Coronavirus Public Health

Public Health Minister Welcomes New Figures That Show A Rise In Breastfeeding Rate

Commenting on the Infant Feeding statistics, Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick MSP said:

“I am delighted that breastfeeding rates across Scotland continue to rise with more than half of the babies born in 2019/20 being breastfed at their first health visitor visit.

“These statistics also show that 44% of babies born in 2019/20 were being breastfed at their 6-8 week review.

“We are continuing to support women to breastfeed as the normal nutrition for babies and have provided additional funding of more than £5 million over the past three years for breastfeeding support.

“This extra funding is enabling NHS Boards and third sector partners to improve the breastfeeding experiences, particularly for younger mothers and those from more deprived areas and work is underway to meet our target of reducing the drop off in breastfeeding rates at the 6-8 week point by 10% by 2025.”


Additional data released during the COVID-19 pandemic on the  Public Health Scotland Wider Impacts dashboard shows that there was also a notable increase in the proportion of mothers breastfeeding (both exclusively and overall) during the months Scotland was in lockdown between March and May. We continue to monitor data relating to this and other child health indicators during the pandemic on a regular basis. This data will be included in the annual report published in October 2021.

Infant Feeding Statistics 

Coronavirus Public Health

Scotland’s Strategic Framework (Covid-19 Response)

Five level plan to vary rules for rapid but proportionate response to COVID-19.

A five-level framework which will allow for a refreshed strategic approach to suppressing Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks across Scotland was published on Friday, October 23rd.

The framework indicates different levels of protection that might be needed based on different levels of transmission for the virus. It will allow for rapid but proportionate responses on both a local and national basis using a transparent range of measures and options.

The framework will comprise five protection levels. ‘Level 0’ is effectively the same level of protection as the Route Map Phase 3 measures Scotland reached in August and will act as a baseline, with four levels above that designed to apply increasing protection from the virus in areas according to prevalence, the risk to communities and the need to protect the NHS.

Levels 1, 2 and 3 will be broadly equivalent to the UK Government levels to offer some uniformity with measures south of the border. Levels will be reviewed on a regular basis.

Ongoing financial support is set out in the framework and will be available to businesses which are required to close or which can remain open but will be directly affected by restrictions. The Scottish Government will work with local authorities to ensure grants are made available quickly and efficiently.

In the coming days the Scottish Government will engage with local government, stakeholders, economic groups and other partners, prior to a final version of the strategic framework being debated in parliament on Tuesday, October 27th.

Further details on which local authority areas of Scotland will fall under which levels will be announced following discussions with directors of public health and local authorities, taking on board recommendations from the national incident management team, before coming into force on 2 November

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“It has become increasingly clear that we need to update our approach to tackling Coronavirus to adapt to this latest phase of the pandemic. The draft strategic framework we are publishing sets out how we intend to do that.

“It tries to balance different types of harms. But it is worth stressing that if we allow the virus to run out of control then that will exacerbate every other harm.

“In the coming days, we will listen to views from stakeholders on any suggested changes they might have, or how they would like to see it implemented. Although the framework we have published is new, the principles behind it will be familiar.

“I know that when people hear the daily figures it’s easy to feel as though the hard sacrifices we are all living with are not making a difference. But by taking these difficult steps we will help suppress the virus, and that is why I am asking everyone to stick with it.”


Read Scotland’s Strategic Framework.

Coronavirus Public Health

NHS Dental Services Remobilisation

The Public Health Minister has today confirmed to Parliament that NHS dental services will remobilise, from Sunday 1 November, and be able to provide a full range of treatments to NHS patients within dental practices.

This follows restrictions placed on services NHS dentists could provide in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:

“This pandemic has been an extremely challenging time for dentistry and I extend my sincerest thanks to the sector for their patience and resilience throughout the period.

“The government is committed to ensuring that the needs of patients to be seen for NHS dental treatment can be met, in a way that supports efforts in practice to maintain the high standards of health and safety needed to minimise the threat from COVID-19.

“Work has been carried out at pace to improve our understanding and risk management of COVID-19 transmission in dental settings, allowing for further progress with the NHS dental remobilisation and I am pleased practitioners, from 1 November, will be able to provide a full range of treatments to all NHS patients within dental practices.

“However, it is clear that this is not a return to business as usual and a return to pre-COVID levels of patient volume will not be achievable but by making available a full range of treatments for NHS patients, dentists and dental teams will be able to provide a wider range of NHS care, prioritised by clinical judgement and in line with wider public health protection measures. We stand ready to continue working constructively with the sector to help facilitate this remobilisation.

“I would like to thank the sector for their efforts in providing safe care to patients and I am sure they stand ready to continue to provide the best of care as we navigate the coming months together.”

Coronavirus Public Health Social Security

New grant for those self-isolating

People on low incomes will be eligible to receive a new £500 grant if asked to self-isolate.

The new Self-Isolation Support Grant will help those who would lose income if they needed to self-isolate, such as those unable to carry out their work from home.

This grant is for those who will face financial hardship due to being asked to self-isolate and will be targeted at people who are in receipt of Universal Credit or legacy benefits, with some discretion to make awards to others in financial hardship.

Applications are due to open from 12 October and will be delivered through the existing Scottish Welfare Fund, which is administered by local authorities.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“Self-isolation can be tough, but it is essential to protect people and reduce the spread of coronavirus. To ensure people do not experience financial hardship as a result of doing the right thing, we are introducing this new £500 grant for people on low incomes who have been told to self-isolate.

“We want to do everything we can to support people throughout this challenging time and these payments will help ensure people do not have to make a choice between self-isolating and supporting themselves financially.

“While we continue to press the UK Government for clarity around consequential funding for the support scheme they recently announced, it is essential that we act swiftly so that people who need support are able to access it. I am glad that the scheme has the support of local authorities and that we have a means of delivering it from next month.”

COSLA Community Wellbeing Spokesperson Councillor Kelly Parry said:

“COSLA, on behalf of Scottish local government, welcomes this scheme. It will help ensure those who are affected and qualify are looked after and won’t need to go to work, which will help reduce the community spread of the virus.

“Councils have vast experience of providing local support of this type to communities and are the best placed to deliver this measure. We are keen to agree the details with the Scottish Government as soon as possible and look forward to getting much needed support to the people who need it.”


Further information on Test and Protect  

The Scottish Welfare Fund was established in April 2013, to provide Crisis Grants to people facing an emergency or disaster and Community Care Grants to help people establish or maintain a home in the community.

Coronavirus Public Health

Protect Scotland app launches

Additional protection against coronavirus.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged smartphone users across Scotland to download NHS Scotland’s new contact tracing app to help suppress the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Protect Scotland app is now available to download for free via Apple and Google stores.

Supported by a dedicated Protect Scotland website, the app is an extra tool complementing existing person-to-person contact tracing which remains the main component of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system.

Individuals privacy will be protected as the app uses Bluetooth technology to anonymously alert users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and advises them to self-isolate. Users of the app who test positive will still get a call from a contact tracer to confirm their details and who they have been in close contact with.

The app does not store details on an individual or their location but uses encrypted, anonymised codes exchanged between smartphones to determine all close contacts. Close contacts are defined as people who have been within two metres of someone who has tested positive for 15 minutes.

Designed by software developers NearForm for NHS Scotland, the app uses the same technology as the Republic of Ireland and Northern Irish proximity tracing apps.

Sign up is entirely voluntary but strongly recommended for those with compatible smartphones.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“The launch of the app is a welcome development which will offer an additional level of protection – supporting NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system as it works to drive down the spread of COVID-19 across the country.

“I would encourage everyone to download the free app if they have a compatible smartphone, and help slow the spread of COVID-19. This will support the work of NHS Scotland and has the potential to help avoid local lockdowns.

“The more people who download and use the app, the more effective it can be in helping to make connections that may otherwise have been missed. This will allow people to self-isolate quickly if they are exposed to the virus, reducing the risk of them infecting others.

“We all have a part to play in suppressing the virus, and downloading the app – alongside other vital measures such as following hygiene and physical distancing guidance – will help protect you, your family and your community.

“We also know that not everyone uses a smartphone or will be able to or want to access the app, which is why this software is very much there to complement existing contact tracing methods.”

Cian Ó Maidín, CEO, NearForm said:

“We’re delighted to partner with NHS Scotland on the Protect Scotland app which puts power in citizens’ pockets to join the fight against COVID-19.

“This open source technology was built with privacy and data protection at its core and, through anonymous keys, allows Scottish citizens to engage, protect each other and break transmission chains.

“The Scottish Government has taken a great approach, using open source software, that has been peer reviewed and rolled out successfully in Ireland and Northern Ireland.”


For more information on the Protect Scotland app visit

The app focuses solely on proximity tracing. If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, they will be sent a unique code to their mobile. If they give permission, the data will then be sent to a server so close contacts also using the app can be notified by text and advised to self-isolate. It will not include additional functionality such as QR code software to allow for venue check in/outs. It also will not include symptom checking as this is available via the NHS 24 COVID-19 app.

The app signposts to existing guidance on NHS Inform, Ready Scotland and the Scottish Government website, including on what to do if you receive an alert and are advised to self-isolate.

The Protect Scotland app is compatible with iPhones 6S and above and Android 6.0 and above.

Detailed information about the features, functionality, security and data privacy elements of the base technology is available online.

The Scottish Government remains in discussion with the UK Government regarding their planned contact tracing app.

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

People with any of the following symptoms should book a test at 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

The UK Government has confirmed that individuals who are be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will receive it if they are isolating. Statutory Sick Pay will not be given to members of the individual’s household who have not had contact but who may have to isolate. Those members will need to access the benefits system for financial support if they are unable to work and would lose income as a result.

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.”


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.