Welcome return for routine healthcare
Charities and campaigners have welcomed routine health services have now recommenced. Eye care, breast cancer screening and counselling support groups are among the services resuming as coronavirus restrictions ease.The relaxation is part of the Scottish government's route map out of lockdown in the wake of the pandemic. Other changes scheduled for today will see rules relaxed on outdoor sports coaching. It comes after shielding was paused at the weekend for people considered more vulnerable to Covid-19. The latest changes mean routine eye care services can be provided within community optometry practices and in patients' own homes from Monday. The breast cancer screening programme - which was paused in March - will see anyone not given an appointment because of the lockdown, receive a letter in the coming weeks. Non-NHS drug and alcohol support groups will also be able to provide essential services, following relevant guidance and with physical distancing. For sports coaches, they will now be able to meet with groups of more than four households at a time, although in-door sport facilities will remain closed.
North east organisation hits out at gym ban
A north-east charity boss has challenged the Scottish Government to publish scientific evidence showing gyms and indoor sport centres need to remain closed after the latest blow for the dormant industry. Furious chairman of Sport Aberdeen, Tony Dawson, has hit out at the “glaring disconnect between the need for people to maintain good levels of physical and mental health at this time” and government “determination to prevent them from accessing the gyms and leisure facilities”. He has warned around half of all public gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports courts are at risk of going to the wall by the end of the year. Last week, the first minister advised it could be September 14 before those facilities are allowed to reopen. Nicola Sturgeon said opening sooner could risk the planned return of Scotland’s schools next week, but promised rules would be reviewed in three weeks time. It is understood Sport Aberdeen, the council’s arms-length trust running the city’s leisure facilities, had heard the Scottish Government was to announce help for the industry on Friday. When nothing came of that, Dawson said: “I can only surmise that the Scottish Government either does not care about the physical and mental wellbeing of the people of Scotland, or does not know what it is doing. The steps taken across the gym and leisure industry to ensure that indoor facilities are safe, clean and ready to welcome people back are robust and well documented, and gyms have been safely operating across Europe for several weeks.” Pubs and restaurants were allowed to reopen last month and already the first minster – seeing a worrying rise in the number of coronavirus cases – has been forced to urge the country’s young people to rethink how regularly they are going to restaurants.
Key workers’ good will should extend to pay
Service staff working for public and voluntary sectors will deliver a petition to Nicola Sturgeon today on behalf of thousands of key workers, calling on the Scottish Government to recognise the sacrifices of those on the frontline by bringing forward a coronavirus bonus payment. GMB Scotland members are campaigning for a £2 an hour additional payment for every hour worked during the lockdown, a figure that would deliver a retrospective payment of as little as £85 extra per week on the basic rate of pay for frontline staff, many of whom earn just under or over £10 an hour. The union is citing the example of the devolved Welsh Government’s decision to award carers a £500 bonus, retailers like Tesco who have increased the basic rate of pay by 10% for their staff, and the decision of the French Government to award health workers a €1,500 bonus - in addition to a further €8 billion worth of additional funding for future pay increases. GMB Scotland Senior Organiser for Public Services Drew Duffy said: “The frontline response to the coronavirus crisis across the public sector has been largely delivered on the backs of the lowest paid – cleaners, carers, porters, refuse workers and school support staff.ze: When the rest of the country went into lockdown they kept our hospitals clean, lifted our rubbish, looked after the kids of our other key workers in hub schools across Scotland, and they continue to face the crisis within a crisis that is social care.”
Billionaire gives big
The ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has donated £1.32 billion to charity in the last year, to help good causes cope with the pandemic. Mackenzie Scott, who was previously known as MacKenzie Bezos, pledged to donate the majority of her fortune after splitting from the world's richest man last year. fter signing up to the Giving Pledge, started by Bill and Melinda Gates, the 50-year-old gave millions each to anti-racism, LGBTQ rights, public health and climate change charities, she wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. Scott, who is worth at least £46.4bn ($60bn) also revealed she has changed her surname - from her married name to her middle name. She wrote: "Like many, I watched the first half of 2020 with a mixture of heartbreak and horror. I began work to complete my pledge with the belief that my life had yielded two assets that could be of particular value to others: the money these systems helped deliver to me, and a conviction that people who have experience with inequities are the ones best equipped to design solutions."