Specialist support for health and social care staff

Confidential mental health workforce service.

Health and social care professionals will have access to a new specialist service offering confidential mental health assessment and treatment.

The Workforce Specialist Service will be delivered by experts with experience in treating a range of issues such as stress, anxiety, depression or addiction, with a focus on the impact this may have on a person’s work.

A multidisciplinary team will support anyone who belongs to one of the regulated professions within health and social care. 

It is the latest part of a package of resources available to the workforce, including the National Wellbeing Hub, the National Wellbeing Helpline and specific psychological services provided by health boards at a local level.


Vaccination information campaign

New campaign urges people to ‘roll their sleeves up’.A new campaign encouraging people to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible launches today.

The ‘Roll your sleeves up’ campaign will emphasise the importance of the vaccine and its safety, as well as the prioritisation list set out by Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to ensure those most at risk are vaccinated first.

Vaccination will be offered to 4.5 million people in Scotland and is currently underway for residents of care homes for older people and their carers, frontline health and social care workers, and those aged 80 years and over. Local delivery is being led by NHS boards, who will contact those eligible to arrange their vaccination.

Those aged 70 and over and the clinically extremely vulnerable, including those on the shielding list will receive their first vaccine dose by mid-February, those aged over 65 will receive their first doses by the beginning of March, and vaccination of the wider adult population will commence once the remainder of the JCVI priority groups are complete by early May.


Everyone aged 80 or over in Scotland will be given the Covid vaccine by February, the health secretary has said.

Everyone aged 80 or over in Scotland will be given the Covid vaccine by February, the health secretary has said.

Jeane Freeman also said care home staff and residents, as well as front-line health and social care staff would be vaccinated in the next few weeks.

As of Sunday, 163,377 Scots had been given a first dose of vaccine.

Ms Freeman told BBC Scotland that just under 560,000 people will have been vaccinated by the end of the month.

The Oxford vaccine will be available at more than 1,100 locations from Monday.

Scotland has been given an initial allocation of more than 500,000 doses to use in January.


Grave concerns over ‘perfect storm’ facing NHS

The NHS in Scotland may be unable to cope with any surge in virus infections, according to leading medics in Scotland who have issued a grave warning over the arrival of a new variant of covid-19 when the vaccination programme remains ‘months away from making a significant difference’.

Members of the Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties say the governments of the four UK nations must work more closely together to control community transmission over the Christmas holidays.

They warn the arrival of the new, more transmissible variant of covid-19 during the festive period, combined with the normal winter surge in respiratory illness and hospital admissions, could produce a ‘perfect storm’ that threatens to overwhelm the health service.

All of mainland Scotland entered the highest level of covid restrictions on Boxing Day, while a travel ban between Scotland and England is also in force.

Representatives from the Royal Colleges of Anaesthetists, General Practitioners, Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, Physicians of Edinburgh, and Surgeons of Edinburgh, said:

“We know there is hope on the horizon with the roll-out of a national immunisation programme, with further vaccines likely to be approved shortly.

“However, it will take months for this to make a significant difference, and the short-term situation facing our NHS and public health services remains bleak.

“The NHS and social care across Scotland are now on an emergency footing, with services already severely stretched. Scotland has been able to reduce infection rates, but the new strain is highly infectious and will undoubtedly increase the rate of COVID-19 infection and hospital admissions in the days and weeks ahead.

“We are gravely concerned that this could lead to the NHS being overwhelmed.”

Just before Christmas, people on the shielding list because they are most at-risk of covid-19 were advised to take extra precautions when mainland Scotland entered the level four Boxing Day lockdown.

The Colleges group added: “NHS staff are exhausted but are continuing to work hard to keep the public safe. However, in the face of the new strain, we are calling on the public, once again, to recognise the severity of the situation and take the necessary steps to support our health and social care services.

“Our plea to the public is simple, please do not let your guard down now.

“You must continue to play your part to protect the NHS and save lives. Our general practices are exceptionally busy and our hospitals are already near capacity. We risk facing a ‘perfect storm’ of challenges if we don’t take collective action now to prevent further spread of covid-19.

“We are calling for social distancing to be two metres at all times and for masks to be worn in any situation where you are meeting people who are not in your household or bubble – indoors or outdoors.

“All other potential measures to decrease community transmission should be considered by the government.

“This is urgently required so our NHS can focus on three key tasks – rolling out the vaccine programme, continuing with the rapid testing programmes, and providing emergency care for covid as well as other medical problems.

“Only by continuing to look out for each other and following the rules can we give our NHS doctors, nurses and support staff the best chance to do their jobs in the difficult weeks ahead.”


The Codes of Practice for Social Service Workers and Employers

SSSC Code of Practice for Social Service Workers

The Code of Practice for Social Service Workers sets out clear standards of professional conduct and practice that social service workers must meet in their everyday work.

Workers are responsible for making sure they meet the required standards and that nothing they do, or don’t do, harms the wellbeing of people who use services. The Code is part of the wider package of legislation, practice standards and employers’ policies and procedures that social service workers must meet.

We expect social service workers to meet the standards in the Code and may take action if registered workers fail to do so.

SSSC Code of Practice for Social Service Employers

The SSSC Code of Practice for Social Service Employers sets out the responsibilities of employers in the regulation of social service workers.

Employers are responsible for making sure they meet the required standards and support their workers to meet the standards set out in the Code for Social Service Workers.

The Care Inspectorate take the Codes of Practice into account during inspection of services and may take action to support improvement or require change if providers don’t meet the required standards.


Covid in Scotland: Human rights in adult social care system ‘trampled over’

HUMAN rights of people receiving and delivering adult social care in Scotland have been “trampled over” during the coronavirus crisis – from frontline staff not provided with PPE, to contact denied between care home residents and their families, according to a think tank.

In its submission to the Independent Review of Adult Social Care in Scotland ordered by the Scottish Government, the Common Weal concludes there is a strong argument a National Care Service should be independent of the NHS.

The review – set up in September and due to report by next month – is being carried out by Frank Feeley, a former Scottish Government director general for health and social care and chief executive of NHS Scotland.

The Common Weal said it welcomed the review, but added: “We are concerned, however, that having been prompted in large part by the coronavirus disaster in Scotland’s care homes, which has to date accounted for almost half of all deaths in Scotland from Covid-19, the remit does not include consideration of what has gone wrong.

“While we believe the crisis of the last six months has been a long time coming – the failures were predictable – and it is therefore right to look at its structural causes, the recommendations of the report will need to be judged by the extent to which, if implemented, they might have prevented the current and ongoing crisis in social care, from inadequately trained staff to the denial of human rights.

“We therefore include in our submission a list of the failings in the social care system exposed by Covid-19, most of which should now be considered by the public inquiry into the care home disaster which the Scottish Parliament voted for on November 4. That reinforces the argument that the review cannot ignore the immediate crisis.”

The think tank said it was also concerned that the review was restricted to adult care with no reference to the Independent Care Review for Children, and about the timescales and practicality of what it was being asked to do.

It said timescales had made it impossible for the review to engage with stakeholders “except in a tokenistic way”, a task which had been made more difficult by the coronavirus restrictions.

The report continued: “We believe, therefore, that the review can be no more than a first step in a necessary process of reform and would hope … it identifies areas where more work, consultation and political engagement is required.”

Report author, Nick Kempe, said the review was wide-ranging and had already decided that human rights should be central to its recommendations.

However, he said: “It is doing this without considering how the human rights of people who receive and deliver social care services, who have been trampled over in the Covid-crisis, from the failure to provide frontline staff with proper PPE to the continued denial of contact between care home residents and their relatives … Addressing the lack of resources in social care, so that all who need care receive it, and ensuring that any National Care Service is about people, not profit, is a precondition for a human rights approach to work.”

Common Weal director, Robin McAlpine, added: “Over the course of this year nothing has hit me harder than the work Nick has done on care homes.

“It has left me totally committed to real and proper change for the sake of the older people in care in Scotland and for the sake of our shared humanity.”


Coronavirus: Woman, 108, gets Covid jab at care home

A 108-year-old woman who lived through the Spanish flu pandemic is among the first residents at a care home in Carmarthenshire to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

Mary Keir was one of 37 people at the Llandeilo site to receive their first dose of the Pfizer-Biontech jab.

She said she felt “much safer and happier” having done so.

Covid-19 is the second pandemic she has lived through – she was four at the onset of the 1916 Spanish Flu outbreak.

The retired nurse, from St Davids in Pembrokeshire, worked as a ward sister at Llandough Hospital in Cardiff during and after World War Two.

The Awel Twyi care home said Ms Keir’s was the first hand that shot up when the Hywel Dda University Health Board vaccination team asked who would have the jab.

“I was really happy to have the vaccine, we’ve been waiting for it to be ready,” she said.

“Thank God for the people who have been able to get it for us. We’re very lucky.”

Ros Jervis, director of public health, described the vaccination programme as a “significant moment” for people in west Wales.

“This is not the start of the vaccine roll-out to all care home residents yet but being a part of this pilot will put us in a good place to start once learnings from the care home pilot has been captured.”


Left Out and Locked Down: Scotland in Lockdown study published

The research explored experiences and impacts of lockdown; service access and provision; information sources; and trust and accessibility.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow have today published their report from the Scotland in Lockdown study, “Left Out and Locked Down: Impacts of COVID-19 lockdown for marginalised groups in Scotland”. (this link will take you away from our website). The ALLIANCE participated in this qualitative study alongside a range of other partners across the third sector.

The research focused on the impact of COVID-19 restrictions for four groups already experiencing exclusion, isolation and marginalisation before the pandemic: people having a disability or long-term health condition; people involved in criminal justice; refugees and people seeking asylum who were at risk of destitution; and people surviving domestic abuse or sexual violence.

During the pandemic, many people felt forgotten and invisible, as cuts to services and lost contact led to increased loneliness and distress.  However, they were also at the forefront of developing innovative solutions to overcome and mitigate the barriers imposed by COVID-19. Similarly, the work of third sector organisations supporting disabled people and those with long-term conditions was found to be vitally important.

Part of the report involved an analysis of the ALLIANCE’s social media output, reflecting how organisations shared and tailored information about COVID-19 to their communities, and continued to deliver online resources for third sector organisations.

The study was funded by the Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Government, as part of its rapid COVID-19 research programme and was conducted between July and December 2020.

Find out more and read the full report via the Scotland in Lockdown website (this link will take you away from our website).


19,000 Scots vaccinated in first six days

“A tremendous and momentous turning point” – Scotland’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer hails the progress made after covid-19 vaccinations started last week.

By the end of Sunday 13th December, 18,644 people in Scotland had received their first dose of the only vaccine so far sanctioned for use in the UK.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said this was a “very good start” to the “biggest logistical exercise in the history of vaccination”.

Ms Freeman said: “My thanks go to those who have had the vaccine, given the vaccine and those involved in the planning and delivery of this remarkable effort.”

The news comes as Scotland’s death toll from the virus passed 6,000 – described by the First Minister as a “very distressing milestone”.

The first vaccinations with the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine started in Scotland on the 8th December.

90-year-old Annie Innes was the first care home resident to receive the vaccine on Monday.

It has now been 12 months since the first case of covid-19 was reported to the World Health Organization and there have been 1.6 million deaths from the virus worldwide.

Providing an update on the vaccination programme during the Scottish government’s daily briefing Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nicola Steedman said: “This is an absolutely tremendous, momentous turning point in a pandemic which has stripped so many of us so much of the joys of life.

“…We know it isn’t all plain sailing from here on. As we have explained before, and as you are probably aware, this particular vaccine brings with it some particular logistical challenges in terms of how we store and transport it, but even despite all of that we started delivering crucial vaccinations to our frontline health and social care workers last week and to those working and living in care homes this week.

“We have started as we should, clinically with those most at risk from covid, and as we continue to protect those most vulnerable in our society first and foremost, we will work through society with the vaccination in order of clinical need, as fast as we can and as more vaccines become available.”

Weekly reporting on vaccinations numbers will be available from Public Health Scotland next week.


Care home vaccinations to start this week

Older residents set to receive Covid vaccine first

Residents of homes for older people in Scotland will begin to receive the Pfizer vaccine against coronavirus (COVID-19) from Monday this week.

After more than 5,000 key NHS workers and vaccinators received the Pfizer vaccine in the first few days of the programme, it is now being extended to include care home staff and residents.

The move has been made possible following confirmation that the Pfizer vaccine can be ‘packed down’ into smaller pack sizes. The vaccine, is received in packs of 195 five dose vials which must be diluted before use,  but these can also be  transported in an unfrozen state for up to 12 hours, and can be stored undiluted for up to five days.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has given the go ahead for health boards to do this, making it possible to take the vaccine direct to care home residents or to vaccination centres nearby, with minimal wastage.

Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeane Freeman said that care home residents would be prioritised for receipt of the vaccine from current supplies but warned that pace of the vaccine delivery programme remains dependent on the supply of doses.

She said: “This is another important moment in our journey through the coronavirus pandemic and I am delighted that we have received the authorisation we need to enable us to vaccinate the most vulnerable people in our care homes.

“Officials in the government and our health boards, along with Pfizer, and the MHRA, have worked really hard to allow this to happen and it is another step on the road to our collective recovery and a return to a more normal way of life.

“We are providing the vaccine to people in care homes according to the order of priority set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and we will work through that order of priority as quickly as vaccine supply allows.

“We are hopeful that subject to further stringent approvals, other vaccines may meet MHRA approval for supply – for example, AstraZeneca and Moderna – enabling more vaccinations to take place at a faster rate.”

“In the meantime it remains vital that we all stick to the published restrictions and follow public advice to keep suppressing the virus to as low a level as possible.”