Tag Archives: Nicola Sturgeon

Sturgeon shares the book love in Book Week Scotland’s first virtual festival

Photo Above: Nicola Sturgeon © Kenneth Halley on Wikipedia

Nicola Sturgeon joined in with Book Week Scotland celebrations last night with a live Q&A on Twitter.

Users submitted their book-related questions to the First Minister using the hashtag #FMBookChat, who then spent an hour tweeting about her favourite books.

Continue reading Sturgeon shares the book love in Book Week Scotland’s first virtual festival

Toddlers to be given swine flu jab

There will be a focus on administering the swine flu jab to children under fives and personal careers following advice by the chief medical adviser.

The second phase of the H1N1 vaccination programme will see more than a quarter of a million Scottish children immunised and individuals considered a high risk to their patients.

Earlier this week a child died from the bug and man in the Lothian area died yesterday.

Yesterday health secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, guaranteed that priority persons would be vaccinated before Christmas.

In response to phase two of the programme, Ms Sturgeon said: “We anticipate this will happen during December, although completion of the vaccination of young children is not expected until mid January.”

Since April, 39 people in Scotland have died from the category five virus, 142 in England, 21 in Wales and 13 in Northern Ireland.

Many groups have opposed the anti-virus jab due to side effects it may cause.

Edinburgh Napier News spoke to two mothers in Leith today to find out their views.

Swine Flu Vaccinations Rolled Out

by Sian Lower

image courtesy of telegraph.co.uk
image courtesy of telegraph.co.uk

Following 2 more deaths this weekend in the UK due to Influenza A virus subtype H1N1 ( a.k.a ‘Swine Flu’ ),  the total number of deaths across Scotland is now 28 – and 108 in total across the UK, which brings relief to many that the vaccination programme has now begun.

There are 2 versions of the vaccine. The first is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, which will be given to the majority of patients in 1 shot. The second is manufactured by Baxter and unlike GSK, it is not made using chicken eggs and so is reserved for those with allergies and for children. Patients will be given this shot 2 times, 3 weeks apart.

Overall there have been 28 deaths due to swine flu in Scotland  and 500,000 people have been infected in the UK in total. As doctors predicted, this seems to be the second wave of the virus, just in time to coincide with local surgeries’ general flu vaccinations, which could pose a significant threat to an already over-stretched health service.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said, ” Vaccination is our best defence against this virus.I urge everyone who is offered the vaccine to accept it, in order to help minimise the impact of the virus.

The vaccination programme is on track. It will have a phased introduction as supplies become available from the manufacturers.

Patients in priority groups will be contacted by their GP when they have to attend for vaccination and we expect to have offered vaccination to all in the priority groups by the end of the year.”

 image courtesy of scrapetv.com
image courtesy of scrapetv.com

But who are the priority groups? According to the Department of Health, the priority list is as follows ; healthcare professionals, pregnant women, all children under 5, adults aged under 65 with a chronic illness, all young people under 18 and then all other patients, in that order.

This brings the total number of  people classed as a priority to 14 million – all of whom need to be treated by December if the Health Secretary’s goal is to be achieved.

Superbug levels squashed by half

by Grainne Byrne

Levels of MRSA and C. difficile in Scotland have dropped to record low levels since records began.   Latest figures from Health Protection Scotland show that levels of C.diff have contracted by 42% and figures for MRSA are down 25%.

Cabinet Secretary for Health, Nicola Sturgeon, said the reduction in infection levels are hopeful and show that efforts to eradicate superbugs are yielding positive results. 

Ms Sturgeon said: “I have made tackling hospital infections a top priority and I am encouraged that today’s figures show our strenuous efforts appear to be reaping rewards. 

The Health Secretary says that despite the promising figures in the first half of 2009, we must not rest on our laurels. 

“We are confident that we now have the right initiatives in place and the figures back this up. We are seeing significant and sustained reductions in infections which is good news for patients throughout Scotland. 

“However, there is no room for complacency. I want us to continue this excellent progress as we drive to eliminate all avoidable infections from our hospitals.”

In 2008, 18 patients at the Vale of Leven Hospital died as a result of a failure to tackle an outbreak of C.diff.  The total figure for deaths caused by C.diff in 2008 was 711, with 182 in greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Board.

The Scottish Government are investing more than £50 million on initiatives such as MRSA screening, spot checks, and zero-tolerance on hygiene procedures to reduce infection rates by 30 per cent by 2010.

Minimum Prices for Alcohol to be set

photo courtesy of smh.com
photo courtesy of smh.com

Pressure is increasing on the government to set minimum prices for alcohol in England, following the publication of  Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson’s annual report.

This follows similar proposals made by the Scottish Government earlier this month.

According to Sir Liam: “Cheap alcohol is killing us like never before”. He hopes that setting a minimum price for alcohol could lead to over 3000 fewer alcohol related deaths and cut hospital admissions by 100,000 every year. 2007 saw 8724 alcohol related deaths in the UK alone.

If ministers at Westminster pass this proposal a minimum price of 50p could be set per unit of alcohol. This would make it illegal to sell a standard bottle of wine for less than £4.50. The price of an average six-pack of lager would increase to £6.00; almost triple the current supermarket price.

However, it is understood that Sir Liam’s proposal is likely to be rejected after it was met with strong opposition from Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He is concerned over the effect minimum price setting will have on “responsible drinkers”.

Scotland’s own plans  were dealt a blow over the weekend after the Scottish Whisky Association voiced concerns over the legality of setting minimum alcohol prices.

Nevertheless the Scottish Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon insists that this move is still under consideration in both Scotland and England:

“Alcohol misuse is a major problem north and south of the Border, and we welcome reports that the UK government are taking the first steps in following key aspects of the Scottish Government’s proposals. As in the ban on smoking in public places, it is clear Scotland is again ahead of the game”.

Government plans to reduce domestic abuse

By Sally Edgar.

Police may be given the power to warn women against potentially violent partners as the Government reveals a plan to tackle domestic abuse.

Men that have had previous offenses could be placed on a register, identifying them as a potential risk to women. This would be monitored by police who could have the authority to warn these offender’s girlfriend’s of their history. If neccessary, police could also be given powers to ban offenders from the family home for a fortnight.

These plans have been listed in a consultation document due to published by the Home Office. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith hopes that if the ideas are passed they could help to protect women and reduce their exposure to domestic violence.

“At the moment we have orders that quite often individual women take out on their partners, or ex-partners, if they have been abusive to them.
“Perhaps we ought to turn that round and say that the order ought to attach to the perpetrator, to the usually man, who has actually had a series of offences; that might be one way of doing it.

“Or perhaps there may be times when it is appropriate for people to actually be given information by the police that somebody that they have started a relationship with is somebody who has a history of violence.

“We’ve already made real progress with domestic violence incidents more than halving in the past 12 years. But I want to start a national debate on what more we can do to prevent it and challenging attitudes which condone it.”


Even with recent progress there are still a high number of cases of physical or emotional abuse in the home.
And it’s not just women that are suffering from this form of abuse. Jacqui Smith has announced that “Violence against women and girls is unacceptable in any form.” The fact that the report focuses on women victims may leave abused men feeling somewhat unsupported and discriminated against sexually.

In 2007, 142 people died in domestic attacks, including 38 men. Hundreds of thousands of individuals are thought to suffer some kind of abuse behind closed doors every year. Many of these people are too afraid to confront their partners and continue their lives in silence.

Scotland is also hoping to make this issue a high priority. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has reinforced the importance of fighting for this cause.
“Sadly, violence is part of too many women’s lives across the world. I want today to call on my fellow political leaders in Scotland – let’s put family back at the top of the agenda, let’s have the debate about how we put family back at the heart of society and how we support the family,” she said.

Public to report NHS hygiene failures to Scottish Government

handwashingBy Domenica Goduto

Patients and visitors to hospitals are being encouraged to report hygiene failures on the part of the NHS directly to the Scottish Government.

This measure is among several announced by the Government today as part of a new campaign to improve cleanliness standards in order to combat hospital superbugs. 

Other measures include random hygiene inspections and the creation of a government organization, the Care Environment Inspectorate, specifically dedicated to wiping out infections such as MRSA and C. diff.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon announced that the £1 million that will be spent on the scheme each year is an indication of the Government’s determination to tackle the problem.

She stated: “We have put in place a comprehensive package of measures, including boosting spending by 260 per cent, but it’s crucial that we – and more importantly the public – are assured that this work is delivering the high standards everyone expects.

“The Care Environment Inspectorate’s stringent inspection regime will do just that.

The initiative is the result of a consultation held last year in reponse to the C.diff outbreak that killed 18 people at the Vale of Leven hospital in 2007.

More stringent hygiene standards have already lowered the number of MRSA and C. diff cases since 2006, when 40 people across the Lothians died as a result of the latter infection.

Handwashing regulations are being more strictly adhered to, and the appointment of nurse wardens to each ward has helped with the enforcement of cleanliness standards.

Junior doctors have also been warned not to list C. diff as a contributing factor on death certificates unless they are absolutely positive that this is the case.

Sturgeon also notes that the appointment of a chief inspector to oversee the Government’s efforts in this area will be a key factor in its success.  She says:  “With the right person at the helm, offering strong leadership, I’m confident that the inspectorate will ensure all boards meet the highest possible standards.

The move follows claims by Theresa Fyffe, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, last week that the Government needed a more coordinated approach to battling superbugs, including more staff, an overall supervisor and clearer guidelines on initiatives.

She said that many frontline hospital staff were confused by the Government’s sporadic tactics and that the issue was becoming politicized, thereby creating confusion and anxiety on the wards.