Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 541

Issue # 541                                                Week ending Saturday 29th  February 2020

The Celebrations Are Over So Now it is Time to Finally Ban Boxing Forever
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Why do boxers have TGIF on their boxing shoes? Toes Go In First. Just thought I would mention that one because many people have been celebrating the boxing for the last few days. Yay. Great fight. We have a British champion. The gipsy king has reclaimed his crown. World champion again. Whoop-dee-doo. Come on, Maciver. Be happy for that at least. That’s something to shout about. Yeah yeah, hurrah.

Boxing was never a sport. It should be labelled for what it is - cruelty and violence for the entertainment of sick people who live empty lives and have lost perspective. They stump up their hard-earned to get a wee thrill from the sight of blood and injury. Well, they must do. Why else would they bother?

I came to that awful conclusion years ago when I was sent by my newspaper to do a feature on south London boxers. Croydon lad Duke McKenzie held the WBO bantamweight title. I also interviewed soon-to-be WBC heavyweight title holder Frank Bruno on the day he opened the local water sports centre. The interest in boxing then was massive.
Ugly pugilism has been allowed, even encouraged, by morally-bankrupt legislators for centuries. Our fathers and grandfathers may have loved the ‘Enry Coopers, the Muhammad Alis, the Frank Brunos, and the wiry Barry McGuigans served up with comforting, familiar commentary by Harry Carpenter. That didn’t make it right. We are now in an information age so we can no longer pretend to ignore the facts about what left hooks actually do to the brains and personalities of boxing’s long and shameful list of bloody victims.

We can look up for ourselves pictures of smashed cerebellums of deceased boxers. The Association of Neurological Surgeons found nearly 90 per cent of boxers suffer a debilitating brain injury of some kind during an average career. Those injuries include damage to the surface of the brain, tearing of the nerve networks, lesions, bleeding and catastrophic large clots inside the brain.

For decades, the trend which became a joke was that retired boxers were a bit prematurely forgetful. They were actually seriously brain-damaged. Friends put TGIF on their shoes but no one really laughed. Everyone secretly knew the reason was tragic.

Amateur boxers are also at risk - more so where the rules enforcement is sloppy. Ex-boxers are at high risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Yet it’s allowed - a nationhood of Britons like hyenas round a stumbling antelope. Why do so few British people care? Boxers know the risks and they do it for the money, squeal the apologists for cruelty. No wonder the  British Medical Association, which has stated the facts for years, is tearing its associated hair out.
Money. Not everyone understands boxers and money. I know someone who works in the dispatch department of a well-known online shopping company. He said: “Professional boxers are among the highest paid people in the world. Apparently, my bosses at Amazon didn’t get that memo.” Er, right.

Does battering someone for money make it right, then? Would you push your own darling son up into a ring with Deontay Wilder as long as he got a big purse at the end to fund his dementia treatment and his premature burial? That is the reality too often. Why then is it OK for someone else’s son to be sent to be pulverised just because he knows no other way to earn a living?

Amateur boxers see the sport as a way to develop character. There are other ways but, more importantly, the entire charade of parading Wildlife on One with human beings instead of antelopes needs to be banned if we are to continue to claim to be a fair and decent country.
This week the overwhelming evidence of damaged skulls and brains caused to youngsters heading a football forced Scottish politicians to ban headers. That took too long too. These same politicians still ignore the vile ritualistic orgy of violence that we are still hoodwinked to refer to as the sport of boxing.

The professional boxers I met and wrote about at a dank, soulless gym in south London all these years ago were a mixed-up lot. Privately, they fretted over their poor financial future unless they reduced their friends to broken, helpless messes - again and again. That was their dastardly life just to earn a living. A couple of honest ones would whisper off-the-record over a pint afterwards that they hated the alleged sport but they would keep doing it until they no longer could. The wife expected. The kids expected. England expected.

Scotland needs to take the lead, as it did before in other worthwhile campaigns.
Like all of us who have to face horrible, stark reality, there is also dark humour in the most forlorn lives. When I asked one Croydon ex-champion boxer what his message to readers would be, he insisted the readers would have to wait for a few words on his gravestone. It would read: “You can stop counting. I’m not getting up.”

Health Board Cuts Out-of-hours Care At Five Centres
Scotland's largest health board has temporarily suspended all out-of-hours services at five centres due to a lack of available Gps.  NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) said the move was "the only option" which would allow the service to continue across west central Scotland.  The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow is among those affected. The others are Inverclyde Royal, Gartnavel Royal, Greenock Health Centre and Easterhouse Health Centre.  Out-of-hours overnight services will continue at Stobhill, Victoria, Royal Alexandra and Vale of Leven hospitals during the week.  With the exception of Vale of Leven, these centres will also be open during the evening and at weekends.  Patients are referred to the primary care centres by NHS 24 when their GP surgery is closed and they are too ill to wait until it reopens.  In June last year, NHSGGC said it had to temporarily withdraw weekend out-of-hours services as it did not have enough doctors "willing to work" between midnight and 07:59.  When a similar situation emerged in 2018, patients requiring urgent medical care were asked to go to accident and emergency.  Others were asked to wait until the out-of-hours centres opened again at 08:00.  The health board said the latest temporary closures were caused by national changes to GPs' pensions and terms and conditions, as well as "local operational issues".  This had led to short-notice centre suspensions "resulting in an inconsistent and unsustainable service".  Kerri Neylon, primary care lead GP at NHSGGC said: "Temporary consolidation of services is the only option which will enable us to continue providing this crucial service in the immediate future. This formalises the ad-hoc arrangement which has increasingly become the norm in recent months and provides patients and staff with certainly and reliability.  We are absolutely committed to delivering a long-term sustainable, safe and reliable out-of-hours service to patients across Greater Glasgow and Clyde."  He added: "The long-term delivery model, which uses new technology alongside smarter recruitment, is demonstrably the best way to meet demand. We are working to implement those changes as quickly as possible and we are acutely aware of the need to do so. There will be regular updates on progress."

Aberdeen City Council to Consider Budget Cuts of £37.9m
Aberdeen councillors are being asked to make almost £38m of budget cuts for the coming year.  The budget report - to be considered next week - highlights areas including school crossing patrollers, libraries and grass cutting in a bid to find £37.9m of possible savings. It also suggests a council tax rise of 3%.  The local authority's full financial position will be set out at a meeting next Tuesday.  A council tax rise of 3% would equate to a Band D house paying an extra £40 a year.  Four community libraries could be at risk, and instrumental music tuition in schools could also be hit.  Dimming street lights will also be considered, alongside removing non-statutory creche provision.  Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said nothing was certain at this stage.  He said: "We have been given a list of options from council officers.  Over the next week myself and other administration leaders will be looking at what we can cut. We will also be looking at income, where we can actually raise income."

St Kilda Centre to Be Built in Phases on Isle of Lewis

A visitor centre dedicated to the remote St Kilda archipelago is to be built in phases.  A Chiad Cheum is to be constructed at Uig on Lewis, about 41 miles (66km) east of the protected Unesco World Heritage site.  The project led by Ionad Hiort Ltd (The St Kilda Centre company) has involved 10 years of planning so far.  The first phase will cost £2m with funding then to be sought for further phases at a total cost of £5.5m.  Award-winning Norwegian architect Reiulf Ramstad has been working with Skye and Glasgow-based architects Dualchas on the designs.  Building on St Kilda's main island, Hirta, was ruled out because bad weather can restrict access to the small group of isles.  St Kilda is also a protected by internationally-recognised designations.  Islanders abandoned the archipelago in 1930, and today Hirta is only occupied for a few months of the year by National Trust for Scotland staff and volunteers, scientists and Ministry of Defence contractors who operate a rocket testing radar.  The small group of islands can be seen on clear days from the proposed visitor centre site on Lewis.  Iain Buchanan, chairman and director of Ionad Hiort Ltd, said: "Like many in the district of Uig I'd like to see an ambitious and bold development plan that can shape the next generation's future.  I believe passionately in the concept designs for the St Kilda Centre, but I also realise this project was never going to be straightforward."  A documentary about the project is to be shown on BBC Alba on 3 March at 21:00 and will also be available on the BBC Alba iPlayer.

Community Rallies Behind Fire-hit Invergordon Children
Events have been organised for children whose school was badly damaged in a major fire on Monday.  All children and staff were safely evacuated from Invergordon's Park Primary before the blaze engulfed the school.  Invergordon Leisure Centre has organised swimming and team games for the primary and nursery children.  Arrangements are being made to give the children school accommodation in Invergordon Academy from Thursday.  Ross County FC has called for donations of clothes and personal items to replace those lost in the blaze. Park Primary is one of a number of Highlands schools that have benefited from coaching and other activities offered by the Dingwall-based football club.  In a statement, the club said: "Everybody at Ross County is absolutely devastated to hear about what has happened at one of our sponsored schools, Park Primary. A school that has played such an important part in the heart of the Invergordon community for a number of years.  Park Primary is an important part of the Ross County family."  An old laptop may have caused the fire which broke out at about 10:00 on Monday.  At its height, the fire service had more than 50 firefighters, nine appliances, a high reach appliance and several support vehicles at the scene.  Park Primary has roll of 176 pupils and 32 nursery children.

Highland Hospital Puts Ban on Visiting After Norovirus Hits Three Wards
NHS Highland has placed a temporary suspension on visiting at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness to help staff deal with cases of diarrhoea and vomiting.  Wards 5C and 6C were closed to new admissions last week due to several patients experiencing symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting. Ward 7A has also been closed to new admissions today for the same reasons.  Norovirus has been confirmed on all three wards.  The hospital's infection prevention and control team are monitoring the situation and have placed a temporary suspension on all non-essential visiting throughout the hospital to prevent the spread of the virus.  Dr Adam Brown, NHS Highland’s consultant microbiologist, said: “Staff across NHS Highland are working very hard to reduce the risk of these infections spreading further across the hospital and we continue to appeal for support from the public to help with this. We have now put in place a temporary suspension of visiting for all visitors for overall patient safety and to prevent further potential spread throughout the hospital. It will help us in respecting our patients’ privacy and dignity at a time when many are experiencing distressing symptoms and will also help in preventing the spread of norovirus to visitors. Exceptions will be made for patients receiving end of life care or for those who are critically ill. If you feel that visiting is essential please contact the ward first by phone before coming to the hospital. Please do not visit the ward unless by prior arrangement with the nurse in charge.”  A spokeswoman for NHS Highland said: "If you, or anyone you live with, has had symptoms of diarrhoea and/or vomiting please refrain from visiting a hospital or care home setting until you have been symptom free for 72 hours."  Dr Brown added: “We are grateful for the support staff across all our hospitals in NHS Highland are receiving from the public at the moment and appreciate everyone’s understanding and co-operation at this time.”  The temporary suspension of visiting will be reviewed at the end of this week.

Sturgeon Chairs Resilience Meeting on Coronavirus As Preparations Stepped up
Nicola Sturgeon has chaired a Scottish Government resilience meeting as preparations for a coronavirus outbreak in Scotland accelerate.  The First Minister led the meeting to discuss preparedness in Scotland, following outbreaks in northern Italy and elsewhere.  Health Minister Jeane Freeman was among those in attendance and said those present are “expecting an outbreak and are working hard to ensure we have plans in place to contain it as best we can”.  Her comments came after Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer said people could be banned from gathering in large numbers to contain the spread of the virus, known as Covid-19, if it hits Scotland.  As of Tuesday afternoon, 412 people had been tested for the virus in Scotland, and all returned negative results.  Across the UK, 13 people have been confirmed to have the virus from 6,795 patients tested.  Ms Freeman said: “Though the risk to individuals remains low, and all test results have come back negative so far, the Chief Medical Officer has advised that it is highly likely that we will see a positive case in Scotland as coronavirus continues to spread.  We are expecting an outbreak and are working hard to ensure we have plans in place to contain it as best we can. The NHS and Health Protection Scotland have an established plan to respond to anyone who becomes unwell.  Scotland is well-prepared for a significant outbreak of coronavirus but there is currently no treatment or vaccine. Therefore, preventing the spread of any outbreak will be vital, and the Scottish Government is working closely with NHS Scotland and Health Protection Scotland to ensure this.  We have a proven track record of dealing with challenging health issues and have public health and infectious disease experts working intensively on these issues.  The public also has a vital role to play in helping us contain any outbreak by following the latest health and travel advice, and following basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.”  Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood said the Government and NHS were working on “containment first” and then – if coronavirus was discovered in this country – a range of measures to try to limit the number of people infected.  “If we do have a cluster, as has happened in Italy, then we move into delaying the spread,” she said.  “Delaying the spread would mean some of the measures that have happened already in Italy – stopping people coming together in large groups so that one or a few individuals do not spread to many, many more around them.” In Italy, Serie A football matches are being played behind closed doors, church services in the affected regions have been cancelled and Milan’s famous opera house, La Scala, has temporarily shut.  China’s outbreak could hit its peak by the end of February, Dr Calderwood suggested, but a European outbreak could last “several months”.  She added: “We have been planning now for many weeks for the inevitability of any case in Scotland and that preparedness has started with our NHS, but we now have stepped up our Scottish  Government resilience unit so that we have plans put in place for across all of our country beyond our healthcare system.”  On Tuesday morning, the UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said official advice has been changed to say those who have been to northern Italy – north of Pisa – should self-isolate if they have flu-like symptoms.  In Italy, 229 people have tested positive for the virus and seven have died, with police manning checkpoints around a dozen quarantined northern towns.  Health regulations in Scotland have been updated, requiring doctors to inform health boards about any cases of the disease.

Kilmarnock to Dumfries Rail Line Repair Work Begins

Work has started to repair a landslip which has shut the rail line between Kilmarnock and Dumfries.  A section of the line near Holywood in Dumfries and Galloway was badly affected during Storm Ciara earlier this month.  The line was closed since and detailed examination has been carried out by specialist engineers.  Work has now begun to allow the line to reopen but it is expected to remain shut until 16 March.  Replacement buses are running between Kilmarnock and Dumfries for the duration of the closure.  Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell visited the site to see the scale of the problem.  "It is apparent that the damage is severe and it makes you appreciate the force of the river and the destructive power it had when fuelled by the extreme wet weather," he said.  "I know that the team here are working very hard in difficult conditions to get the railway rebuilt and reopened for passenger services as quickly as possible."  Tom Podger, Network Rail's project manager, said the landslip was in a difficult location which presented a challenge in getting equipment and materials to the site.  He said they were working as "quickly as possible" to get the line reopened.

New Charges Proposed for Electric Vehicle Charging

Drivers of electric vehicles in the Western Isles could be set to face new charges for connection to Comhairle nan Eilean Sair’s network of charging points.  Councillors on the Comhairle’s Transportation and Infrastructure committee will this week (Wednesday) consider the introduction of new tariffs, with  a flat-rate charge of £6 per use being proposed, with the fees commencing in April. By the end of March, the Comhairle is expected to have a network of nineteen charging points across the islands and available for public use, and so far connection to the chargers has been free. The chargers were initially installed on Comhairle land to enable public use but also to support the growth of electric vehicles in the Comahirle’s own fleet of vehicles. But now, the Comhairle is looking to recoup costs which have so far been covered from the authority’s budget. The cost of electric supply to the Comhairle’s charging points cost nearly £4500 last year, and Transport Scotland currently funds maintenance costs of the facilities. The chargers at council headquarters in Stornoway were the most used in the authority last year with 767 charging sessions, with the points at Lionacleit School, Benbecula (411 charging sessions) and at the council offices in Balivanich (395) being the next most frequently used facilities.

A Life-Saving Drug, A Wee Boy and A Scandalous Catch-22
There’s a little boy in West Edinburgh who might be dead right now if it wasn’t for cannabis. Murray Gray is seven years old. He has a rare and terrible form of epilepsy that can only be controlled by an oil extracted from the cannabis plant.  While medical cannabis is now legal in this country, his specialists won’t write Murray an NHS prescription for it because NHS guidelines tell them to wait for UK trials. So his mum has had to source and import the oil privately and that is costing her a fortune.  Between January and March 2019, Murray was in a constant state of seizure to the point where he had no communication, motor function or awareness of his surroundings. His epilepsy was like a constant, rolling thunderstorm doing untold damage to his brain and body – beyond the reach of any standard therapy.  He was in hospital all of the time and his mother Karen had real cause to believe that he would die. Indeed, there is every suggestion that this would have happened had she not taken matters into her own hands.  A year previously, Murray had responded to the cannabis derivative Epidiolex (cannabis oil, but with the psychoactive substance THC removed) – however the preparation had proved too weak to have a lasting impact.  Armed with extensive research and the knowledge that a whole cannabis plant oil (including THC) was working for similar patients on the Continent, Karen was forced to travel to the Netherlands and bring back the pharmaceutical-grade oil to his hospital bedside. There she secretly started to administer the oil to Murray, closely following the Dutch medical guidance for its use.  The affect was nearly instantaneous and it was miraculous. Murray stopped seizing, he regained motor control and started speaking again. He was even able to go back to school. He has to take the oil every day but since that awful period at the start of last year, he hasn’t had a single seizure. Happy ending, right? Wrong. Murray’s family now have an importer, a private prescription and private consultant supervision for the administration of the cannabis oil, but because it’s not through the NHS they have to pay for every single bottle. All told that costs her family more than £1000 a month.  Murray’s recovery can only be attributed to the oil, that much is true. So persuaded was Murray’s local GP by this that he was willing to write Murray an NHS prescription for it. In addition, acting on her behalf, I obtained a letter of comfort from the Health Secretary confirming to Karen that the Scottish Government would pay for every drop of oil if it came through that NHS prescription. Karen made it as far as the chemist before her hopes were dashed.  There she learned from the pharmacist that only consultant neurologists registered on a controlled list could write such a script. Therein lies the problem. No NHS neurologist is willing to write a prescription for this kind of oil, because NHS guidelines do not support its use before clinical data is obtained from UK trials. So we’re stuck in an awful Catch-22. We have an NHS clinician (Murray’s GP) who is willing to prescribe the oil but is not permitted to do so because he isn’t on a specialist register. Then we have Murray’s neurologists adhering to NHS guidelines which say they have to wait for data (from trials that are yet to begin) before prescribing. We are looking at both a shared care arrangement for Murray or even enrolling him in a UK clinical trial for the oil but so far a solution still hasn’t emerged.  Murray is alive and he’s being kept alive by a medicine that UK -politicians have legalised but UK clinicians haven’t verified. While we wait for something to break that logjam, the months tick by and Karen’s money drains away.

Highland Council Plans 'Biggest' Single Investment in Roads
Highland Council is planning its "biggest ever" single investment in roads projects. An extra £20m is proposed for capital schemes and an additional £1.3m of annual revenue for road maintenance as part of the authority's 2020-21 budget.  Highland Council has responsibility for the longest non-trunk road network in Scotland, about 4,189 miles (6,740km).  The local authority plans to fund the new investment by increasing council tax by 4.84%.  Highland Council said 3% of the tax increase would be used to balance its budget and 1.84% for investing in roads.  The council's full budget proposals will be discussed by councillors at a special meeting in Inverness on 5 March.

RAF Jets Scrambled to 'Russian' Bombers Off Shetland
RAF jets have been scrambled after reports of unidentified aircraft flying towards UK airspace.  The aircraft, thought to have been Russian bombers, were spotted off Shetland. A spokesman for RAF Lossiemouth in Moray said two quick reaction alert Typhoon fighter aircraft had been launched in response to the incident.  The bombers were not intercepted as they remained outside of the area considered UK airspace.  An RAF spokesman said: "RAF Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon fighter aircraft were launched today from RAF Lossiemouth after unidentified aircraft were tracked flying towards UK airspace.  However, the aircraft remained outside of our area of interest and no intercept took place."

'Uncaring and Unreasonable' Home Office Slammed by Ross, Skye and Lochaber Mp Ian Blackford Over Beauly Couple's Immigration Saga
An elderly woman from Beauly faces having to travel to Canada alone after UK immigration officials ruled she had to file a visa request from her home country.  Elizabeth Gellatly (73) and husband Philip (69) married in Grantown in 2015 after living together since 2012. They moved to Mrs Gellatly’s native Canada in 2016 but returned to Scotland last year and settled in Beauly when Mr Gellatly became ill.  They had assumed that, as a married couple, there would be no issues with citizenship, but now Mrs Gellatly has been informed that she will have to apply for a spouse visa – and will have to do that from Canada.  As Mr Gellatly is too ill to travel she will have to make the trip alone, a situation she said would be difficult not just because of her age but also due to the fact that she suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  “Since I found out about this, it has been my main thought and it has affected everything 24/7,” she said. “It is very, very upsetting.  It is my first thought when I wake up in the morning and it is my last thought before I try and get some sleep at night.”  Mr Gellatly said the news that his wife – who has Scottish and English ancestry – would only get leave to remain in Scotland for three months without the spouse visa had left them feeling like second-class citizens.  “I was convinced that, as a man in my own country, our marriage would supersede all visa requirements,” he said. “When I was a merchant seaman for more than 30 years all sorts of men would take their wives home from abroad.”  Highland MP Ian Blackford has taken up the couple’s case.  “The UK immigration system is broken and, increasingly, the Home Office response to cases such as this is uncaring, unreasonable and lacking in common sense,” he said.  “Current policies are restrictive and unhelpful and do not allow staff to deal quickly and efficiently with cases such as that of Mr and Mrs Gellatly.  There is no clear reason why this elderly lady should not be allowed to remain in her home in Scotland while she applies for a spouse visa. To require her to travel to Canada to submit this paperwork – with all the stress and uncertainty this entails – is uncaring and unnecessary given this couple’s situation, and is a high price to pay for a genuine lack of understanding of immigration law. I very much hope that common sense and compassion will prevail so that this couple can get on with their lives, without further worry or stress.”  A Home Office spokesman said: “All visa applications are considered on their individual merits, on the basis of the evidence available, and in line with immigration rules.”

Coronavirus: Drive Through Testing Begins At Edinburgh Hospital

A "drive through" testing centre for Coronavirus has opened in Edinburgh amid warnings a positive case in Scotland is "inevitable".  Patients with appointments are being tested for the virus in their cars at the Western General Hospital in the city.  Scotland remains the only part of the UK without a positive Covid-19 case.  But chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood has warned it is "just a matter of time" until this changes.  A patient diagnosed with coronavirus in England has become the first person to catch it in the UK, rather than while travelling abroad.  The news comes after a British man became the first UK citizen to die from the virus after catching it on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.  Latest figures show a total of 500 tests for coronavirus have now been carried out in Scotland but there are still no confirmed cases.  However, Dr Calderwood told BBC Scotland it is very likely this will change.  She said: "We have been saying for some time now that a positive case is inevitable in Scotland so it is just a matter of time until we confirm a case here.  The labs in Glasgow and Edinburgh have good capacity for testing at the moment but we have also expanded our different methods for community testing in all of our health boards." Dr Calderwood said the NHS was looking at "innovative ways" of testing people, such as the drive through centre, which will reduce the chances of the virus spreading.  The chief medical officer also revealed that health protection officials have been in touch with counterparts in Spain after a group of Scottish tourists were among those trapped in in a Tenerife hotel because of coronavirus.  She said officials will be "giving advice" to individuals returning from Tenerife.   The main signs of infection are fever (high temperature) and a cough as well as shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.  Frequent handwashing with soap or gel, avoiding close contact with people who are ill and not touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands can help cut the risk of infection. Catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue, binning it and washing your hands can minimise the risk of spreading disease.  The "drive-through" testing centre for Covid-19 was introduced in Edinburgh as NHS Lothian steps up preparations for a possible spread of the virus.  The move follows the introduction of a similar testing service provided by Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust in Parsons Green, as part of efforts to help residents test "safely and quickly" and close to their home.  Patients who are given an appointment with NHS Lothian will be asked to drive directly to the testing area, without speaking to anyone else on the route.  They will be met by specially trained healthcare professionals in protective clothing, who will ask them to wind down the window of their car.  A throat swab will be taken and the patient will be given information on self-isolation and asked to return and remain at home.  Results will usually be returned within 24 hours.  NHS Lothian medical director Dr Tracey Gillies said: "This service is for patients who have been assessed by the specialist team so it is an appointment-only service.  It is not a drop-in clinic and it is important to stress that patients cannot be seen without an appointment. The drive-through facility and the community testing teams allow us to test patients without them coming into healthcare facilities."

Battle Lines Being Drawn Over Fishing Rights

Fish have been served up among the main bones of contention between the UK Westminster government and the European Union.  The negotiating mandate published on Thursday at Westminster is a long way from the vision for a future relationship for managing wild fish stocks in the European Commission's proposals.  That comes as no surprise to those who have seen the pre-negotiation posturing - from the rhetoric of the 2016 Brexit campaign, to the priorities set out by Brussels along with the Withdrawal Agreement.  The industry does not matter nearly as much as car manufacturing or finance. In employment terms, traditional fishing represents less than 1% of the UK economy, and little more than that in Scotland. However, it is of totemic importance to coastal communities and to the governments that represent them. Brexiteers played on dislike of the Common Fisheries Policy, making claims of the harm it did since 1973.  In negotiations to join, one telling Whitehall internal discussion saw fisheries described as "expendable" alongside other priorities. That treatment has been a powerful way of boosting hostility to the EU from Shetland and north-east Scotland to Cornwall. However, other parts of the fishing industry are concerned that their access to European markets will suffer in the looming negotiations, including creel fishing and food processing.  On Wednesday in the Scottish Parliament, Fergus Ewing, the cabinet secretary responsible for fisheries (and much else besides), set out means of getting the inshore fleet to get along better, resolving disputes over gear and putting less plastic in the water. He also set out how significant that sector is: 80% of Scotland's 2,000 registered fishing vessels operate in inshore waters.  Of those 1,600 boats, most are micro-businesses going after prawns, langoustine, lobster and scallops.  Much of the catch is heading for export markets in France, Spain and Italy: in 2018, £100m-worth of langoustines were exported from the UK.  Two-thirds of the world's langoustines are sourced in Scotland, he said, mostly destined for France, Spain and Italy.  Much of that catch is trucked, fresh or even live, to continental markets. The sector fears health certificates will be required, adding to delay and cost. And trucks could be stuck in bottlenecks at Channel ports, each one with diminishing value to its cargo as it does so.  Meanwhile, Spain, France and the continuing EU members around the North Sea have ensured the industry has a special status in the EU negotiating mandate. Even though many other countries have no coast let alone a fishing fleet, they have signed up to this.

Last Updated (Saturday, 29 February 2020 02:47)