The Scottish Government are currently offering the Covid-19 booster alongside the annual flu jab to those who are eligible. There are some drop-in vaccination centres open, but you can also phone 0800 030 8013 to make an appointment at one of the NHSGGC Community Clinics. It is vital that we are all as well protected as possible against these deathly viruses and vaccination is a key way to achieving this.
As of the 28th October, 92.4% of the Scottish adult population (18+) have received the first dose of the vaccine and 87.4% have received their second dose. These are fantastic uptake rates and will go a long way in protecting lives.
To encourage everyone eligible over 18 years old to receive the vaccine, the Scottish Government established its vaccination certificate scheme which came into effect this month. This means that adults will have to show proof of their vaccination status to enter some events and higher risk venues. This can be carried out via the NHS Scotland Covid Status App or using the paper certificate. The intention is that this scheme will allow businesses to remain open and prevent any further restrictions as we head into autumn and winter. Similar schemes are in place across Europe, including Ireland, Wales and France, so Scotland is not alone in introducing such measures.
Finally, existing Covid-19 safety mitigations in schools will remain in place for now, following advice from senior clinicians. Pupils will continue to be required to wear face coverings in secondary school classrooms as they begin to return from the October break.
Sixth Session of Scottish Parliament Ceremony
On Saturday 2 October, the Opening Ceremony for the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament took place in the Debating Chamber. The Opening Ceremony is a tradition started in 1999 to mark the beginning of every new session of the Scottish Parliament, and was attended by Her Royal Highness, the Queen. As an elected MSP, I had the opportunity to nominate a local hero from the constituency: I selected Donna Foote for all the amazing work she has done in Pollok, especially throughout the pandemic. I was proud to see the Musicians in Exile perform at this event – they are an amazing group of musicians made up from all corners of the world and are asylum seekers and refugees who have chosen to make Scotland their home.
NHS Scotland Academy
As the Health Secretary, I officially launched the new NHS Scotland Academy, which is backed by £9 million of investment, to accelerate training and build the country’s health workforce.
The Academy is a collaboration between NHS Golden Jubilee and NHS Education for Scotland, and it will contribute to improving staffing levels to meeting growing patient needs. It will feature a mix of residential, distance and virtual reality learning, with a range of training programmes linked to recruitment, career progression and redesign of roles.
Furthermore, the Academy is part of the Government’s wider £1 billion commitment to health through the NHS Recovery Plan which focuses on increasing capacity, delivering reforms, and getting everyone the treatment they need as quickly as possible.
Early Learning and Childcare
Tens of thousands of families are saving almost £5000 per child annually thanks to the Scottish Government’s expanded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) offer. Since August, all three and four year olds, and two year olds who need it most, have been eligible for 1140 hours of funded ELC.
Latest figures from the Improvement Service show that 90,890 children were accessing free ELC at the end of August 2021. All eligible families who applied were successful and were offered 1140 hours.
Funding For Those Affected By Psychological Trauma and Adversity
Funding of £1.6 million has been allocated to local authorities across Scotland to help deliver services that can safely support people affected by psychological trauma and adversity.
The funding will allow local authorities to invest in training and staffing to enable public and third sector services – including health, education, justice and housing – to work in ways that understand and support people affected by trauma. The investment will also support involvement of people with lived experience of trauma in the design and delivery of services.
The award is part of the National Trauma Training Programme, led by NHS Education for Scotland, which supports the Scottish Government and COSLA’s aim for trauma-informed workforce and services across Scotland.
In the constituency
- At the start of the month I attended St Paul’s High School’s annual Pupil Parliament elections. Sadly the annual event could not run as normal last year, but this year the pupils were delighted to be able to invite guests and local politicians to attend. A high number of young people stood as candidates in the hope of being elected as a leader for their year group and to represent the pupil voice. It was an excellent, well organised event and I thoroughly enjoyed speaking to the pupils about politics and the election process. A big well done to all of the participants and the successful candidates.
- I have spoken directly with members of the management team from Glasgow and Linthouse Housing Associations about their allocations policy, plans for new build properties and the general challenges they are facing with the extremely high demand and low turnover of homes. These were very productive and insightful meetings.
- October saw Challenge Poverty Week, and I made a video (available on my YouTube and Facebook channels) to highlight the SNP and my commitment to eradicating poverty in Scotland. We have incorporated this in our programme for Government by committing to reduce the cost of living and boost people’s income.
- I welcomed the news that preparations are underway for a Scottish sport media summit which is aimed at exploring, through a collaborative approach, ways to increase visibility and coverage of women’s sport across all platforms.
- I visited the jobs fair at the Silverburn Cinema which was very well attended.
It is more important than ever to ensure people have access to jobs in our recovery from the pandemic. There are still some job vacancies on the Silverburn website which I would encourage job seekers to apply to.
- I was disappointed but not surprised to hear the announcement of the UK Budget which will leave so many families in Glasgow worse off . The Tory UK Government’s budget makes it clear that Independence is the only way to give Scotland a fair recovery from the pandemic. The UK Government is failing the people of Scotland by neglecting to tackle the cost of living crisis, the Brexit crisis and the climate crisis. Meanwhile, in the same budget they have prioritised cutting the cost of champagne and giving tax breaks to bankers – it is profoundly clear where the Tory’s priorities lie. Scotland has made its voice plainly clear when voting overwhelmingly for a different future in May’s election by giving the SNP the highest share of the votes since the dawn of devolution – this is a clear mandate for an independence referendum which is the only way to keep Scotland safe from immoral and self-centred Tory cuts.