Yesterday in the Scottish Parliament the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeane Freeman, discussed the topic of relatives visiting their loved ones in care homes and how the Scottish Government are taking steps to make this more accessible. The response came as Ms Freeman was challenged on the topic of relatives having difficulty accessing their elderly relatives in care homes.
Ms Freeman highlighted that 40% of care homes in Scotland already meet the criteria for indoor visiting. To meet this criteria, the care home must be free of Covid-19 cases for 28 days, and the home must also take part in a staff testing programme.
She also highlighted that many care homes have stopped visiting in light of the recent Scottish Government guidelines on not meeting indoors, but it was emphasised that this should not be the case and that care home visits should continue. The Health Secretary noted that she would be contacting care homes to ensure they understood that where it has been deemed safe to have visits, then they should continue to have them at this time.
MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, commented:
“I know that many people in my constituency have struggled with restrictions which have meant that visits to loved ones in care homes have not been possible, so I am glad that the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport has directly addressed this topic in the Scottish Parliament Chamber.
“I am pleased that the Cabinet Secretary has made it clear that the new Scottish Government guidance does not mean that there will be a stop to care home visiting, and that those in care homes can continue to have visits from their loved ones.
“It is important that those who are in care homes do not feel like they are isolated from their families, and I hope that these discussions make it clear that the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring visits can continue where it is safe for these to occur. I am glad that the Health Secretary has also indicated that they are looking at how to increase the frequency and length of visits, and I welcome the discussions that are being had around this, as well as talks about allowing outdoor visits with those in homes.
“The recent guidance which has been announced by the Scottish Government will help us maintain freedoms such as visiting those in care homes. These restrictions are put in place to help lower the rates of cases, and to allow us to continue to have the ability to visit our care homes safely.
“We all need to accept our individual responsibility to keep others safe, by following guidance that means we should not be visiting other households at this time, and by continuing to wash our hands regularly, and social distance from others. We need to do all that we can to protect our loved ones.
“I do not underestimate the difficulties experienced by those in care homes and their relatives over the last few months, and I hope these discussions provide hope and comfort to them.”
Colin Beattie MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh has announced that he will hold his annual Christmas card competition for local schools. The competition will be open to all primary school children from the Midlothian North and Musselburgh constituency. Mr Beattie has written a letter inviting all eligible schools to take part.
Commenting, Colin Beattie MSP said:
‘The Christmas card competition is one of my highlights of the year, and this is the now the fourth year that I have ran the competition. I really enjoy having the opportunity to engage with the local schools and to provide the children in my constituency with a fun activity in the run up to Christmas season. The winning design becomes my official Christmas card, which I send to local organisations, businesses and politicians. I love seeing the variety of different designs and the creativity of our local young people.
‘All of the primary schools in the constituency have been sent an invitation to take part and this also outlines the deadlines and the prizes. I hope that we get just as many entries as we have had over previous years.’
Given that it has been a difficult year I wanted to make sure that local children had something exciting to look forward to, and so this year I have put more prizes on offer and have also made them bigger. This year, there is a prize for first, second and third place. There is also a first, second and third place prize on offer for the ‘best class’ category.’
‘Choosing the winner is always a challenge because we have such high quality entries, but getting to pick the unique design for my Christmas card, and meeting all the talented children who put their efforts into making them, is one of the best parts of the festive season for me. I can’t wait to see the work they put into this and hopefully if it is within Coronavirus restrictions then I will be able to visit the schools to thank them for their entries.’
Scotland’s approach to implementing the ‘test, trace, isolate, support’ strategy, Test and Protect, is now live across the country.
Test and Protect will help us gradually change the restrictions that help to suppress COVID-19 so society can adapt to a new normal.
If you experience any one of the symptoms - a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – you must immediately self-isolate.
As soon as you start showing symptoms you should go to www.nhsinform.scot or call 0800 028 2816 to arrange to get tested.
When contacting individuals who have tested positive, contact tracers will ask people to identify others who they’ve been in close contact with and places they’ve been 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms up until the time they’ve self-isolated. This information will then be inputted into contact tracing software and used to identify and contact those identified.
The positive individual will not be named by the contact tracer in line with patient confidentiality, unless they agree to have their details disclosed to help the contact tracing process.
Importantly, contact tracers will not ask anyone for information about bank accounts or medical records, and they will not try to sell you anything. The data gathered will be stored securely by NHS Scotland and safely destroyed as soon as possible after the pandemic concludes.
Commenting, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said:
“I understand that people may be worried about the risks of potential phone scams, but the NHS already has a number of protections in place to stop potential fraudsters and ensure all information is kept confidential.
“Contact tracers will introduce themselves, state the reason for their call, and will always identify who they are calling by name. They will not ask for information about bank accounts or medical records, and they will not try to sell you anything.
“The tracers are supported by software which builds on a tried and trusted platform, allowing teams to identify outbreaks and reduce transmission for high risk groups here in Midlothian North and Musselburgh.
“Trace and Protect is one way we will tackle this pandemic, but physical distancing and good hand hygiene continues to play a huge role as minimise the spread of infection.”
60.5% MORE HOUSEHOLDS IN EAST LOTHIAN AND 49.5% MORE HOUSEHOLDS IN MIDLOTHIAN CONNECTED TO SUPERFAST BROADBAND
SNP GOVERNMENT DELIVERING FOR SCOTLAND WHILE TORIES FAIL ON BROADBAND COMMITMENT
Local MSP Colin Beattie has welcomed new figures that show a huge boost to connectivity in Midlothian and East Lothian, thanks to significant investment from the SNP Government.
According to the latest coverage statistics from Thinkbroadband, 92.4% properties in East Lothian and 93.5% properties in Midlothian are now connected to superfast broadband – a 60.5% rise for East Lothian and a rise of 49.5% for Midlothian from 2014 when only 31.9% East Lothian households and 44% of Midlothian properties were connected to internet speeds of at least 30Mbps.
A report published this week from Ofcom also found that 172,889 properties across Scotland have been connected to superfast broadband in the last year alone.
Despite connectivity and broadband remaining reserved to Westminster, Scotland is the only part of the UK that has guaranteed 100% superfast broadband access.
While the SNP is investing £600 million in the R100 programme, the single biggest public sector investment in digital connectivity in the UK, Westminster has contributed less than £21 million to the project – just 3% of the total funding.
Welcoming the latest figures, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh Colin Beattie said:
“These latest figures are clear evidence that Midlothian and East Lothian has reaped the rewards of SNP broadband investment.
“Broadband is a reserved issue to Westminster, but successive UK governments have sat on their hands and done next to nothing to connect Scottish homes to superfast internet speeds.
“It’s been left to the SNP Government at Holyrood to take up the mantle and invest £600 million in the R100 programme to ensure superfast broadband speeds reach every corner of Scotland.
“The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital connectivity - helping thousands of people in Midlothian and East Lothian work from home, keeping us in touch with loved ones and supporting our local health service.
“While the Tories might be happy to sit in the slow lane, this SNP Government won’t stop until 100% of Scottish homes are connected to superfast broadband by the end of 2021.”
COUNCIL TAX REDUCTION SCHEME SUPPORTS 7,060 LOCAL HOUSEHOLDS IN EAST LOTHIAN AND 6,160 HOUSEHOLDS IN MIDLOTHIAN
SNP GOVERNMENT ASSISTING LOW INCOME HOUSEHOLDS DURING PANDEMIC
New figures released this week reveal that 7,060 households across East Lothian and 6,160 households across Midlothian were supported by the SNP Government’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme in June 2020.
Across Scotland, almost 500,000 Scots received the support in June, with the number of local households in receipt of the Council Tax Reduction support rising by 350 households in East Lothian and 170 households in Midlothian since April 2020.
The scheme that provides financial support to low income households, saved families in East Lothian an estimated total of £110,000 a week in June and families across Midlothian saved £103,000 a week in June.
Commenting, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said:
“With many families struggling to get by in the face of this pandemic, the SNP Government is supporting almost half a million households with their council tax bill.
“In June alone, the Council Tax Reduction scheme has helped 7,060 households in East Lothian and 6,160 households in Midlothian.
“While the Tories at Westminster are gearing up to prematurely end the furlough scheme, and throw thousands of Scottish jobs on the scrap heap, the SNP Government is standing up for low income households in Mid- and East Lothian, and helping relieve the financial pressures caused by Coronavirus.”
FREE, ANONYMOUS APP WILL HELP STOP THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 AND SAVE LIVES
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has urged people in Midlothian and East Lothian to download the new ‘Protect Scotland’ app - to help slow the spread of Coronavirus and support the easing of lockdown restrictions.
The app can be downloaded onto phones and will let users know if they have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
The app will automatically alert users if someone reports that they’ve tested positive for Covid-19 and that they have been in close contact recently.
No personal identifiable information will be entered on the app and the Scottish Government has assured that it will not monitor the location of individuals as the app uses Bluetooth technology, and not GPS, to identify contacts.
Since launching last night, the app has already been downloaded more than 50,000 times.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“The Scottish Government has now launched the ‘Protect Scotland’ proximity tracing app, to help stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus and complement the person-to-person approach of Test and Protect.
“The app - which takes less than a minute to download - will allow us to alert people at risk far more quickly, so that we can all take steps to reduce the risk of infecting others.
“Scotland’s official contact tracing app will help us all to protect ourselves, our family, our friends and our community by enabling faster contact tracing.
“The more people who have the app, the more it can help to slow the spread of Coronavirus.
“That’s why I’m urging people in Midlothian and East Lothian to download the app, and let’s all protect Scotland.”
ANTI-POVERTY PAYMENT COULD BENEFIT AROUND 4,100 CHILDREN IN MIDLOTHIAN AND OVER 4,000 CHILDREN IN EAST LOTHIAN
“GAME-CHANGER” BENEFIT CENTRAL TO SNP AMBITION TO TACKLE CHILD POVERTY
An estimated around 4,100 children across Midlothian and over 4,000 children across East Lothian could benefit from the Scottish Government’s ground-breaking anti-poverty payment, new figures have revealed.
The Scottish Child Payment will be worth £10 per child for low-income families by the end of 2022, with introduction for under-6s starting by early 2021.
Latest figures from the Scottish Fiscal Commission estimate that 194,000 children aged under six in Scotland will be eligible for the new Scottish Child Payment - with 4,100 children and families estimated to benefit from the payment in Midlothian and over 4,000 children and families in East Lothian.
The brand new benefit was described as a “game changer” and a “lifeline” by anti-poverty campaigners and is central to the SNP’s ambitions to tackle child poverty.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“The Scottish Child Payment is an ambitious and ground-breaking new benefit which will directly tackle child poverty across the country.
“This support is needed more than ever, and when this additional £10 per week per child becomes available in February, it will be a lifeline for many such families in Midlothian and East Lothian.
“It will help reduce financial pressures and demonstrates the potential of social security to make a positive difference and reflect our society’s shared values of compassion and fairness.
“Tory cuts are driving too many families in Midlothian and East Lothian into poverty – but the SNP is determined to use every power at our disposal to help families make ends meet.”
Celebrating the 813 potential lifesavers in Midlothian North and Musselburgh this Blood Cancer Awareness Month
To mark Blood Cancer Awareness Month this September, Colin Beattie MSP took part in a digital ‘Day of Action’ to celebrate the number of potential stem cell donors in Midlothian North and Musselburgh on the Anthony Nolan register and raise awareness of the urgent need for more donors in light of the challenges to donor recruitment presented by the pandemic.
This day was marked by Anthony Nolan on Wednesday 9 September, as part of its Communities vs Blood Cancer campaign, which shines a spotlight on vital work being done locally to ensure that every patient in need of a stem cell transplant can find a lifesaving donor.
Anthony Nolan’s lifesaving work has been greatly enhanced at a local level by the charity’s eleven-year partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, who undertake vital work in schools through the SFRS Education Programme.
In Midlothian North and Musselburgh, 813 potential stem cell donors are registered with Anthony Nolan. Only 20 of these donors are men aged 16-30, and the average age is 34.
In total, more than 800,000 people in the UK are on the Anthony Nolan register, any of whom could be a match for someone with blood cancer and asked to donate their stem cells to give a patient a second chance of life.
Now, Colin Beattie is encouraging more people from Midlothian North and Musselburgh, particularly men aged 16-30 and people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds, to register as stem cell donors and make sure that a match is available for everyone in need of a transplant. While anyone on the register could be a match for someone with blood cancer, men aged 16-30 are most likely to be asked to donate. They provide more than 50% of donations yet make up just 18% of the register. There is also a shortage of donors from non-white and mixed-race backgrounds.
Colin Beattie MSP said: “I am very proud that Midlothian North and Musselburgh has 813 registered donors, any one of whom could offer the only chance of giving someone with blood cancer a second chance at life. Donating stem cells is straightforward but it could make an enormous difference to someone with no other chance of a cure.”
Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “In the last year 813 selfless Scots from Midlothian North and Musselburgh joined the Anthony Nolan register, each one representing hope for patients with blood cancer, and blood disorders, in need of matching stem cell donors.
“This Blood Cancer Awareness Month residents can be proud of all the lifesavers in your community. To everyone from Midlothian North and Musselburgh who has taken the decision to join the register, thank you. It is vital we recruit more ethnically-diverse, young, male, donors to ensure everyone who needs a transplant can access one. Without you, there is no cure.”
For more information on Anthony Nolan visit anthonynolan.org/join
Anthony Nolan uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer patients in desperate need of a stem cell transplant. It also carries out vital research to make stem cell transplants more successful and supports patients through their transplant journeys.
NEW £10 MILLION FUND WILL SUPPORT RENTERS IN MIDLOTHIAN NORTH AND MUSSELBURGH
MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has said a new £10 million fund announced by the SNP Government will support people struggling to pay their rent across Lothian.
Announced earlier this week, the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund will open later this Autumn and offer interest-free loans to those unable to access other forms of support for their housing costs.
The Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) fund which helps tenants in receipt of benefits will also increase by £3 million, bringing the total to £19 million. This is in addition to measures already in place to fully mitigate the Tory bedroom tax in Scotland.
The SNP Government has also extended legislation to protect private and social tenants from eviction until March 2021 – pending approval from Holyrood.
Commenting, local MSP Colin Beattie said:
“Coronavirus is the biggest health crisis of our time, but as we look to rebuild our economy and regain a sense of normality, we can’t simply go back to how things were.
“We know that the pandemic has hit the lowest earners hardest - that’s why the SNP Government has announced a range of measures designed at tackling inequality and supporting those who need it most.
“This new £10 million fund, coupled with existing housing benefits, will mean that no one in Midlothian or East Lothian should be left in a position where they can’t access support to pay their rent.
“It’s only right that while we continue working together to suppress the virus, the SNP Government does all it can to support tenants during these tough times.”
LOCAL MSP: COVID RECOVERY PLAN WILL CREATE NEW JOBS IN MIDLOTHIAN NORTH AND MUSSELBURGH
The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced an ambitious Programme for Government aimed at ensuring a strong economic recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.
Under the commitments, all young people in Scotland aged 16 to 24 will be guaranteed a job, education, apprenticeship or formal training through a new £60 million government scheme.
By this Autumn, a £100 million Green Jobs fund will be launched to help up to 10,000 people of all ages retrain for jobs in growth sectors such as renewables.
The SNP government has also announced a new £10 million Tenant Hardship Fund, which will open later this year and offer interest-free loans to those unable to access other forms of support for their housing costs.
£500 million will also be invested in infrastructure to support active travel.
A comprehensive independent review of adult social care will also take place – setting out options for the creation of a National Care Service.
Commenting, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said:
“Coronavirus has been the greatest public health crisis in our lifetime – impacting our health, economy and our way of life.
“The SNP government has made it its mission to create new jobs in Midlothian and East Lothian. This is a Programme for Government that protects people’s livelihoods, guarantees opportunities for all our young people and points the way to a future with better, greener jobs as Scotland looks to becoming a net-zero country.
“We can’t simply go back to how things were – we have an opportunity to build back a fairer and better Scotland.
“That’s why the First Minister has announced these unprecedented measures to help us reform social care, protect our young people and invest in our local economy – all while continuing to suppress the virus.
“As ambitious as these commitments are, the Scottish Government continues to fight Coronavirus with one hand tied behind its back. Westminster’s plans to end to the furlough scheme prematurely and crash out of the EU without a deal later this year, will be deeply damaging.
“As an independent European nation, we could do so much more.”
To find out what I've been doing in Parliament, click on me!