Hundreds of residential homes may close, warns care chief



HUNDREDS of care homes could close in Scotland if issues around the cost-of-living and NHS crises are not addressed, ministers have been warned.

Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, which represents private and charity run care homes, raised his concerns about the situation in homes across the country.

He predicted that up to 40 per cent of the 800 homes (320) could be forced to shut due to the current crisis across the health service.

Many homes are struggling to recruit staff as a result of pay, work pressure and investigations over Covid deaths in residential care. 

As result of a lack of beds in the sector many hospital patients, who are not acutely ill but need care support, cannot be discharged compounding problems in the health service.

Mr Macaskill told the BBC’s Sunday Show: “Unless we address those issues we will not have a social care sector for older people in terms of residential care worth its name by next spring.”

People falling ill to flu has also put added strain on services while elderly people could be forced to move home if problems are not addressed, according to Macaskill.

He added: “We have we have just over 800 care home as our members, the vast majority are small family run businesses. If you’re part of a larger group, you’re much more sustainable.

“We have estimated that between 30 and 40 per cent of that total, unless we address as you rightly say soaring energy costs, soaring food costs, workforce costs, not least agencies and a whole manifold range of real pressures, not least of which is spiralling numbers of people falling ill to the flu.

“Unless we address those issues we will not have a social care sector for older people in terms of residential care worth its name by next spring.

“The consequences first and foremost are the lives and the quality of life of some of our most important citizens are going to be profoundly impacted and affected.

“You do not want in your 90s having arrived at a place where you were finally able to be supported in your advanced dementia to be informed that you’re going to have to move to a different place because that care home cannot sustain itself.

“We cannot allow in the midst of the current crisis, the quality care and provision of older people to be sacrificed simply because people are not attending to the real issues that are facing the sector.”

Depute SNP leader and Justice Secretary Keith Brown described the situation in Scotland as “serious”.

He said: “It’s a serious situation, and I think that’s been acknowledged by the health secretary. The priority now is to try and get a pay deal over the line to make sure we can keep people at work.

“The structure of the situation in the UK whereby the health consequentials very much relate to what the UK government’s priority are mean that I think for years now we failed to match other European countries.”





Source link

NHS faces ‘terrifying’ winter, Scots A&E doctor warns



A Scots accident and emergency doctor has warned it is “terrifying” to think how the NHS will fare this winter.

The health service is already under enormous strain, with particular struggles seen in emergency departments, and Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has admitted this winter could be among the “most challenging” the NHS has ever seen.

Dr Lailah Peel, the deputy chairwoman of BMA Scotland, said there “doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel”.

She told the BBC’s Sunday Show: “It’s terrifying each time I think about it.

“Yesterday I thought ‘it’s a better day actually, it’s only taking us an hour-and-a-half to see patients’, and by the end of my shift it was a five, six-hour waiting time.

“I think the problem is there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s just getting worse instead of better.”

READ MORE: Scot Gov finds £33m to fund NHS wage rises as cost of living gap soars

Dr Peel said there needs to be “open and public conversations” about what needs to be done to fix a health service she claimed is “collapsing”.

This week, leaked minutes of a meeting caused uproar when they showed NHS bosses had discussed the creation of a “two-tier system where the people who can afford to, go private”.

The Scottish Government was quick to stamp out any notion it would consider such a move, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon rejecting the idea.

When asked about needed reforms, Dr Peel said: “I’d like to see open and honest conversations being had with all the relevant stakeholders, including the public.

“The system as it is at the moment just isn’t working.

“We need to change it, we need to accept that we can’t do everything we’re doing right now, whether that would mean de-prioritising some things, prioritising others, we need to be having open and public conversations about what the future of the NHS involves.”

Asked if the public understands the extent of the problems facing the NHS, Dr Peel said: “Not at all.”

She added that she hopes politicians understand the problem, but “I’m not seeing enough to show that”.

Responding on the same show, Justice Secretary Keith Brown acknowledged the NHS is in a “serious situation”.

He added: “I think we should have a wide-ranging conversation (about the future of the NHS) but it’s important to underline the fact that both the First Minister and Humza Yousaf have said we’re not going to detract from the single focus of being free at the point of use.

“But yes, of course we should have that conversation.”





Source link

Eilean Donan Castle: A winter view of Scotland’s most famous castle

I thought organised group travel wasn’t for me…but I was wrong

TAUCK. A tour operator, based in the US. Ever heard of them? Probably not, but you should.

I don’t generally like organised group travel of any sort, but, with Tauck, I’ll make the exception.

They are just brilliant at what they do.

Now in its third generation of family ownership, Arthur Tauck Jnr heads up a company that offers land tours and cruises in over 70 countries – and everything – and I do mean everything – is included in the up-front price.

One of the main joys of going Tauck is that you will get so many ‘surprises’ that the average traveller can never achieve. Whether it’s getting into Monet’s gardens at Givenchy before they open and the crowds pour in, or it’s a dinner in a private castle not open to the public, it makes the whole experience truly special.

I recently took one of their river cruises – down the Douro River in Portugal. Starting in Lisbon and ending after a bit of overlanding in Salamanca and Madrid, it was a wonderful experience, in a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage landscape.

The leisurely pace of exploring Europe on a vessel carrying around 85 guests makes it way more relaxing and far more intimate than a large cruise ship – in fact, there’s no comparison. We had under 70 guests on our beautiful boat – the ms Andorhina, and the staff were superb.

After a few days everyone had met everyone and friendships were being formed – some that will, I expect will last a lifetime.

Obviously as an American company, most travellers come from the US, with a smattering from Canada and the odd Brit. The type of traveller you find on a Tauck river cruise are seasoned travellers in their later years.

I travelled on my own but could not recommend it highly enough for a single’s holiday – way better than any ocean-going cruise I’ve been on as a solo.

A river cruise ship docks right in the heart of a city, so there aren’t any long transfers to reach the different attractions along your route. You just stroll off the ship and you’re there.

With a small swimming pool on the sun deck, a spacious restaurant, a bistro restaurant, a panoramic lounge and bar and a good variety of staterooms for different budgets, it’s a great base for a week. This vessel was designed specifically for cruising the Douro. It is only two years old and easily the nicest boat on offer to tour this region.

The beds are comfortable, the showers hot and the food is especially good.

Good news for Scots is that regional flights are included in the overall price – as are all meals and drinks, including alcohol and quality wines.

Why did I choose the Douro itinerary over others? Because it’s a hugely picturesque river valley with dramatic cliffs, lush hillsides, medieval walled villages and beautiful vineyards.

Lisbon is the starting point for this trtip and we were billeted for two nights in the Inter Continental Hotel. I really like this city – it’s has a shabby chic vibe and plenty of top sightseeing. Sitting atop seven hills over centuries, the city is home to cobbled lanes, castles in the clouds and maritime monuments that pay lasting tribute to Portuguese explorers like Vasco da Gama who changed the world.

Prices in Portugal are still reasonable for our weakened Pound, and

Stop one was Coimbra, Portugal’s medieval capital for more than a century. A walking tour along the tiered cobbled lanes of this hilltop city brings you to its esteemed university, founded here in 1537, where its caped students evoke images of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School, its majestic buildings line squares steeped in history and cloistered arcades lead to architectural showpieces beautiful to behold.

From there their itinerary takes you to another favourite of mine – Porto.

Porto’s pleasures are diverse and one of Tauck’s little ‘surprises’ was to ride a historic tram from the Foz Quarter to the medieval riverfront district. A tasting tour followed, in a refreshingly small group size.

In addition to having an experienced Cruise Director on the boat, you have two Portuguese guides with you from the minute you arrive until the flight home. And on top of that you get local guides in pretty much all the destinations. It’s this degree of service that makes Tauck stand out. I was recovering from major back surgery and was slightly nervous about the trip, but I couldn’t have been better looked after.

There are various visits to wine-making estates or quintas, but this is not a cruise one would take to see big sight after big sight. It’s great to just chill though.

The idyllic village of Pinhão, situated at a scenic bend of Portugal’s Douro River, is considered the gateway to the quintas and large wine estates of the Douro River Valley, one of Europe’s oldest and revered wine making regions. A choice of shore excursions today includes a walk in pretty Pinhão, nestled in the heart of port wine country, with a visit to its historic tile-covered train station, a vision of blue and white Azulejo tiles – or a vigorous hike through the area’s lush, sloping terraced vineyards with striking views of the town and river.

Around 20,000 years ago prehistoric man called the Coa Valley home, leaving evidence of their residence on rocks in the Coa Valley. Here we visited the Museum of Art and Archaeology of the Côa Valley – amazing exhibits of rock art from the valley’s Paleolithic era, discovered in the 1990s when excavations began for a Côa River dam.

Madrid was a good end to the 12-day trip, and the overall experience was, decidedly first class.

You might not have heard of Tauck, but once you’ve been on one of their trips, I very much doubt it’ll be your last.

For details, see www.tauck.co.uk

Me and my midlife crisis … on the psychotherapist’s couch


This week our Writer at Large went to interview the renowned psychotherapist Andrew Jamieson about his latest book exploring how a midlife crisis is actually good for you. Soon, though, he found himself on the couch, discovering more than he bargained for…


OSTENSIBLY, I’m here to interview the renowned psychotherapist Andrew Jamieson about his latest book which sets out a paradigm-shifting take on the infamous midlife crisis.

Not only is the midlife crisis good for you, Jamieson contends, it is actually an essential part of the human story, and the definitive path to making us all better people.

However, the conversation soon takes a turn towards my life, and Jamieson begins analysing me. I mention that his book, Midlife: Humanity’s Secret Weapon, really chimed with me. I saw echoes in my own life.

An hour later and I have learned that I have gone through my own midlife crisis and didn’t even know it. I’m 52 but over recent years I have basically ticked off much of the midlife crisis checklist.

Quit a job unexpectedly? Tick: resigned as a newspaper editor. Health scare? Tick: hospitalised with kidney problems that nearly finished me off. Psychological upset? Tick: diagnosed with PTSD related to a mock execution that happened when I was a reporter in Northern Ireland. Changes in personal circumstances? Tick: purged people who I felt were toxic to be around. Lifestyle change? Tick: I no longer smoke, hardly drink after years of overindulgence and, despite a lifetime of indolence, now regularly exercise.

Changing opinions? Tick: I’m more mellow politically and hopefully more empathetic. Even my cultural tastes have altered. I no longer gorge on dark TV, horror movies, extreme fiction and angry music. I’m now more likely to be found listening to Classic FM or contentedly watching Paddington movies. Have I become a bit boring? Probably. Am I happier? Yes, 100 per cent.

HeraldScotland: Psychotherapist Andrew Jamieson says a midlife crisis is an essential part of the human storyPsychotherapist Andrew Jamieson says a midlife crisis is an essential part of the human story (Image: Newsquest)

Forget the Harley

THE key to understanding Jamieson’s thoughts on midlife crisis is this: it’s not about some 50-year-old buying a Harley-Davidson and running off with the au pair or plumber. It’s about reaching a mature stage in life, and realising – probably subconsciously – that you haven’t been the person you could be: the “best you”.

From there, you start changing in significant, sometimes very hard ways, which bring about enough of an alteration in how you live your life that you become closer to the person you always wanted to be. It’s not magic: you don’t suddenly stop picking your nose or become Jesus. You are still a flawed, imperfect, foolish human – you just learn to be more comfortable in your skin, after taking honest stock of who you are and how you can be better.

First world problems, some would say. Certainly, there is truth in that. If you are hungry or at war, there is no time or energy to work on whatever “new version” of you needs to be created. But we live in the developed world, we are humans made of flesh and blood, and if we can improve ourselves without hurting others, why not?

So, what is a midlife crisis? “The curve of life goes through a series of stable patches, interrupted by a sudden unstable phase when suddenly everything seems out of kilter and wrong,” Jamieson says.

A midlife crisis can take place anywhere between the late 20s and the end of life although old age is the worst time to experience these upheavals, as there are few years left to enjoy the benefits of change.

The peak period, though, is from the late 30s to the early 50s, when perhaps boredom has set in around work or relationships, children have grown up, and there’s a sense of time ticking away. Death looms in the imagination.

Killer whale theory

BASICALLY, a midlife crisis is like a boil on the body. Years of psychological pressures from childhood to the present day just build up and have to pop, otherwise you will be poisoned.

Jamieson notes that “only two species of mammal” experience midlife and “have a post-reproductive life that lasts longer than their reproductive life”: killer whales and humans.

Orcas are led by older, wiser females who have been through every challenge the seas can throw at them and know the best hunting grounds to keep their pod alive. In humans, midlife crisis, Jamieson posits, also creates older, wiser members of the group who provide a “balance between the energy, vigour and competitiveness of those in the first half of life, and the experience, dignity and wisdom of those in the second”.

The power of midlife is most evidenced in tribal societies where age is still venerated, unlike in the West where youth is idolised. In tribal societies, elders who have lived hard lives and come through are “guardians of the ethical approach to life”. A society which simply “follows the young warrior class is doomed”.

In other words, for human society to be its best, it needs both youthful energy and older knowledge.

Midlife provides the bridge. Jamieson’s theories make intuitively good sense – though not for a minute am I claiming to have suddenly become a sage.

I’m just less wild and more comfortable “being me”.

Cuban missle test

JAMIESON notes how in moments of group crisis, it is often older people – who have crucially gone through the rigours of midlife and emerged in better shape than when they went in – who come to the fore offering wise counsel.

The US diplomat Adlai Stevenson, he says, experienced intense distress in midlife, leading to the collapse of his marriage. He was central, though, to providing the patience and calm needed to shepherd a still youthful John F Kennedy through the Cuban missile crisis, averting “armageddon”.

Humans, however, have a strange relationship to both midlife and midlife crisis. Often older people – particularly women – are sidelined, yet we seek the counsel of elders in moments of extremis. Humanity both fears and mocks midlife – just look at movies like American Beauty or Falling Down. However a cursory perusal of world culture shows we have always known just how important it is: Homer’s Odyssey tells the story of a man who goes through intense torment in midlife before becoming older and wiser.

The Divine Comedy begins with Dante writing these lines: “Midway upon the journey of life, I found myself within a dark forest, for the straightforward path had been lost, Oh how hard a thing it is to say.” Dante literally goes to hell, bides a while in purgatory, then discovers paradise. The midlife crisis, Jamieson says, always comes with a “liminal” stage – a period of waiting between dark crisis and positive change, just like purgatory.

Midlife crisis, he says, “is an evolutionary move to produce a cadre of elders” who keep society in balance. Each and everyone one of us will experience midlife crisis. It’s how we deal – or don’t deal – with it that matters.

So, Jamieson notes the life of Mary Ann Evans, the Victorian writer who experienced enormous upheaval and shame in her 30s over an adulterous relationship. She quite literally reinvented herself post-crisis, and is better known today as George Eliot.

The Trump factor

HOWEVER, for every Adlai Stevenson and George Eliot there’s a Trump or Putin. “They just stick,” says Jamieson. They either can’t or won’t change in midlife. The fact so many of these types – nearly all men – display narcissistic traits probably explains the refusal to reevaluate their lives. And tackling “ego” is, as Jamieson says, central to navigating midlife successfully.

Horribly, not dealing with a midlife crisis can potentially have devastating consequences. One of Jamieson’s clients stopped therapy mid-crisis and later killed herself.

Most of our psychological troubles lie, as we know, in childhood. Clearly, the process of birth is intensely traumatic. We might not remember it but as newborns, Jamieson explains, we’re flooded with fear and anxiety hormones. As babies, it is impossible to deal with such trauma. Much of early childhood also remains intensely traumatic.

As infants, we are completely dependent on our parents, especially our mothers whom we bond most closely with. Any sense of abandonment – mum or dad going to work, say – drenches us again in fear and anxiety. This all leaves an indelible “wound”, Jamieson explains.

All of us grow up creating psychological mechanisms to protect us from fears like abandonment. To heal ourselves, we sublimate our fears, hiding from our true feelings – we build up a tough outer shell that is essentially fake. This all makes for a toxic egotistical mix of “narcissism and grandiosity”, says Jamieson. These “defences” are a “great pool of dysfunctionality … projection, denial, regression and deflection”, he adds.

The mask

THAT means “our true self” is pushed down – hidden. In essence, we wear a mask – “a persona” – that helps us get through this cruel world we all live in. But no one can live inside a mask forever. If the mask eventually comes off, says Jamieson, quoting Abraham Lincoln, then we free “the better angels of our nature”.

The Lincoln quote is crucial: Lincoln also went through intense agonies in midlife, seeing himself as a complete failure only to emerge as one of the wisest presidents in American history. Fundamentally, a midlife crisis is about finding a way to become less “ego-orientated” and therefore of more use to society through being our “true selves”.

Jamieson lived through his own midlife crisis. Until his 40s, he was a successful promoter of classical music concerts, then life caught up with him and he “just collapsed completely”. He was tended to by a psychotherapist who had been a patient of Carl Jung, one of the founders of modern psychiatry. When he recovered, Jamieson, now 71, recreated himself: he retrained as a psychotherapist and became the successful practitioner he is today. “I found a second life,” he says. “But there’s always a wound which creates the turmoil of midlife crisis.” Ironically, that wound is, he says, “an enormous potential gift”.

Jamieson’s “wound” lay deep in childhood. His mother adored her father – Jamieson’s grandfather. After Jamieson was born, she returned to her parental home. Jamieson’s father, a naval officer, was at sea. However, within days of Jamieson’s mother returning, her beloved father died.

Her grief gravely disrupted her ability to parent. So, there Jamieson was, a baby who grew into a child, flooded with feelings of fear, anxiety and abandonment. As an adult, his intense workaholic existence was a perfect way to hide from all those issues. Eventually, though, life – the past, childhood – caught up with him and emotionally he was knocked for six.

Conformist hell

SOCIETY, school and work reinforce all these negative aspects of our characters. School and work demand both conformity and a form of ego-driven narcissism to succeed. Teachers and bosses don’t care about your feelings. “To survive, you must be extremely selfish.”

And without conformity, “you’re not going to make progress”, Jamieson says. But these “defences corrupt your true nature” – they suffocate the person you could be.

Counterintuitively, success can often trigger midlife crisis. “People get to the top and then realise they’ve used the wrong ladder,” he explains. “They have lived lives that don’t suit them and they need to reverse. That’s why crisis and opportunity go hand in hand. You’ve got to reconfigure your life without causing too much collateral damage.”

Clearly, though, if handled wrong, midlife crisis can end in divorce and family rupture.

However, if you navigate it right, a midlife crisis, says Jamieson, will leave you without “constant past regrets that hound you, and without fear of the future”. Psychotherapists call this process “individuation”. If a midlife crisis is properly “explored, examined and overcome”, Jamieson adds, “the real self comes out – our anxieties and depression will lift”.

He adds: “The manner in which we conduct our closest relationships will be transformed. Our compassion will deepen as our self-centredness diminishes. Our capacity for humility will be extended. Our concerns about our mortality will diminish.

“Elements of our creativity which have lain dormant for years will be revealed. Our sense of soulfulness and our interest in spirituality will emerge. Such is the power of the kind of self-realisation … which can be the eventual consequence of the midlife crisis.”

The shadow

JAMIESON says you can often spot someone who has come out the other side of a midlife crisis, as the changes in their character are so marked. A little suffering means you are more likely to feel empathy for others.

“That’s what we should all be aiming for,” he says. It’s about looking inward and confronting the darkest aspects of your nature – “the shadow”, as Jamieson calls it. It is not about “killing off” the shadow, but “integrating” it, and coming to terms with the fact it exists.

That means facing our worst flaws, especially ones we deliberately shy away from: rage, sexuality, or weakness. Jamieson says we all know these truths deep within us even if we fear to act on them. It is no coincidence that one of the earliest philosophical maxims came from the elderly Socrates before his death: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Mummy Merkel

JAMIESON notes the life of Angela Merkel, a woman intensely conflicted between her upbringing in communist East Germany and her personal Christianity. Merkel’s greatest act was opening her country’s doors to one million Syrian refugees – almost as if she was “atoning for the terrible things Germany did in the past”. In Germany, she’s nicknamed Mutti Merkel – Mummy Merkel: the ultimate moniker for a wise, kind, older woman.

Boris Johnson, he suggests, shows all the characteristics of a man going through an unresolved midlife crisis. He has early childhood trauma – his mother had mental health problems and his father was allegedly violent. He grew up intensely narcissistic – the infamous “world king” quote seems to sum that up – plus he has been through marriage break-up and just lost a top job. If Johnson worked on the crisis he is going through, Jamieson suggests, he would be “transformed”.

In some ways, Jamieson contends, the entire human race might be undergoing a midlife crisis. We have had our terrifying infancy – all that scrabbling for survival as hunter-gatherers; our lonely, confused childhood that staggered on until the medieval period; our successful ego-driven adulthood that took us past the Industrial Revolution and into the 20th century; and now, from maybe 1914 onwards, we are in an intense crisis which, if not handled correctly, could destroy us.

Nuclear war and climate change might, metaphorically, be the Harley-Davidson and stupid affair that brings us to our knees.

Humanity, Jamieson suggests, needs to find the “emotional intelligence” which comes from successfully navigating midlife. “If we don’t we’re in trouble.” Midlife, therefore, is “an evolutionary” issue. “To survive, we must make cultural changes towards empathy and compassion.” If humanity has a collective consciousness, then war is simply the lashing out of an angry, stupid adult who never grew up and discovered how to manage conflict.

The carving knife

THE process of resolving a midlife crisis can be deeply traumatic. Some of Jamieson’s clients “fantasise about burying a carving knife in their parents’ chest”. Many negative feelings link back to childhood and that fear of abandonment or the sense that parents are the ones responsible for someone’s “low self-esteem”.

After his own midlife crisis, Jamieson resolved his problems with his mother. One of the key triggers for midlife crisis is our sense of imminent mortality – that come 40 or 50, we’re closer to death. “We’ve just a handful of decades, time is so bloody short,” Jamieson says. Resolving our psychological problems in midlife allows us to better spend “the time that remains to us … and enjoy the fruits of this transformatory experience”.

Carl Jung, who formulated many of the psychological ideas Jamieson follows, also went through a midlife crisis. A successful, highly ambitious young man, he crashed in midlife, breaking friendships and cheating on his wife. Jung emerged from a deep depression to do his greatest work. “He killed his ego,” Jamieson says.

Jung is a perfect example of the “break it to create it” aspect of midlife crisis. Self-sabotage is often a precursor: that’s why the midlife crisis is so linked to that notion of the Harley-Davidson or stupid affair in the popular imagination.

Midlife, he says, is a “thrust towards self-realisation … we exist in order to develop”, adding: “Yet this development can only be achieved through much exacting and painful experience, including the key phase in our middle years that we’ve come to call the midlife crisis.”

Despite the agony, “it always brings happy endings if it’s worked out properly. If you’re prepared to take on the challenge, you’ll be transformed”.

We finish our conversation and Jamieson invites me to meet him again next week, to take our discussions further. I’d be a fool not to accept. Nobody turns their back on synchronicity – and there’s definitely much work still to do.


From November 21 to November 30 2022 the Herald is running a Black Friday subscription offer which provides full access to our unrivalled coverage of news that matters for just £1. To find out more visit: heraldscotland.com/subscribe


Read more big reads by Neil Mackay:





Source link

Covid boosters should be offered to all says Scots scientist


A Scots scientist has backed calls for Covid boosters to be extended to the general population to protect health and ease pressure on the NHS.

Professor Neil Mabbott, personal chair of immunopathology at Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, said it “made sense” to extend the vaccination programme as “we get further into the most at risk groups” because Covid could still cause serious illness in the healthy.

He said research had shown 8 out of 10 people would take a vaccine if they were offered it.

Professor Devi Sridher, who was one of Nicola Sturgeon’s most senior advisors during the pandemic, has also previously called for boosters to be offered to the wider population.

The Scottish Government has said it is being guided by the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) which currently does not advocate for a general roll-out.

It comes as figures suggest uptake of Covid and flu boosters has stalled among the priority groups.

The latest data show 33% (44,136) of social care workers have been vaccinated, 45% of those aged 50-64, 51% who are clinically vulnerable and 50% of frontline health workers.

Flu vaccines have been delivered to 38.4% of those 50-64 and 48% of health workers.

At one vaccination centre in Glasgow 500 people are said to have turned up for 1053 booked appointments.

“It comes back to that thing of making vaccines accessible,” said Prof Mabbot.

HeraldScotland:

“One or two people I’ve spoken to have said they have experienced difficulty booking appointments.

“There are maybe some aspects [of the vaccination process]that can be improved. 

He added: “We could open it up to the rest of the population.

“Up until now, it’s been the strong driver to give the vaccines to those at most need and that makes sense at the earliest stages but I think, once we get significantly into those groupings I think it does make sense to start to offer it up to those in the younger age groups.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon encourages Scots to get their Covid-19 boosters as she gets her jag

He described the uptake as “disappointing” but said some of the lower rates followed trends from early on in the pandemic when vaccines were first made available.

“Hopefully this is being looked into because we need to make sure as many people as possible are vaccinated,” he said.

“There seems to be a few principles behind it.

“One of them is confidence – a lot of people don’t think the vaccines are that effective or have some issues with distrust in scientists.

“There’s a bit of complacency now. We are approaching three years into this and for many young people they don’t consider themselves at risk – and that might be misguided.

“Of course there is still the looming issue of Long Covid. There can be quite a large proportion of people affected even after a very mild illness.”

The latest figures, up to November 20, show that on average there were 606 patients in hospital with Covid-19, an 7.8% decrease from the previous week.

There were 8 new admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) with a laboratory-confirmed test of COVID-19, an increase of 1 from the previous week (13 November 2022)

Of the 1,653,929 people vaccinated against Covid, 91.7% were vaccinated for Flu at the same vaccination appointment.

READ MORE: Nearly half of Scots with Long Covid report ‘no real change’ in symptoms 

Prof Mabbott said vaccination rates were “not disastrous” but said there were were pockets of the population that “we still need to address and engage with”.

He said: “There were certain ethnic groups where there was vaccine hesitancy: Black/Caribbean being a strong driver there.

“Living in a deprived area was also associated with high incidence of vaccine hesitancy.

“There has been a lot of misinformation and it is important not to dismiss that.

“We can expect flu cases and Covid to re-surge as we enter the winter. 

“One of the biggest impacts of Covid and flu potentially is on the health service. It’s still having a big impact.

“Getting on top of all these backlogs and delays…one way we can do that is ensuring as many people as possible are vaccinated.”

Scottish Care, which represents the independent social care sector, say there was a “missed opportunity” to vaccinate care home staff alongside residents which had contributed to lower uptake rates.

Chief Executive, Donald Macaskill said:  “Regretfully in the initial stages of the roll-out, despite clear advice based on the previous year’s high uptake levels, several health boards in their roll-out for care homes did not offer to vaccinate staff at the same time as residents, thereby expecting staff to go to another place to receive the vaccine. 

HeraldScotland:

“Scottish Care regrets that this was a lost opportunity to build on very clear practice that for overworked care and health staff, a successful vaccination programme is based on taking the vaccine to the worker, not the other way around. 

“We are working with boards to ensure that where possible this policy is reversed.”

He added: “We are very aware that there is an urgent need to undertake a national awareness campaign for all who work in health in social care to ensure a greater uptake of the vaccines and will seek to work with partners to continue to convince everyone of the benefits of being vaccinated.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said:“Uptake of booster jabs being offered as part of the winter vaccination programme is encouraging with 1,653,929 administered so far. 

“Those aged 50-64 with no underlying health conditions did not receive scheduled appointments. 

“Instead they received a letter inviting them to book an appointment convenient for them on the NHS Inform website. 

“Appointments for this group became available from 24 October and almost 45% have already had their booster.

“We recognise the important role social care staff play and want to ensure they benefit from the protection offered by vaccination.

“Health Boards are now offering drop-ins for Health and Social Care staff to allow them to get vaccinated at a time and location which suits them.” 





Source link

Michelle Mone: The rise and fall of Scotland’s bra queen


Love or loathe Michelle Mone, she’s always been hard to ignore – the woman herself would credit her business empire to her knack for attracting publicity.

The glare of the public spotlight may not be resting so comfortably on the skin of the bra tycoon though following allegations she and her family used PPE contracts awarded by the British government as the Covid crisis raged to enrich themselves.

The Conservative peer faces a standards investigation in the House of Lords, while her ties to a company tasked with producing hospital gowns for the NHS are being probed by law enforcement and the House of Lords.

It’s just the latest twist in the tale of a self-proclaimed one-woman success story – a story which has had plenty of twists and turns up to this point.

Raised in the East End of Glasgow, Mone first came to prominence in 1999 with the launch of the Ultimo bra, which the entrepreneur said was inspired by her experience of wearing an uncomfortable cleavage-booster and realising she could come up with a better design.

In May of the following year Ultimo launched at the Sak’s Fifth Avenue store in New York City, and it was claimed that Julia Roberts wore one of the bras for her role in Erin Brockovich.

Mone and her company MJM International would go on to launch a range of diet pills, as well as partnering with the likes of ASDA, Debenham’s and doing modelling campaigns with Kelly Brook, Gemma Atkinson and Mel B of the Spice Girls.

HeraldScotland: Michelle Mone, centre, used her first Lords vote to oppose the delay to cut tax credits

Close scrutiny

Almost from the start of Mone’s entrepreneurial career there have been questions surrounding the legitimacy of her much-vaunted achievements.

Her business career started with Canadian beer brand Labatt, with the Scotswoman admitting that she faked details on her CV to land the role. 
Publicity for Ultimo went through the roof thanks to reports that Julia Roberts had worn one of the bras for her Oscar-winning turn in Erin Brockovich, though this has been denied by several of the filmmakers. 

A 2015 profile of Mone in European CEO stated that the actress herself had mentioned the undergarment in her acceptance speech for the Academy Award but if she did then it wasn’t on stage at the ceremony – the footage is freely available on YouTube and features no mention of a bra.

MJM’s ‘Trimsecrets’ diet pills, produced in collaboration with Jan de Vries, were described as having “no scientific basis or rationale” and while the entrepreneur had claimed their efficacy had been proven in clinical trials when questioned by The Guardian, Mone stated that the trial had in fact been a 63-person questionnaire, for which she was unable to produce the results.

Ultimo losses

Questions were also raised over the success of her business empire. Despite claims she was worth £50m, MJM made losses of £780,000 in the 2013 financial year before passing its assets to its parent company, Ultimo Brands, which also made a loss.

A former employee, Scott Kilday, was awarded £15,000 in compensation after discovering a plant pot in his office had been bugged, ostensibly due to fears he was planning to leave and work with Mone’s ex-husband, Michael.

Despite those concerns, Mone began to establish herself as a political player. Setting herself up as a staunch unionist, the businesswoman threatened to leave Scotland if the SNP won the 2007 Holyrood election and was a firm advocate for a No vote in the 2014 independence referendum.

Shortly thereafter she was appointed to an unpaid role as the Conservative government’s ‘start-up czar’, which drew backlash from other entrepreneurs.

HeraldScotland:

Describing Mone as a ‘small-time businesswoman’, Douglas Anderson of Gap Group said: “Her businesses have been no more than excessively over promoted PR minnows gaining unjustified acclaim due to the glamorous sector they happen to be in.

“There is no way, by any measure, that she is qualified to advise anybody on setting up a profitable business, because quite simply, she hasn’t!”.

Mone resigned as a director of MJM in August 2015. It was wound up last year with debts of over £300,000.

Lording it

Mone was given a peerage by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015, but in the following six years spoke just five times and submitted 22 written questions.

Her appointment was criticised by both opposition and Tory figures at the time, with one branding her “a public relations creation, a personal brand rather than a serious businesswoman”.

Prevailing events tended to back that assessment. Her UTan range, launched through UBeauty Global, was claimed by Mone to have cost £1m to develop but the company’s first set of accounts showed it to be worth less than £25,000. 

She and partner Doug Barrowman launched a cryptocurrency in 2018 hoping to raise $80m, with the baroness describing herself as “one of the biggest experts in Cryptocurrency and Blockchain”. By August, The Sunday Times reported that the project had “flopped” and all investors had been refunded.

HeraldScotland: Michelle Mone and Douglas Barrowman's 2017 Christmas card

Mone was also accused in 2019 of sending a racist WhatsApp message describing a man of Indian heritage as “a waste of a man’s white skin”, which she denies, with a representative responding that the baroness and her husband had “built over 15 schools in Africa”.

The biggest scandal of all, however, would break in October of 2020.

PPE ‘fastlane’

In October of 2020 The Herald revealed that the British government had awarded a £122m contract to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to a company run by a former associate of Baroness Mone without going out to tender.

The justification given was that the equipment was needed urgently as cases of Covid spiked, with the contract handed out to supply 25 million gowns for health workers. 

It was awarded by the Department of Health and Social Care just a month after the company, Medpro, was founded. 

The gowns were never used.

A spokeswoman for Baroness Mone said that she had no comment as she has no role or involvement in PPE Medpro, which received over £200m in total via government contracts.

The spokeswoman added: “Mr Barrowman (Mone’s husband) is also not involved in the company… and is not a Director or Shareholder.”

It later emerged that Mone had referred the company to the government in March 2020. Leaked emails later suggested she had been promoting Covid tests sold by the company as late as October 2020.

This week leaked documents appeared to show that Mone and her children secretly received £29m from the profits made by Medpro through a secret offshore trust of which they were beneficiaries.

The documents, produced by HSBC, state Barrowman was paid at least £65m by the company and then distributed the funds through a series of offshore accounts, trusts and companies.

The funds landed in Barrowman’s account just before he and Mone’s wedding and honeymoon, while The Sun reported in August 2021 that the bra tycoon’s children had spent more than £3m on property in Glasgow during the pandemic.

Mone’s shared home was raided in April 2022 as part of a National Crime Agency investigation into Medpro, while a separate investigation into standards is taking place in the House of Lords.

For Mone you might say it’s win or bust.





Source link

Scot Gov finds £33m to fund NHS wage rises as cost of living gap soars


A cost of living gap between the rise in Scottish wages and the soaring rate of inflation has doubled in just six months, the Herald on Sunday can reveal.

The development has led to new concerns about the spiralling costs of taxpayer-funded public sector pay rises to plug the gap with inflation running at over 11%.

It has emerged ministers have managed to find £130m-a-year more in taxpayers money to settle the NHS Scotland pay dispute after a “final offer” in June.

The extra cash is over and above the £350m needed to fund the original 5% pay hike summer pay hike offer.

Union sources say that a further £33m was found since a second ‘flat rate’ offer was made and less than two weeks after health secretary Humza Yousaf said that there was no more money to pay NHS staff.

Union sources have said that the improved pay offer averaging 7.5% that has been made to NHS Scotland health workers threatening industrial action will cost the taxpayer some £513m.

In September, it emerged taxpayers were forced to foot a further £200m every year to fund huge local authority staff pay rises and within days the Scottish Government said savings of £500m would have to be made following the pay awards.

The lowest income households are expected to be hit hardest as UK inflation hit a four-decade high at 11.1% two weeks ago.

Pay As You Earn data for September shows that average gross monthly pay in Scotland is at £2,641 per month – a rise of 5.09% in a year – leaving a cost of living gap of 6.01%.

In April, when inflation was at 7% – average monthly wages in Scotland were at £2593 – an annual increase of 3.9%, leaving a far narrower 3.1% gap.

But in September, last year, the gap was at just 0.4%. The typical Scot took home £2497 a month, seeing a 2.8% annual pay rise when inflation was at 3.2%.

The cost of living is currently rising at its fastest rate in almost 40 years, largely due to the war in Ukraine.

Energy and food prices have shot upwards, leaving many people struggling to pay their bills.

HeraldScotland: People who receive benefits and others will receive boosts thanks to the council's Cost of Living 'vouchers'. 
Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire.

The cost of living gap will put further pressure to put up the salaries of the public sector in particular, where spending is controlled by the policies of politicians.

Scotland’s Auditor General has warned that a higher public sector wage bill – brought about by settled wage claims with the likes of train drivers and local authority workers could fuel Scottish Government overspending this year and “could have implications for future budgets”.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress, which has 40 affiliated unions, insisted urgent action must be taken to close the cost of living gap and for pay to keep up with inflation.

STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “The inexcusable abandonment from the UK Government on soaring inflation has sent the cost-of-living spiralling. Workers should not be held to ransom for the inaction of Tory politicians.

“The STUC has been abundantly clear: we must raise public sector pay, giving working people throughout the country more money in their pockets to help stimulate their local economy.

“We cannot return to austerity. The energy companies, corporations and pandemic profiteers have made a killing these past years on the backs of their workforce. It’s high time both governments – Scottish and UK – use their powers and tax the wealth, land and property of those with the most in our society. They won’t struggle to survive this winter; it’s those with the least who will.”

Teachers are the latest to escalate strike action saw schools shut on Thursday with further strikes being planned.

The £515m NHS Scotland deal is now being considered by the unions.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Mr Yousaf were involved in “extensive” talks ahead of this latest proposal.

Unite and GMB have both suspended action by ambulance staff and confirmed that the offer will be put to members in a ballot.

Unite’s Scottish Ambulance Service members had planned a work-to-rule on Friday and 1,700 GMB members were scheduled to begin a 26-hour strike on Monday.

HeraldScotland: File photo dated 03/10/14 of staff on a NHS hospital ward. A lack of doctors and nurses in the NHS is forcing bosses to pay high rates for agency staff, new analysis shows. Dr Sarah Clarke, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said there is a

The Roya College of Nursing, which had delayed a formal announcement on strikes while negotiations took place this week, confirmed that its board members would consider the detail of an offer that “still does not meet our members’ expectations”.

It had asked for at least 5% above inflation, which is currently 11.1%.

Public services union Unison, have recommended that its 50,000 members including nurses, midwives, health visitors, healthcare assistants, paramedics, occupation therapists, cleaners and porters accept the offer.

One Unison source said: “We think we squeezed the most we can get out the system. If we want anymore, god knows where you can get from.”

NHS pay increases would range from 11.24% for the bottom of band 2 to 5.56% for the top of salary band 7.

The Scottish government said the new deal was a “record high pay offer” for front line employees, including nurses, paramedics, allied health professionals and healthcare support staff.

On November 13 Mr Yousaf said “we don’t have more money for pay deals” and confirmed both he and his Welsh counterpart had written to UK health secretary Steve Barclay to ask for more funding to help avert strike action this winter.

In September Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the new pay agreements after money was found to end a local authority staff dispute had led to a bill of £700m, which meant “taking money from elsewhere”.

Union sources said the local authority group COSLA increased the pay pot from Scotland’s 250,000 local authority workers from around £400m to £600m at the 11th hour allowing the lowest paid staff to get a pay increase of around 10 to 11% following the intervention of the First Minister.

The increase in funding raised questions about how the pay rise was able to be funded days after Nicola Sturgeon and the Deputy First Minister John Swinney insisted there was “no more money”.

That dispute saw piles of rubbish build up in city centres as waste workers went on strike.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney is due to unveil tax and spending plans for the coming year on December 15.

And the Scottish Labour Party has insisted that the protection of public sector wages must be a priority in the forthcoming budget and has called on the Scottish Government to guarantee no frontline public sector worker will be left facing redundancy.

The UK is facing a collapse in living standards, higher bills, tax hikes and increased unemployment as the economy slumps into recession.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said he is having to make difficult decisions to ensure a “shallower downturn”, but the economy was still expected to shrink 1.4% in 2023.

A majority of households will be worse off as a result of Mr Hunt’s decisions, which will see the cap on energy bills increase and the tax burden rise to its highest sustained level since the Second World War.

The Chancellor blamed Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine for a “recession made in Russia”, with the spike in energy prices driving up inflation, but he was also being forced to manage the financial turmoil caused by his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget in September.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast unemployment would rise by 505,000 from 3.5%, to peak at 4.9% in the third quarter of 2024.

Inflation is expected to be 9.1% over the course of this year and 7.4% next year, contributing to a dramatic fall in living standards.

The OBR’s assessment said: “Rising prices erode real wages and reduce living standards by 7% in total over the two financial years to 2023-24 (wiping out the previous eight years’ growth), despite over £100 billion of additional Government support.”

In an effort to get a grip on the public finances, Mr Hunt set out plans for almost £25bn in tax increases and more than £30bn in spending cuts by 2027-28.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is doing everything possible within our limited powers and fixed budget to help address the cost of living crisis. We are unable to raise revenues in-year and have had to find savings from the emergency budget review published this month to support pay and related cost of living pressures.

“However, most of the key policy levers are held by the UK Government, which needs to take urgent action. Despite the UK autumn statement, there was no additional funding for Scottish Government in this financial year.

“We have allocated almost £3 billion in this financial year that will contribute towards mitigating the increased costs crisis, including the provision of services and financial support not available elsewhere in the UK, such as the Scottish Child Payment which is only available in Scotland.”





Source link