Keeping up with you

Hello and welcome to all of you in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.

Thank you for taking a moment to look at this email. I want to keep everyone in touch with what’s going on in the constituency and what it might mean for you.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we are all working from home. If you need help, phone the office as normal and leave an outline message. Someone will soon get back to you. You can also email me at any time. All the contact details are at the end of this email.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to receive your personalised copy of this newsletter which we are sending out every two weeks, then please do sign up here.

If you have a friend who might be interested, you can forward this email to them so that they can decide whether or not to subscribe.
 
 
Parliamentary recess is over

As of this week, the Scottish Parliamentary Chamber will be back in action following the summer recess.
 
And what a strange summer it has been! Normally filled with lots of community events, festivals and sporting fixtures, our normality has changed dramatically. People in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse have been fully supportive of the essential restrictions, recognising the need to help everyone.
 
There remain a small number of incredibly thoughtless people who are not following the guidance. By doing this they are not only putting their own lives at risk, they are risking the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities.

Covid 19 update
This is such an insidious virus. No sooner do we think that just perhaps we are tentatively beginning to find our way through and out of it when it comes back somewhere with its vicious bite.
 
Aberdeen has the latest cluster of 101 cases on Friday 7 August, including two Aberdeen Football Club players. The First Minister expressed her frustration at the eight players who visited a bar in the city last Saturday night (31 July).


 
Lockdown measures were reintroduced last Wednesday as the cases in the cluster grew. By the First Minister’s Press Briefing on Friday 7 August, there were 22 new cases within that total of 101.

Ms Sturgeon said: "It is now clear that all eight of these players visited a bar in Aberdeen on Saturday night.

"In doing so they blatantly broke the rules that had been agreed between the SFA, the SPFL, and the Scottish government, which, to put it mildly, is completely unacceptable."

The First Minister added: “"We are asking members of the public to behave in a highly precautionary manner," she said.

"When a football club ends up with players infected with Covid - and let's remember this is not through bad luck but through clear breaches of the rules - we cannot take even a small risk that they then spread the infection to other parts of the country."

The situation in Aberdeen shows what happens if we let our guard down. The virus is suppressed across Scotland, but that does not mean it is gone. It is opportunistic, simply waiting for a chance to catch us when we become at all complacent. It doesn't need any encouragement. If we relax, then the virus will be back again and so will the restrictions needed to control its spread.




Hospitality and leisure rules
Settings where face coverings must be legally worn in Scotland is expanding to include certain indoor public places such as cinemas, galleries, museums and banks, from Saturday (8 August).
 
Further rules for the hospitality sector, including the introduction of new statutory guidance, have been announced to increase compliance and keep the sector safely open. From Friday (14 August), it will be mandatory to collect contact details of customers in a range of hospitality and public settings.
 


The First Minister said: “We’ve seen – every day of this outbreak – how easily Covid 19 can spread. We need to do everything we can to stop it in its tracks and that is why we are expanding the mandatory use of face coverings in more indoor public spaces, and will be implementing further regulations for the hospitality sector.

Many of these measures should already be in place as part of the guidance, but in order to keep the sector open – safely – we are now placing them in law.”

 
More people to get the seasonal flu jab
This winter, to protect those most at risk from concurrent infection of Covid 19 and flu, the government is expanding the vaccination programme to new groups and increasing capacity to vaccinate more people than ever before.
 
Social care workers, people over 55 and household members of those who are shielding will all be eligible for the free seasonal flu vaccine.  The Scottish Government will look to extend to those aged 50-54, if vaccine supplies allow.


Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, said: “The seasonal flu vaccination programme helps to protect the most vulnerable and alleviate pressure on the NHS. This will be more important than ever this year, in light of the Covid 19 pandemic.”
 

Further £63 million to maintain bus services
As my colleagues and I continue to press for the continuation of our X1 bus service – we are meeting with First again later this week – it is good news to note that the Scottish Government has approved additional expenditure 8 November. This extends the support of up to £46.7 million which is being provided to increase bus services since 22 June.
 


Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson said: “With bus travel typically accounting for just under three quarters of all public transport journeys – this funding for bus services is vital in keeping Scotland moving during the Covid 19 crisis.

"People all over the country are reliant on bus services to access employment, health services and to see family and friends. This additional funding of up to £63 million seeks to support those people, by anticipating their needs and keeping them safe – by providing an uplift in bus services with physical distancing measures in place.”
 

Cleaning up in Hamilton
Volunteer group, Helping Hands, are putting their shoulders to the task of cleaning up litter.
 
The group started up in response to the onslaught of Covid 19 to help people when and wherever they could do so. They have been delivering care packages, groceries and other vital supplies to families and individuals in need of support.
 


Now Helping Hands founder, Sean Boyd (pictured right, courtesy of the Hamilton Advertiser) and a group of other volunteers are heading off to the streets, parks, wooded areas, paths and woodlands to clean up after others.
 
South Lanarkshire Council Leader, John Ross (SNP) popped along to join the team at Eddlewood. They were delighted to have his help.
 
For further information on the group please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/878856882613432/
 
Hamilton Town House Library to re-open
Today (10 August) will see the Town House Library able to re-open with freshly installed protection measures to ensure safety for staff and visitors.


The measures in place include:
Controlled numbers of visitors in the early stages
Reception screens and PPE for staff
Enhanced cleaning regimes
Test and Protect registers
Sanitising stations
Compulsory wearing of face coverings by visitors
Social distancing observed
 
If you’re not already a library member, and would like to join, you can do so online at www.slleisureculture.co.uk

 

WOULD YOU LIKE TO HELP?
The community spirit shown by people across Lanarkshire has been heart-warming. If you would like to offer your help, there are a whole host of new groups working across Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.

They are working together to help spread cheer and make sure the most vulnerable in our area are getting the necessities they need.

The range of services provided include delivering shopping to elderly or vulnerable neighbours, using online group chats to combat social isolation and loneliness, and handing out care packages to the elderly and vulnerable.

If you are in Hamilton, you can find more information about the Hamilton Covid 19 Warriors here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/213851619986142

If you are in Larkhall, you can find out more information about the Covid 19 Rainbows – Larkhall here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1092656721095368/permalink/1092743704420003

If you are in Stonehouse, you can find out more information about Stonehouse Coronavirus Community Support here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3402877913061116

If you do not have Facebook but are keen to do your bit locally, then feel free to email me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I can put you in touch with one of your local groups.

At this time, it has never been more important for us all to look after our neighbours and family.
 
HELP SERVICES AVAILABLE
For Scottish Government information - https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/

For NHS Scotland information - https://www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus

For Resilience planning information - https://www.readyscotland.org/

For young people - https://young.scot/

Parents  https://www.parentclub.scot/ and https://www.children1st.org.uk/help-for-families/parentline-scotland/

For older people - https://www.ageuk.org.uk/scotland/

Scotland’s approach to implementing the ‘test, trace, isolate, support’ strategy, Test and Protect, is now live across the country.

Test and Protect will help us gradually change the restrictions that help to suppress COVID-19 so society can adapt to a new normal.

If you experience any one of the symptoms - a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – you must immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days.

As soon as you start showing symptoms you should go to www.nhsinform.scot or call 0800 028 2816 to arrange to get tested.

When contacting individuals who have tested positive, contact tracers will ask people to identify others who they’ve been in close contact with and places they’ve been 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms up until the time they’ve self-isolated. This information will then be inputted into contact tracing software and used to identify and contact those identified.

The positive individual will not be named by the contact tracer in line with patient confidentiality, unless they agree to have their details disclosed to help the contact tracing process.

Importantly, contact tracers will not ask anyone for information about bank accounts or medical records, and they will not try to sell you anything. The data gathered will be stored securely by NHS Scotland and safely destroyed as soon as possible after the pandemic concludes.

Copy of Sack Dominic Cummings (1).png

Commenting, SNP MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse Christina McKelvie said:

“I understand that people may be worried about the risks of potential phone scams, but the NHS already has a number of protections in place to stop potential fraudsters and ensure all information is kept confidential.

“Contact tracers will introduce themselves, state the reason for their call, and will always identify who they are calling by name. They will not ask for information about bank accounts or medical records, and they will not try to sell you anything.

“The tracers are supported by software which builds on a tried and trusted platform, allowing teams to identify outbreaks and reduce transmission for high risk groups here in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.

“Trace and Protect is one way we will tackle this pandemic, but physical distancing and good hand hygiene continues to play a huge role as minimise the spread of infection.”

SOUTH LANARKSHIRE RESIDENTS URED TO VISIT COMMUNITY PHARMACY WITH MINOR ILLNESSES

People across South Lanarkshire have been encouraged to visit their community pharmacy for advice and support to treat minor illnesses or common conditions, after a new NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service was launched earlier this week.

Local SNP MSP, Christina McKelvie has said the new service will allow community pharmacies to give people expert help for treating conditions such as sore throats, earache and cold sores, along with common clinical conditions such as Urinary Tract Infections. Pharmacy teams will offer advice, treatment or referral to other healthcare teams if required.

The move will allow South Lanarkshire residents to access the right care without having to visit their GP pharmacy or an A&E department for non-urgent treatment.

A&E departments remain open for emergency care – with the necessary public health measures in place to protect staff and patients.

pharmacy graphic.png

Commenting, SNP MSP Christina McKelvie for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse said:

“The launch of NHS Pharmacy First Scotland means that people in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, and across Scotland, will get the right care and medical support closer to home - often with no waiting time or appointments needed.

“In recent months, perhaps more than ever, the NHS has been there to protect us – but many of us don’t need to visit A&E to get the care we need.

“This new service will provide a local approach to ensure the community has access to healthcare for more minor ailments.

“Let’s remember though – in an emergency you should always contact 999 or go to your nearest accident and emergency department.”

Chair of Community Pharmacy Scotland Martin Green said:

“NHS Pharmacy First Scotland is an exciting service development for everyone. It recognises the role that the community pharmacy network can play in helping patients and the wider NHS team by ensuring people get the right care in the right place.

“Pharmacists, supported by their pharmacy teams, will be able to offer consultations for anyone with minor illnesses and provide the appropriate advice and support.”

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Keeping up with you

Hello and welcome to all of you in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.

Thank you for taking a moment to look at this email. I want to keep everyone in touch with what’s going on in the constituency and what it might mean for you.

My door is open to anyone who seeks advice and support, so you can  phone or email me at any time.

You also have the option of visiting  constituency surgeries on Mondays. You don't need to make an appointment.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to receive your personalised copy of this newsletter, which we are sending out every two weeks, then please do  sign up here.

Back to School, back to costs!


Pupils from across all of South Lanarkshire have been helped out with the price of school uniforms. COSLA confirmed that all 32 local authorities have implemented an increase for school clothing grant. 

The £100 minimum grant to all eligible families was put in place for the start of the academic year, relieving the financial pressure for South Lanarkshire families and pupils as they return to school. 

This announcement from the Scottish Government will provide real, tangible help to families feeling the strain. 

We all know the stress and pressure that the return to school can bring, with clothes, shoes, bags and all the accessories. 

In South Lanarkshire, we have already made great strides in providing pupils with school clothing through the Back to School Bank. 

It's great to see our Scottish Government taking an action that provides real help.


Motor Neurone Disease 

Some of you already know that I take a close interest in living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), as my own father did for many years before he died.

In June, just before we went off for the summer holidays, we marked MND Awareness Week. 

The Scottish Government has invested £2.5 million annually in the Specialist Nursing and Care Fund since 2015, more than doubling the number of MND specialist nurses across Scotland.


The new Health and Social Care Standards, introduced in April, seek to provide better personal outcomes for everyone and to ensure that the basic human rights we are all entitled to are upheld.

Everyone is entitled to care that meets their needs and upholds their rights.

The Euan MacDonald Centre, at Edinburgh University, https://www.euanmacdonaldcentre.org was started up with funds from Euan - just 29 when he was diagnosed - and his father, Donald. It's a fantastic resource, and I was directly involved with Euan on the building of a voicebank for patients to access, allowing them to pick out a voice sound that is closest to their own natural voice.




The Scottish Government recognise that research is essential for the development of new and effective approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of Motor Neurone Disease – investing in both research capacity and in bringing MND studies to Scotland.
 
Are you being scammed?

Watch out! What do you know about skimming or fake ATMs? The cleverer technology gets, the cleverer online scammers get to keep up. Phishing, harvesting, identity theft, hacked information such as BA's embarrassment last week. British Airways is facing a possible fine of around £500 million over a data breach that compromised 380,000 card payments after regulators said they were "making inquiries" into the incident.

 

So I took up the cause at Larkhall Trinity Church last week and invited in experts to explain more.

The ‘Scam Awareness Surgery’ was designed to make sure the citizens of Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse are made more aware of the latest scams and frauds. 

Research from Citizens Advice Scotland had shown that over 61% of over 65s have been approached by a scammer. Other schemes include computer repair/ phishing scams and home and identity fraud

Scammers can target anyone, but especially older people and anyone who has a vulnerability that makes them an easier target.

I thought it was important to give you the opportunity to ask questions and find out how best to protect yourselves against this ever more sophisticated form of theft.

Thanks especially to Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau, Trading Standards and Police Scotland for coming along to give east to understand help and guidance that will make sure people here are more protected and secure whether that's at an ATM or purchasing something online.

I'll be back in a couple of weeks with more news.