15 July, children aged under five who have COVID-19 symptoms will be eligible for routine testing through all routes including drive-in Regional Testing Centres, Mobile Testing Units and by ordering a home test kit.

COVID-19 Testing for all children under 11 years old should be completed by their parent or carer.

Interim Chief Medical Officer Gregor Smith said:

“In light of the continued change in lockdown restrictions and the resumption of early learning and childcare, we have reviewed our testing policy for children under five.

“We want to avoid households having to isolate unnecessarily if young children in their family are displaying coronavirus-like symptoms which can be common in this age group.

“I would encourage anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or whose child has symptoms, to get a test immediately to help us supress the spread of the virus.”

Background

Testing eligibility extended for young children.

Children under the age of five who are displaying potential coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms will be eligible for testing from Wednesday 22 July.

Currently, children under five who have potential COVID-19 symptoms are not routinely tested and a test is only carried out if there is a pressing clinical need to do so – for example a young child who needs to be admitted to hospital and whose condition may be due to COVID-19 or a young child who is in hospital for some reason whose condition unexpectedly deteriorates.

Now, with childcare settings reopening from 15 July, children aged under five who have COVID-19 symptoms will be eligible for routine testing through all routes including drive-in Regional Testing Centres, Mobile Testing Units and by ordering a home test kit.

COVID-19 Testing for all children under 11 years old should be completed by their parent or carer.

Interim Chief Medical Officer Gregor Smith said:

“In light of the continued change in lockdown restrictions and the resumption of early learning and childcare, we have reviewed our testing policy for children under five.

“We want to avoid households having to isolate unnecessarily if young children in their family are displaying coronavirus-like symptoms which can be common in this age group.

“I would encourage anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or whose child has symptoms, to get a test immediately to help us supress the spread of the virus.”

Background

Test and Protect was rolled out across Scotland on 28 May 2020.

People with any of the following symptoms should self isolate and book a test at nhsinform.scot/test-and-protect or call 0800 028 2816 if they are unable to access the online service:
• a high temperature or fever
• a new continuous cough
• a loss of, or change in sense of smell or taste

Testing eligibility extended for young children.

Children under the age of five who are displaying potential coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms will be eligible for testing from Wednesday 22 July.

Currently, children under five who have potential COVID-19 symptoms are not routinely tested and a test is only carried out if there is a pressing clinical need to do so – for example a young child who needs to be admitted to hospital and whose condition may be due to COVID-19 or a young child who is in hospital for some reason whose condition unexpectedly deteriorates.

Now, with childcare settings reopening from 15 July, children aged under five who have COVID-19 symptoms will be eligible for routine testing through all routes including drive-in Regional Testing Centres, Mobile Testing Units and by ordering a home test kit.

COVID-19 Testing for all children under 11 years old should be completed by their parent or carer.

Interim Chief Medical Officer Gregor Smith said:

“In light of the continued change in lockdown restrictions and the resumption of early learning and childcare, we have reviewed our testing policy for children under five.

“We want to avoid households having to isolate unnecessarily if young children in their family are displaying coronavirus-like symptoms which can be common in this age group.

“I would encourage anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or whose child has symptoms, to get a test immediately to help us supress the spread of the virus.”

Background

Test and Protect was rolled out across Scotland on 28 May 2020.

People with any of the following symptoms should self isolate and book a test at nhsinform.scot/test-and-protect or call 0800 028 2816 if they are unable to access the online service:
• a high temperature or fever
• a new continuous cough
• a loss of, or change in sense of smell or taste was rolled out across Scotland on 28 May 2020.

People with any of the following symptoms should self isolate and book a test at nhsinform.scot/test-and-protect or call 0800 028 2816 if they are unable to access the online service:
• a high temperature or fever
• a new continuous cough
• a loss of, or change in sense of smell or taste

Categories
Health

Encouraging Results from Minimum Pricing of Alcohol

Commenting on the Public Health Scotland report on off-trade alcohol sales in the year following the implementation of Minimum Unit Pricing, Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick MSP said:

“It’s now unarguable that the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) in Scotland has delivered a reduction in the sale of alcohol.

“Today’s report found that MUP was associated with a net reduction of between 4 and 5% in off-trade alcohol sales per adult in its first year.

“These are very encouraging results for the first full year of our world-leading MUP policy. 

“The study takes account of a comparison with England and Wales, where MUP was not in place, and also factors such as underlying trends and seasonality. 

“The results mean it is reasonable to conclude that MUP was responsible for these reductions.“