PAISLEY’S MSP: HOW ARE WE SUPPORTING THOSE UNABLE TO BE WITH RELATIVES RECEIVING END OF LIFE CARE

During Vitual Question Time on Thursday, George Adam, SNP MSP for Paisley, asked the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport how the Scottish Government is continuing to monitor advice for those receiving palliative and end of life care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to his question, Jeane Freeman confirmed that the Scottish Government is continually in communication with care homes, hospices and services providing end of life care to ensure both residents and families are treated with dignity and respect despite the difficult circumstances posed by the virus.

Ms Freeman reiterated that she will remain in active contact with the hospice network across Scotland to ensure that any additional clarification on the guidance is available when necessary, and will continue to ensure that institutions are supported in their implementation of visiting policies for those receiving palliative care safely and compassionately.

Since the beginning of the lockdown, institutions across Scotland have implemented a range of measures to protect the health, safety and well-being of residents and their families in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus and limit transmission between parties.

George Adam said:

“Since becoming Paisley’s MSP, I have always made palliative care and end of life choices a priority of mine as I feel passionately about ensuring both hospice residents and their families are treated with the upmost compassion and dignity at the most difficult time in their lives.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has left many residents and families understandably confused and anxious about what the new social distancing and lockdown measures mean for them, so it was important to me that I raised this question during Virtual Question Time and put it at the front of the agenda.

“I know the Health Secretary is going above and beyond right now to make sure care homes, hospices, and all health service providers are kept up to date with the most accurate guidance and are continually supported to ensure they can implement said guidance as safely and efficiently as possible.

“I can’t imagine the hardship faced by many across Scotland who are currently separated from their loved ones or facing uncertainly surrounding visiting policies or access to family members receiving palliative care. I want you to know that I am thinking of you right now and will continue to work with my colleagues to make sure you have as much support as possible during these difficult times.”

2,680 CARERS IN RENFREWSHIRE DUE TO RECEIVE EXTRA PAYMENT

Paisley’s MSP praises the vital work done by carers across Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic and asked what is being done to support unpaid careers during First Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

As an unpaid carer himself, George Adam was delighted with the response to his question and the announcement that thousands across his local area are due to benefit from a one-off payment during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scottish Government has revealed plans to invest £19.2million to provide further support to Scottish carers during the Covid-19 crisis.

If approved by parliament, around 83,000 eligible carers across Scotland will get an extra £230.10 through a special one-off Coronavirus Carer’s Allowance Supplement in June – with around 2,680 people in Renfrewshire to benefit from this additional financial support. 

The extra payment will be paid automatically to people in receipt of Carer’s Allowance.

George Adam said: 

“Carers in Paisley make an absolutely invaluable contribution to our society, and it’s only appropriate that their hard work is valued and they are properly supported by the Scottish Government.

“This one-off payment will benefit carers who are on low incomes and already have some of the most intense caring roles, providing at least 35 hours unpaid care weekly to a disabled child or adult in receipt of higher level disability benefits.

“This additional payment will be an acknowledgement to carers that we know they are providing vital support to family, friends and neighbours, and playing an absolutely crucial role in our collective efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus. “I am delighted that carers right here in our town are being recognised by the SNP Government for the important contribution they make to our communities in these extremely difficult circumstances.”

PUBLIC IN PAISLEY TO HAVE THEIR SAY ON LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS

Paisley’s MSP George Adam has urged the public to have their say as the Scottish Government publishes an update on what life might look like when coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are altered. 

COVID-19: A Framework for Decision Making says the current lockdown is pushing the number of infectious cases down, but concludes that the virus continues to pose a serious threat to public health in Scotland.

George Adam has also encouraged constituents in Paisley to read the Scottish Government’s “Test, Trace, Isolate, Support” paper, published yesterday, which will be a “key aspect” of the next phase of the battle against Coronavirus. 

The testing and tracing strategy will work alongside other virus suppression measures, including physical distancing, hand washing and the use of face coverings. Thousands of contact tracing staff are also to be taken on, and new digital tools including an app are being developed.

Paisley’s MSP said:

“The decisions on how we come out of lockdown will affect all of us – and so it’s important that these decisions are made as openly and collaboratively as possible, with councils, businesses, unions, public services and community groups in our town all contributing and forming part of the discussion.

“The Scottish Government has today launched an online forum that gives people the opportunity to offer their reflections on lockdown restrictions – and I’d urge everyone to share any ideas they have on how we should move forward.

“There are no easy answers – but it is right for the Scottish Government to keep people up-to-date and be clear about the factors that inform decision making. All we can do is encourage everyone to continue reading the official guidance and information published, and act with the wider health of the community in mind.

“For now, the advice for all of us here in Paisley remains the same as it’s been proven that staying at home and only making essential journeys is saving lives. Keeping physical distance if you do have to be around people and continuing to regularly wash your hands is still the best way to reduce your risk of infection. “Everyone in our community has a part to play in combatting this virus, and while I understand that these measures are difficult for all of us, they are saving lives and protecting our NHS.”

1,498 RENFREWSHIRE BUSINESSES GET £17.23 MILLION CASH SUPPORT THROUGH COVID-19 CRISIS

Paisley’s MSP has welcomed new figures showing that 1,498 businesses in Renfrewshire have received Scottish Government grants to support firms through the coronavirus crisis.

A total of £17.23 million has been awarded throughout the local community by a Scottish Government scheme to support small businesses and the retail, hospitality and leisure sector.

This grant support is worth over £1 billion to business, and is part of the wider business support package worth £2.3 billion. To date over 45,000 awards have been made so far, providing over £526 million to eligible businesses across Scotland.

So that funding can be distributed as quickly as possible, eligibility for the grant scheme is linked to the non-domestic rates system.

Commenting, Paisley’s MSP, George Adam said:

“This is undeniably a very difficult time for businesses so I am very pleased to see such extensive support already distributed throughout Renfrewshire.

“This Scottish Government funding is designed to support firms and ensure that our economy is on the best possible footing when we get through this health crisis.

“Our support for business is now worth £2.3 billion, which is more than we have received from the UK Government and actively works to fill the gaps in the UK schemes with tailored support for the Scottish economy.

“I encourage all businesses in Paisley to ensure they are receiving the support they’re entitled to.”

A £10,000 grant is available to non-domestic ratepayers with properties in receipt of:

  • Small Business Bonus Scheme relief (SBSS) or Rural Relief
  • Nursery Relief, Disabled Relief, Business Growth Accelerator, Discretionary Sports Relief, Enterprise Areas Relief or Fresh Start but eligible for SBSS

A £25,000 grant is available to the ratepayers of properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with property with a rateable value between £18,001 and £51,000.

£8.2 MILLION FUNDING PACKAGE ENSURES GPS AND PHARMACIES WILL REMAIN OPEN DURING MAY BANK HOLIDAY

Paisley’s MSP asked the Health Secretary what support is being made available for constituents who need access to primary care services during the upcoming bank holiday, and what advice she can give to those who are concerned during these unprecedented times.

George Adam raised this issue in the chamber in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday and is very pleased to see a further funding package being made available to help those in need when services would normally be closed.

Funded by £8.2 million from the Scottish Government, GP services and community pharmacies have been asked to remain open on the May public holidays, with NHS 24 operating with an increased number of call handlers.

In response to George’s question, Jeane Freeman, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, said:

“Health and social care staff are already working incredibly hard to look after people during this pandemic, and I want to thank each and every one of them for their ongoing commitment and dedication during this unprecedented time.

“Last month we asked GP services to remain open during the Easter holidays and once again, we have asked them to do the same for the May public holidays.

“Community pharmacies will also be open so they can continue to provide advice and treatment through the extended Minor Ailment Service for minor illnesses and common conditions. We have also taken steps to ensure NHS 24 can continue to meet the increase in demand.”

Praising this announcement, Paisley’s MSP said:

“Once again, the Scottish Government are stepping up to the plate to ensure our constituents are as supported as possible while the lockdown continues, and have access to all the necessary primary care services they may need during these extraordinary times.

“I think I can speak for all of my colleagues when I say that Jeane Freeman is an excellent example of what the SNP in government are capable of, as she continues to handle this public health crisis with steadfast commitment and sincere dedication to the people of Scotland and those in our incredible health care sector.

“As I’ve said before, and I’m sure I’ll say again, it is during times of difficulty that a community can truly come together and that is certainly what is happening here in our town and indeed across Scotland.

“From the weekly clap for carers and NHS staff, to the wonderful work of volunteers and the genuine acts of kindness happening across the country right now; I am very hopeful that we will come out of this pandemic with a stronger sense of community and a continued willingness to check in and help our neighbours whenever we can.”

While the lockdown continues, it is important for patients to know that the NHS is open and prepared for non-COVID-19 related health concerns, and that GPs should remain the first point of contact if anyone has any worries or issues. 

Continued up to date health advice can be found at NHS Inform.

GEORGE ADAM: WE MUST PREPARE FOR “NEW NORMAL” AS PLAN TO EASE LOCKDOWN PUBLISHED

Paisley’s MSP George Adam has said that the public must prepare for restrictions on normal life to continue for some time.

The comments come as the Scottish Government published a new document outlining how decisions will be taken to control coronavirus (COVID-19) while restoring a degree of normality to everyday life.

The paper – COVID-19: A Framework for Decision-Making – sets out the position during this ongoing period of lockdown and outlines the factors that must be considered as we move gradually to ease restrictions.

It also recognises that new ways of living – effectively a “new normal” – may have to be in place for some time to come.

George said:

“It is welcome that the Scottish Government has published an outline of how and when the lockdown may be lifted and I urge everyone to take the time to read the document.

“It is vital that any decision to ease restrictions is based on the best scientific advice possible – but we are in uncharted territory and we must be prepared to adapt. That might mean having to reapply restrictions after they are lifted.

“It is only when we are sure the virus is under control that we can even start to ease any of the restrictions because the virus will not have gone away. There are no easy answers – but it is right for the Scottish Government to be clear about the factors that will inform decision making.

“In the coming days and weeks members of the public will be invited to contribute their thoughts and views on the next steps we must make together as unfortunately, returning to what we regard as a normal life will not be possible in the near future – we need to prepare for a new normal until treatments and a vaccine offer different solutions.

“While these measures are difficult for all of us, they are saving lives and protecting our NHS.”

PAISLEY’S MSP CALLS FOR BREXIT EXTENSION TO AVOID FURTHER ECONOMIC HARM

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP has called on the UK government to extend the Brexit negotiation deadline to avoid a further big economic hit on top of the coronavirus crisis, and to ensure that every effort is put towards tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The UK has formally left the European Union but is currently in a “transition period.” This means it is following EU rules and therefore has full access to the European market – which will be vital for the economy when the coronavirus crisis eases.

A two-year extension to this transition period is on offer but the Tory government at Westminster is instead pressing on with complex negotiations, at the height of the crisis, which will mean the UK leaving with either no trade deal in place or a very limited deal at the end of this year.    

According to a report by the Chief Economist, the economic impact of the efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic could see GDP fall by around a third.

If the UK government continues to pursue its Brexit plans, Scotland’s economy faces further economic damage – a loss, compared with EU membership, of up to £12.7 billion – the equivalent of £2,300 for every person in Scotland by 2030. 

George Adam said: 

“For the Tory government to pursue its plans to impose a hard Brexit on the country, while we are facing a global health emergency, is reckless in the extreme.

“Paisley voted to remain in the EU – just like every local authority in Scotland – and it’s clear that businesses here simply do not have the capacity to prepare for Brexit when they are fighting to survive the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

“People and businesses in our town will be understandably concerned about this, so it’s imperative that the UK government does the responsible thing and requests an extension to the transition period to avoid even more economic and social damage. 

“There is still time for the UK government to change course, listen to the public, and ensure that every effort is put to tackling the Coronavirus pandemic.”

GEORGE ADAM WELCOMES FOOD FUNDING FOR PAISLEY FAMILIES

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has welcomed confirmation that Paisley families unable to access food due to coronavirus will get support from the Scottish Government.

Local authorities are sharing £30 million of new investment from the Scottish Government Food Fund to support those struggling.

Renfrewshire Council have been allocated £1.063 million from the fund, which is one part of the £350 million Communities Fund.

This funding will support those most in need including families with children who are eligible for free school meals, older people, those with long-term health conditions, and pregnant women.

Councils will have the flexibility to use this additional resource in ways that best meet emerging local needs and circumstances, working with community groups and businesses to support home delivery, provide financial help and meet dietary requirements.

Commenting, George Adam, said:

“Coronavirus has brought enormous disruption to all of our lives, and some people will be concerned about accessing food. This is a distressing enough time with families and friends separated and unable to visit loved ones without having to worry about food or where their next meal is coming from.

“This investment will help those in Paisley who are most at risk – such as older people and children eligible for free school meals – to access food through this unprecedented crisis. I hope this will go a long way in helping to ease one worry many families will have right now.

“Free school meals are vital for families across Paisley and are an important way of ensuring children receive the nutritious food they need. That is why it is so important that support continues while schools remain closed. 

“This is just one part of the support the Scottish Government is providing to individuals and businesses to protect jobs and incomes which we continue to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The £350 million Communities Fund was announced by Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell on 18 March 2020.

Since it was announced, over £100 million of new support has been delivered to local authorities to assist their efforts. This includes £50 million in hardship funding, £22 million to bolster the Scottish Welfare Fund and £30 million from the Food Fund.

The guidance shared with local authorities outlines seven key principles to support local thinking about how funding can best be targeted and deployed. People worried about food during the COVID-19 crisis should therefore contact their local authority for further information on the help and support available to them.

PAISLEY’S MSP HAILS POWER OF “COMMUNITY SPIRIT” IN HELPING THOSE IN NEED AS LOCAL SERVICES BEGIN DELIVERIES FOR VULNERABLE RESIDENTS IN PAISLEY

People in Paisley at highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus will begin to receive home deliveries of essential groceries as of Friday, 3rd April.

Letters from the Scottish Government have been issued this week to those who are at greatest risk from the virus, to offer guidance on shielding from infection and information about the support available, which includes access to home deliveries through a text message service.

Locals who have already signed up to the service have been texted with the option of starting their weekly deliveries of essential food items including soup, pasta, rice, fruit, vegetables, tea, coffee and biscuits, as well as toiletries such as shower gel and toilet roll.

Those in the high risk group who have received a letter but do not have access to a mobile phone will be able to register for deliveries through Renfrewshire Council’s main switchboard number – 0300 300 0300, Monday to Friday, between 8.45am and 4.45pm.

Commenting, Paisley’s MSP, George Adam said:

“This is the greatest test we’ve faced in a lifetime and this scheme will ensure those most at risk from coronavirus get the support they need.

“The community spirit shown here in Paisley over the last few weeks has been absolutely amazing with friends, family and neighbours going that extra mile to look out for one another. I didn’t expect anything less from Paisley buddies but it is wonderful to experience the sense of togetherness that’s abundant even though we’re apart.

“It is hugely important however that everyone who receives a letter, and requires this support, signs up to this service immediately to make sure they are fully stocked with essential items.

“We have to prioritise those most in need, and by continuing to work together we can ensure everyone here in our community remains safe. I know this is an incredibly difficult time for everyone, but I also know that the Paisley’s spirit will only get stronger as this lockdown continues and we will all come out of this more resilient than before.”

The grocery delivery service will be led by Brakes and Bidfood with the first deliveries expected on 3 April.

The six categories of risk – as agreed by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers – are:

1. Solid organ transplant recipients

2. People with specific cancers:

a. People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer

b. People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment

c. People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer

d. People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors

e. People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs

3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD

4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)

5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection

6. People who are pregnant with significant congenital heart disease

Further information can be found here: https://news.gov.scot/news/deliveries-for-high-risk-groups

PAISLEY’S MSP URGES PEOPLE TO ‘STAY LOCAL’ WHEN EXERCISING

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has urged constituents to ‘stay local’ when exercising and walking dogs, and avoid any unnecessary travel that could help spread coronavirus.

Official advice from the Scottish and UK governments warns that people should not be driving somewhere with the intent of doing exercise or walking their dog – with new powers granted to police to enforce these regulations.

To protect yourself and others from illness and save lives, people in Paisley should also avoid driving to well-known local gathering places such as the Gleniffer Braes and other beauty spots across Renfrewshire.

George Adam said: 

“Of course exercise is extremely important for peoples’ physical and mental wellbeing, so it’s important to note that people in Paisley can leave their homes for exercise once a day, with members of their own household.

“However, you should only be outside for a reasonable purpose – buying food or essential household or medical supplies; travelling to or carrying out essential work; exercising once a day; or providing care or assistance to others.

“People in Paisley should make use of gardens – if they can – and stay local when exercising or walking dogs, to ensure that we stop the spread of coronavirus. 

“This is about saving lives and protecting our NHS. We all recognise how unusual these regulations are and the Scottish Government will act to remove these restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so, but in the meantime we must all continue to do our bit and stay home as much as possible.

“I know how isolating and difficult this must be for everyone, but staying home is a very small ask compared to the lifesaving work all of our frontline staff and key workers are doing to make sure we survive this outbreak.” 

Please use the following guidance in order to stay safe:

  • stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible 
  • do not travel unnecessarily
  • you should only go outside alone or with members of your own household
  • keep at least 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household at all times
  • gatherings of more than two in parks or other public spaces have been banned and the police will enforce this
  • if you have a garden, make use of the space for exercise and fresh air
  • take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors