Covid testing, Redress Scotland and fishing data my eNews 12th December 2021

On Tuesday I responded to the First Minister’s weekly Covid-19 update. I raised the issues of Mental Health treatment times, nurse and midwife vacancies and the backlog of waiting lists, all issues exacerbated due to the Covid crisis. I referenced one constituent who is in constant pain and contacted me about a delayed operation. You can watch the clip here. The First Minister urged a following of Covid-19 restrictions to stem the transmission and reduce pressure on healthcare. While that is part of the picture there is more that the Scottish Government could do to help cut vacancies and waiting times. You can read more about Scottish Liberal Democrat proposals for new hope for health here.

Midweek there were reports of a family on a recent sailing to Shetland having tested positive for Covid. NorthLink ask that passengers take a rapid Lateral Flow Test (LFTs) 3 days before their journey and another LFT on the morning of passage. Joining a vessel or plane without having tested beforehand is inconsiderate. I am appalled by the reports of passengers who apparently travelled on board Northlink knowing they were Covid-positive. Not only does that risk the health of fellow passengers and crew members, it endangers our lifeline services and could prevent them from running. You can order rapid, LFTs online through the website or by calling 119. My website provides information on Shetland-specific Covid-19 support and information on restrictions.

On Friday, after a meeting with local fishermen, I held one of my regular advice surgeries. If you would like to meet with me to raise a matter you believe I can assist with you can contact me at:

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 01595 690 044

In Holyrood this week I attended the Cross Party Group (CPG) on WASPI, CPG Long Covid, and Art in Healthcare stall. During the CPG on Long Covid we heard of a survey which shows that many women have been impacted by Long Covid in comparison to men. This is likely to be down to the often more public-facing, and lower paid, roles that women have in our society. Scottish Liberal Democrat plans to address Long Covid can be found here. I am continuing to campaign for a new, modern hospital for Shetland. If you agree please sing my petition here.

This week the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment (RAINE) Committee heard the views of panellists on methods relating to finance, funding and the market in the context of the environment. It was very interesting to hear views on what might be necessary in order to tackle the climate emergency. While we can all do more individually to tackle climate change, such as buy local, big corporations need to face further sanctions and greater incentives to reduce carbon and polluting emissions. What should have greater consideration is securing net zero futures for island, rural and remote communities. Places like the Northern Isles rely on lifeline services and the Scottish Government should be investing more in projects such as low carbon ferries now.

The petition Alistair Carmichael and I launched calling on NorthLink to u-turn the decision to end the food and drink discount on sailings for islanders continues with over 2,600 signatures. You can add your name here. I wrote to the Transport Minister last week about this issue and await a response.

On Thursday I responded to the Deputy First Minister’s statement on Scotland’s Redress Scheme following the historic vote on 11th March 2021 when the Parliament unanimously passed the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Act 2021. This important piece of legislation went through the Education Committee earlier this year and I was pleased to have played a small part in that process, and to see the Redress Scheme open this week. Dignity, respect and compassion is at its heart. I asked the Deputy First Minister how Redress Scotland would ensure applicants were not re-traumatised, and how it would continue to make survivors aware of the scheme. You can watch my question here. You can find out more about the scheme here.

I also questioned the Scottish Government this week about the consultation process for offshore wind development West of Shetland. Shetland Fishermen’s Association raised the issue as the area is in rich fishing grounds. I asked that the Scottish Government commit to gathering and fully assessing data on all fishing activity from the area. I was pleased to have had a positive response from the Cabinet Secretary who stated she was willing to engage and listen to fishermen’s concerns directly. I will keep pressing the Scottish Government to ensure that it does listen to the fishing sector, as there are serious concerns in the fleet at the moment with flawed data and its impact on quota, gillnet fishing, Brexit and the impact of the climate emergency. You can watch my question here.

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