benefit to help people on low incomes pay for the costs of a funeral will be
available from next week, the Scottish Government has announced. The funeral
support payment launches on 16 September and has three elements: burial or
cremation costs; a flat rate £700 toward expenses including funeral director
fees, coffin and flowers; and some transport costs. It will be available for
recipients of universal credit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s
allowance, pension credit, housing benefit, child tax credit and disability or
severe disability elements of the working tax credit.
A major United Nations climate change summit will take place in Glasgow.Up to 30,000
delegates are expected to attend the event at Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus
(SEC) at the end of next year. Glasgow will host the
main COP summit while Italy will host preparatory events and a significant
youth event, as part of the agreement. The conference has been
described as the most important
gathering on climate change since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015. Lasting for two weeks, it would be the largest summit the UK has ever hosted,
with up to 200 world leaders expected to attend for the final weekend. 2020’s conference is seen as a major crossroads in the
battle against global climate change. It will likely be held just after the
next US presidential election.
This trend suggests improved treatment
of what can be difficult and complex conditions against a background of
increased demand as, for example, opioid painkiller addiction soars. From the
In 2018/2019 there were 47,790 mental health
discharges, an increase of 3% from 2017/2018 and the highest number of
discharges since 1997/1998.
In 2018/2019, the most common diagnosis for
mental health discharges was mental & behavioural disorders due to
psychoactive substance (including prescription painkillers and anxiety
In 2018/2019 most mental health inpatients
were treated within the NHS Board area in which they lived with approximately
5% treated elsewhere.
Once more Reporting Scotland return to one of their favourite themes – child poverty – but contrary to their own editorial guidelines rely on one source and offer no contextual data to help viewers make sense of it. To make sure that what they offer is more than poverty porn and for the piece to be comprehensive, balanced and fair, would have been mention of these major initiatives, unique to Scotland and designed to moderate the effects of Westminster austerity:
People in crisis made more than 165,000 successful applications to the Scottish Welfare Fund in the last financial year, according to new statistics. The Fund paid out £35 million, including £10.4 million in Crisis Grants to people in financial emergency, such as those struggling on low incomes or benefits – a 14% increase on 2017-18. The money helped people with essentials such as food, heating costs and household items. A further £24.8 million in Community Care Grants helped those facing extreme financial pressures with one-off costs for purchases including beds, washing machines and cookers. The Scottish Welfare Fund is part of an annual package of over £125 million to mitigate against the impact of UK Government welfare cuts. Since its launch in April 2013, the Fund has paid out more than £200 million to support over 336,000 households, with a third of recipients being families with children.
Finally, we heard nothing of those Westminster austerity policies which have created these problems in the first place and which the SNP Government fights to compensate.
While it might be too much to expect greater detail in a bulletin, perhaps a fuller report could cover some of this?
Though today’s report from End Child Poverty shows that Glasgow does have one of the ‘top’ parliamentary constituencies for child poverty, before taking account of housing costs, Scotland has no entries at all when housing costs, as they would be in actuality, are considered:
Why is the situation regarding child poverty a bit better here?
In 2018, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation had this to say about the Scottish Government’s intentions to reduce child poverty:
‘The Scottish Government’s commitment to building a social security system that has dignity and respect at its core and offering routes into employment for those currently excluded from the labour market, could change the family incomes and prospects of thousands of children for the better.’
Differences with non-Scottish Parts 1: Less vulnerable to benefits cuts
‘The IFS found that low-income families in Scotland currently have a higher proportion of their income coming from earnings than low-income families in some (but not all) parts of the UK, so have a lower proportion of income that is vulnerable to benefit cuts compared with some of the hardest-hit regions of the UK.’ (Hood and Waters,2017). 2
Differences with non-Scottish Parts 2: Fewer large families
‘In addition, one key change to UK benefit policy – the two-child limit on tax credits and Universal Credit– will particularly hit families with three or more children born after 6 April 2017. The IFS analysis found that Scotland has proportionally fewer families with three or more children than elsewhere in the UK, and around half the proportions found in Northern Ireland and the West Midlands.’ (Hood and Waters, 2017). 3
Differences with non-Scottish Parts 3 and 4: Higher increases in median income and less relative poverty
Note: The predicted dramatic increases above neglect impact of further welfare devolution to SNP Government:
‘Many of the key drivers of changes in poverty have been felt UK-wide. However, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has supported some research that showed a clear rise in Scottish median incomes relative to the rest of the UK from around 2003/04 and a relatively bigger improvement in the relative poverty rate from 2004/05.’ (Bailey, 2014).
Persistent poverty refers to children who have been living in relative poverty in three out of the last four years – a measure of the number of children who have been in poverty for a prolonged period of time.
Differences with non-Scottish Parts 5 and 6: Stronger decreases in poverty rates and increases in employment
‘The research identified strong decreases in poverty rates for the working-age population compared with the rest of the UK, alongside improving employment rates, especially for families without children. Over the period from 2000/04 to 2008/12, Scotland saw a bigger reduction in out-of-work families compared with the rest of the UK and similar growth as the rest of the UK in ‘intermediate work intensity’ (‘partly working’ families). 8
Differences with non-Scottish Parts 7 and 8: Affordable rents and mortgage costs
‘The analysis also pointed to more affordable rent and mortgage costs relative to income than in England, with social rents being 20–25% lower in Scotland by 2012/13. As a result, poverty after housing costs, compared with before housing costs, rose by a smaller amount than in England.’ 8
SNP Government Initiatives
‘In the coming months, the Scottish Government will launch two strategies that could make a crucial difference for our society. The first is an action plan on halving the disability employment gap, and the second is an action plan on the gender pay gap that is due to be published by the end of the year. This could be transformational for tackling poverty.’ 9
TODAY, we hear of the ongoing commitment of the SNP government, despite the Westminster constraints, to go beyond words and to act:
‘Vulnerable families are set to benefit from new funding to support households in financial hardship. Seven projects aimed at tackling child poverty will receive a total of £450,000. The money is a part of the ‘Every Child, Every Chance’ Innovation Fund, which is jointly supported by the Scottish Government and The Hunter Foundation. The fund aims to support innovative approaches which could have an impact on reducing child poverty by 2030. The projects range from job training and a befriending service, to school-based mentoring and support for lone parents. One of the successful projects is Stepwell, a social business based in Inverclyde, which provides support to people in the local community with health and finance issues as well as training and employment opportunities.’
The North Sea is producing more commercial innovations
than any other part of the world, according to a boss at Baker Hughes GE (BHGE). Romain
Chambault, European director for oilfield equipment, said he has been impressed
with the level of resilience the region has shown in the wake of the downturn. He
added that the type of innovation has gone beyond technical,
with new ways of working with partners.
it’s been some time since we last reported on this topic, see these earlier
indicators of benefits beyond the simple extraction of oil and gas:
Asthma patients are putting their lives at risk by skipping
medication due to the cost, nurses have reported. The trend, revealed in
an Asthma UK survey of 636 nurses
in England, has
prompted the RCN to call for prescription costs for asthma medication to be
scrapped, as they have been for diabetes medication. In the survey, 58% of nurses said they had seen patients
have an asthma attack or require emergency care as a result of not
taking medication because they were unable to afford it.
Once more the contrast with
Scotland is stark:
Asthma deaths are soaring in
England and Wales but beginning to fall in Scotland. Clearly prescription costs
will play a part but there seems to be another factor – a lack of basic checks in
treatment plans including regular tests:
NHS bosses have apologised for justifying denying
single women IVF treatment by saying they would be a burden to society and
“unable to bring out the best outcomes for the child”:
NHS South East London has said sorry for the “offence and distress”
it caused, which prompted 175 single mothers to complain about its “misguided and
offensive” language. Guidance explaining the policy was based on a document it
had put together that stated: “Single mothers are generally poorer; they are likely
to have greater support needs compared to two-parent couples, thereby placing a
greater burden on society in general. Aristotle’s principle of equality says
treat equals equally, so a couple compared to a couple is equal. A woman or man compared to a couple is not
equal, and by attempting to think of them as such has no ground or support.” It
added: “A sole woman is unable to bring out the best outcomes for the child.”
Once more there is a different
approach in Scotland. An IVF service which has been 100% successful for 5 years
in a row will have had immeasurable benefits reducing both the human and
financial costs of infertility. More on this below.
From ISD 30 May
During the quarter ending March
The four IVF centres in Scotland screened 366 eligible patients, compared with 385 in the previous quarter.
In all four centres, 100% of patients were screened for IVF treatment within 365 days, 75.7% of which were screened within 182 days.
The 90% standard continues to be met since it was first measured in March 2015.
Why does this matter so much? See
Reducing associated mental health complications
Failing to treat infertility can
result in problems and further costs for the NHS in other areas. A Danish study
of 98 737 women, between 1973 and 2003, showed that women who were unable to
have children were 47% more likely to be hospitalised for schizophrenia and had
a significantly higher risk of subsequent drug and alcohol abuse.
A warning for Scotland’s 100% IVF post-Brexit: How moneygrubbing
Tory IVF policies are creating massive distress now in England
How IVF became a licence to print money.
we tumble toward a hard Brexit and trade deals with the USA allowing the
private sector into the heart of the NHS, we can see how things will work out
in the already privatised IVF service in England and contrast it with the
state-controlled and regulated version, in Scotland. See this from the Guardian:
‘Private fertility clinics routinely try to sell desperate
patients add-ons that almost certainly don’t help – why isn’t more done to
monitor the industry? Around three-quarters of all IVF cycles fail. And results
vary with age. Figures from the Human Fertilisation and
Embryology Authority (HFEA) published in March state the average live
birth-rate for each fresh embryo transferred for women of all ages is 21%; for
those aged under 35, it is 29% – the highest it has ever been. For older women,
the picture is bleaker: 10% for women aged 40-42, for example. IVF is expensive.
And what makes it worse, says Hugh Risebrow, the report’s author, is the lack
of pricing transparency. “The headline prices quoted may be, say, £3,500, but
you end up with a bill of £7,000,” he says. “This is because there are things
not included that you need – and then things that are offered but are not
In Tory-run NHS England, only 12% of
boards offer three full cycles in line with official guidance. 61% offer only
one cycle of treatment and 4% offer none at all. Private treatment costs
between £1 343 and £5 788 per cycle.
Perhaps reinforcing the impression
that the protestors on the streets of Glasgow in the last few days were not too
representative of wider opinion, an opinion poll from Deltapoll, with more than
2 000 respondents on 5th to 7th September, showed quite strong
support for the notion of a United Ireland:
Indeed, only in Wales (Why?) did there
seem to be a majority against it:
As for being prepared to vote
tactically for a party supporting your preferred Brexit outcome, leave or
remain, nearly three times as many said Yes as said No:
While the majority for such action was
notably smaller in Scotland (and London)than elsewhere, it surely remains a
factor that the SNP planners need to keep in mind:
patients had been given the lower doses to help them cope with frankly
Scotland have not returned to the story to apologise for their initial
reporting. On April 2nd, they said:
‘The report today pointed to the possibility
of a dysfunctional department. ‘Detectives’ spoke
of pharmacy and nursing staff who said they had concerns about the change of
procedures, but they felt they were not being listened to and that their
position was one above.’
Reporting Scotland used the word ‘dysfunctional’. The BBC
website and all the papers I looked at (8) did not use the term either. Why?
reported at length on this disgraceful episode:
Why did we not see this man at the beginning of this dark and confused
saga? After weeks of confused and agenda-driven poking around in the, too
complex for them, matters of cancer treatment, Reporting Scotland have
apparently stumbled upon…
‘Oncologists under investigation for giving lower dosages of
chemotherapy to 300 breast cancer patients refute claims they were wrong to do
so. That’s according to a senior clinician at NHS Tayside. Last month doctors
at NHS Tayside were ordered to…
Should read: ‘after BBC attack’ In fact, the department looks
‘average’ and by no means ‘dysfunctional’. See the statistics below. On the
evening of April 1st, Reporting Scotland said of NHS Tayside’s Oncology
Department at Ninewells in Dundee: ‘The report…
On Reporting Scotland last night, from Jackie Bird: ‘A health
watchdog has criticised NHS Tayside after breast cancer patients were given
lower doses of chemotherapy than patients in other parts of Scotland.
Healthcare improvement Scotland say patients should have been…
After 3 failed attempts to persuade the Scottish Government to adopt 3 failed Westminster policy initiatives and, thus, demonstrate the strength of the Union (link below), Stephanie Jones-Berry has undone all their good work. In the Nursing Standard today:
Implementing safe staffing ratios would solve
the workforce crisis in England, according to an expert in the field. Linda Aiken, a
specialist in nurse safe staffing research, roused nurses into rapturous
applause on the issue at the RCN International Nursing Research Conference,
held in Sheffield this week.Dr Aiken, a University of Pennsylvania
professor of nursing and an RCN honorary fellow, said workforce shortages
should not be used as an excuse for inaction. Dr Aiken also said NHS employers could pay back
newly-qualified nurses’ student loans if they guaranteed to remain with the
organisation for a set period.
Dr Aiken has a Scottish-sounding name. Does she keep in touch with developments
in NHS Scotland? See this from 2nd May:
Legislation to support staffing across health and
social care services has been passed by the Scottish Parliament. The Health and
Care (Staffing) Bill is the first
comprehensive multi-disciplinary workload and workforce planning legislation in
the UK…..Speaking after the vote, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:
“This is an important Bill that will promote safe staffing across our NHS and social care services and, in doing
so, improve patient experience.