Wishart: Get "boots on the ground" to tackle mental health crisis in schools

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP has called for “boots on the ground” to tackle the impending mental health crisis within schools.

Following questioning from Ms Wishart in the Scottish Parliament’s Education Committee, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said that there will be “an increasing number of children who have been severely traumatised” as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

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Wishart: Prospect of job losses at Moorfield “a devastating blow”

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has today called the prospect of job losses at the Moorfield Hotel a “devastating blow”, having raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions.

On Tuesday (2nd June) it was announced that almost 50 jobs were at risk at the Moorfield Hotel following Total’s decision to move worker accommodation to the Sella Ness block. A staff redundancy consultation process has begun.

Legal proceedings are also underway in response to a Scottish Government reporter’s ruling to overturn a Shetland Island Council decision to turn down planning permission for the Sella Ness facility to remain open.

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Wishart presses for update on Island coronavirus testing capacity

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has today (Thursday) sought an update on testing capacity in Scotland’s Islands as the Test and Protect strategy is rolled out across health boards.

During virtual Health questions, Ms Wishart noted that demand for tests will rise significantly with the move to the Test and Protect and strategy. Ms Wishart asked Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, for an update on how local capacity will be increased to meet this demand and given the hurdles to accessing testing in island communities.

The Health Secretary said that an agreement had been reached to use “satellite sites” in the Islands and to ensure that the necessary chemicals and testing kits are available on site. Ms Freeman committed to providing an update to MSPs.

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Northern Isles MSPs seek assurances on island rollout of test and protect

Northern Isles MSPs, Beatrice Wishart and Liam McArthur, have asked the Scottish Government to address the “unique hurdles” that islands communities will face as demand for testing expends with the government’s ‘Test and Protect’ rollout.

The Scottish Government’s contact tracing system will be rolled out nationally later this week. Where confirmed cases of covid-19 are identified, this system will trace contacts so that all those thought to be at risk can self-isolate in order to suppress the spread of the virus.

During her statement yesterday (Tuesday), the First Minister said that tests would be available: “at one of the drive through testing centres or mobile testing units. For some, there will also be the option of a home testing kit.

She also noted that “We will also continue to build testing capacity and make access to testing more locally accessible.”

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22 May: Covid-19 Update

National Updates


 The First Minister has announced a four phase route map for the easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions. You can read the document here.

Current advice remains unchanged but we will move to Phase 1 of the route map on 28th May if the virus continues to be suppressed. Progress will continue to be assessed every three weeks.

Some of the key phase 1 provisions include:

  • You will be able to meet people from one other household, though initially in small numbers, and at 2 meters distance while you are outside.
  • You will be able to sit or sunbathe in parks and open areas.
  • Some non-contact outdoor leisure activities will be allowed to restart - such as golf, tennis, bowls and fishing - subject to appropriate hygiene and physical distancing.
  • People will be able to travel – preferably by walking or cycling - to a location near their local community for recreation.
  • Non urgent NHS treatment and surgery will gradually restart.

The First Minister also announced that schools are expected to open on 11 August with pupils learning part time in classrooms and at home. Teachers and school staff will return in June to prepare classrooms.

The advice for those who are shielding isn’t changing yet and the government will issue new guidance before 18 June.

More details on expected measures in different sectors are to come.

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Wishart urges HIAL to halt air traffic control centralisation

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has written to HIAL and Ministers to urge the company to halt plans to centralise air traffic control, after a tender for the works was issued before an island impact assessment has been completed.

Ms Wishart wrote in the letter that issuing a tender for the remote towers project before an island impact assessment has been completed “makes a mockery of island proofing” and noted that Ministers and HIAL should reassess the case for the project in light of the impact of coronavirus on the aviation industry. Ms Wishart also highlighted that there has been opposition to the move in all three island local authorities.

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Wishart asks for update on pause to cervical screening programme

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick has confirmed that the Scottish Government is “actively” looking at re-starting cervical screening and other paused programmes following a question from Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart.

 During virtual health questions, Ms Wishart noted that cervical screening often picks up on cell changes that need treatment before any symptoms show and that the pause to the programme is causing real worry to some women who have had their appointments cancelled. Ms Wishart asked what consideration has been given to re-starting the screening programme since it was paused on 30 March.

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Wishart: Tourism industry needs 12-month support plan

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has called for the UK and Scottish Governments to agree a 12-month support plan for tourism and hospitality to help the industries survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

At a meeting of Holyrood’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee, Ms Wishart noted that tourism businesses might survive an average of 3 months without support and asked Tourism Secretary, Fergus Ewing, whether thought has been given with the UK Government to introducing a 12 month support package to tide the tourism and hospitality sector over to the next season.

In response, the Cabinet Secretary acknowledged that problems affecting the industry won’t be over in 3 months’ time or perhaps 12 months’ time but that the specific idea of a 12 month fund hadn’t been considered yet.

Liberal Democrats at Westminster have tabled a motion demanding a 12 month financial support package for the tourism and hospitality industry.

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14 May: COVID-19 Update

National Updates


The changes set out by the Prime Minister during his statement this week only apply to those living in England. Since health is a devolved matter, the Scottish Government continues to set the rules for lockdown across Scotland.

The First Minister announced yesterday that the only change to guidelines in Scotland is to allow people to go outside for exercise more than once a day. That exercise must still be close to home and should not be with anyone from another household.

National Digital Wellbeing Hub

A new national digital wellbeing hub has been launched today. It will help enable health and social care workers and carers to look after their physical and mental health.

It is specifically tailored to support the challenges being faced by everyone in health and social care, the hub will provide advice on self-care and personal resilience to help users to recognise their own ‘warning signs’. Information about services and resources available at national and local level within NHS Boards, Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) and local authorities will also be available. 

You can access the Hub here.

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Wishart: businesses still missing out on support

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has written to Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, to ask for local flexibility for coronavirus business support to help island businesses still missing out on funding.

In her correspondence, Ms Wishart highlights funding being made available to local authorities in England and suggests that a similar model could be introduced in Scotland. Up to £617m is being made available for English local authorities. The funding is aimed at small businesses with fixed property costs but “allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.”


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