Sturgeon: There will be public inquiry into care home deaths

The FM was challenged over care homes as new figures showed more than 1700 deaths of residents from Covid-19.

The First Minister has said there will be a formal public inquiry into the Scottish Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, including in care homes.

Nicola Sturgeon was challenged over care home deaths as the latest figures showed more than 1700 elderly residents with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 have died since the pandemic began.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw branded the issue a “national scandal” and claimed care home residents had been treated as “second-class citizens”.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said there had been a “rush to discharge” hospital patients to residential care facilities at the start of the outbreak without adequate testing in place.

The First Minister “took exception” to the idea the elderly had been treated as “second-class” and said hospital beds had been cleared out of fears a “tsunami” of new Covid-19 cases might have overwhelmed the NHS.

She said the guidance at the time was clear that people with coronavirus symptoms should not be discharged to care homes, and said care homes, even privately-run, should have adhered to that guidance.

Last week, health secretary Jeane Freeman revealed that 921 “delayed discharge” patients were moved to care homes in March – far higher than initially thought.

However, mandatory testing of all those being moved into care homes only began on April 21.

Demanding a formal public inquiry, Carlaw said: “It is now clear that what happened in our care homes in March and April was a national scandal.”

Sturgeon assured the Scottish Tory leader there would be a public inquiry into the coronavirus crisis which would “undoubtedly include what happened in care homes”, although she did not say when it would begin.

The First Minister said she could see why “with everything we know now” people would ask questions about the approach to discharging to care homes.

But she insisted: “Throughout this crisis I’ve taken the best decisions I can based on the best information and evidence I had at the time.”

The Scottish Labour leader highlighted that the World Health Organisation had been calling for all countries to test on a mass scale since March.

Not doing so until April for those moving into care homes, he said, had resulted in “devastating consequences” for residents.

Sturgeon said if those people had not been moved from hospital, some might have caught coronavirus there as well.

She added: “More than Richard Leonard might know, I regret every person who has lost their life.”

One in six UK adults fully vaccinated against Covid-19

In Scotland, more than 15% of adults have been given two doses of the vaccine.

Geoff Caddick via PA Wire
The figures are for vaccinations reported by the UK’s health agencies up to April 15.

One in six UK adults are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with more than two million second doses delivered in the past seven days, latest figures show.

A total of 8.9 million people have now received both jabs – the equivalent of 17.0% of the adult population.

In Scotland, over 15% of the adults have been given two doses, some way behind Wales where an estimated 22.8% have and Northern Ireland (17.2%), with England sitting at 16.8%.

The figures are for vaccinations reported by the UK’s health agencies up to April 15, and reflect the pace at which second doses are being ramped up across the country.

PA Graphics via PA Wire
Adults who have received Covid-19 vaccine (PA Graphics).

Some 2.4 million second doses were recorded in the seven days to April 15, compared with 1.6 million, 1.9 million and just under one million in the previous three weeks.

Second doses of Covid-19 vaccines must follow within 12 weeks of the first, meaning the millions of people who received their initial jab in January and early February have recently had a follow-up dose, or are due to get the jab shortly.

People aged 80 and over were among the first groups on the priority list for vaccines, with initial doses offered from early December.

Figures released on Thursday by NHS England suggest around three-quarters of people in England in this age group have now had both doses of vaccine.

In Scotland, 72% of people 80 and over are estimated to have had both jabs, along with 67% in Wales and 41% in Northern Ireland.

Wales leads the field in both first and second doses of vaccine, with nearly two-thirds of its adult population having received the first jab (65.7%), followed by England (61.8%), Scotland (61.4%) and Northern Ireland (58.5%).

Scots soak up sunshine as Covid travel restrictions ease

Parks and seaside resorts busy as groups of up to six adults from six households are now allowed to meet outdoors.

STV News

Some coronavirus travel restrictions have been removed in Scotland and more people are now able to meet up outdoors.

The latest stage in lockdown easing was announced at an unscheduled Covid-19 briefing by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday.

She said the continued decline in virus cases meant the restrictions can be eased earlier than planned.

Scots can now travel across local authority boundaries for outdoor socialising, recreation and exercise.

STV News
Cyclists pass a queue at an ice-cream van in Cramond, north-west of Edinburgh.

But they must follow the “stay local” order for other purposes such as non-essential shopping, and travel to some islands is not allowed.

Rules on gatherings have also been relaxed, with groups of up to six adults from six households now allowed to meet outdoors.

Children under 12 do not count towards the limit.

STV News
Loch Morlich near Aviemore in the Highlands

As the changes took effect, the latest Scottish Government coronavirus figures showed three deaths of Covid patients and 204 positive tests were recorded in the past 24 hours,

Friday’s data brings the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 7640.

The daily test positivity rate is 1.4%, up from 1.2% on Thursday.

There are now 109 people in hospital in Scotland confirmed to have the virus, down six in 24 hours, and of these 18 patients are in intensive care – up two.

STV News
Largs on Friday, April 16.

A total of 2,722,084 people north of the border have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and 688,761 have had their second.

Among those heading further afield on Friday was Andrew McVie, 27, from Glasgow, who told the PA news agency he was “super excited” to be visiting Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae for a cycling day trip for the first time in more than two years.

The clerical assistant said he has enjoyed returning to the scenic island – a short ferry ride from Largs on the North Ayrshire coast – after visiting as a child with his mother.

He said: “I try and go with a bike when I’m free on weekends and day trips, I really enjoy it and it’s dead handy to get to and dead easy to cycle around, you can do it in about two hours if you don’t stop.

STV News
Largs on Friday, April 16.

“It’s why a lot of people like it, there’s great scenery and it’s a really nice, friendly, welcoming place and it’s a beautiful day.

“I’ve missed it so much not being able to go because of the travel restrictions, but I’ll still be taking precautions.

“And tomorrow I’m going through to Edinburgh with a couple of friends for the first time in over a year which will be good.”

STV News
Lochore Meadows in Fife.

The latest lockdown easing comes after barbers and hairdressers opened on April 5 and ahead of a more substantial unlocking of the country on April 26.

On that date, Scotland will move from level four to level three of the four-tier system of restrictions.

Cafes, restaurants and beer gardens can then reopen, along with shops, gyms, libraries and museums.

Travel between Scotland, England and Wales will be permitted and tourist accommodation can welcome back visitors.

STV News
Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow.

Other restrictions will ease in May and over the summer if Covid-19 continues to be suppressed.

Announcing the measures on Tuesday, Sturgeon said: “We have always said we will keep plans under review and accelerate the lifting of restrictions if possible.

“The improved data does not allow us to throw caution to the wind – not if we are sensible – but it does give us a bit of limited headroom.

STV News
People enjoying the sun and sand in Aberdeen on Friday, April 16.

“So from the end of this week, you will be able to meet up with family and friends who live in different parts of the country.

“Many of those reunions will be long-awaited, and much anticipated. Please do remember that meetings at this stage must still be outdoors – you cannot socialise in people’s homes – and remember due to physical distancing, public transport capacity remains relatively limited.”

But on Thursday, the First Minister told the PA news agency it was “positive” that the easing of travel restrictions had been brought forward, but cautioned Scots not to allow their guard to drop.

STV News
Two people meet together on a bench in Aberdeen.

“Don’t go to crowded places, if you’re headed to a beach or a park and it’s crowded please come away again because crowded places are not safe places to be.

“Please stick to all of the rules and advice, remember your face covering, remember, as I say, to avoid crowded places, hand hygiene, keep your two metre distancing.”

The First Minister added: “As long as we all stick to the advice that’s still in place, this easing of restrictions tomorrow should be the first of many and I think, not least because of the vaccine programme, we can all afford to be just that bit more optimistic right now.”

Puppy stolen during armed robbery reunited with owners

The American Bulldog's owner was threatened with 'bladed weapon' in Glasgow on Wednesday night.

Police Scotland
Nine-week-old Cairo was reunited with his owners on Friday.

An American Bulldog puppy stolen from a home in Glasgow has been reunited with his owners.

Nine-week-old Cairo was taken from Meiklerig Court in Pollok when three men broke in on Wednesday night.

One of the men threatened the homeowner with a “bladed weapon” before stealing the dog.

But the pooch was found in Shettleston on Friday evening.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “The dog was found in the Shettleston area and has now been returned to its owners. Enquiries are ongoing into the incident.”

Detective constable Christopher Sneddon, of Police Scotland’s Glasgow CID unit, said on Thursday: “Thankfully nobody has been injured as a result of this incident but the owner has been left evidently shaken. 

“We are appealing to anyone who may have noticed three men acting suspicious in the area to come forward and speak to officers.

“If there is anyone who has possible CCTV or dashcam footage that could assist with our enquiries, please get in touch with police. 

“I would also ask if anyone is approached about buying a puppy similar to this to get in contact with police. 

“Police can be contacted on 101 quoting incident number 3960 on Wednesday, April 14, 2021.”

Huge plumes of smoke as firefighters tackle wildfire

The blaze in Glen Cloy near Brodick was first reported at around 3.50pm on Friday.

Craig Galloway via Submitted
Three appliances are in attendance at the grass fire.

A wildfire has spread across a hillside on the isle of Arran after warnings of an extreme risk across western Scotland.

The blaze in Glen Cloy near Brodick was first reported at around 3.49pm on Friday.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said that firefighters were working to control the blaze across a 100m front.

The fire has engulfed a hill near Brodick on the isle of Arran (Craig Galloway)

Three appliances are in attendance at the grass fire.

There is a warning of an extreme risk of wildfires across western Scotland.

The fire has engulfed a hill near Brodick on the isle of Arran (Craig Galloway)

The warning is in place across west, north-east, east and central Scotland until Saturday, April 17.

Kids petition after custard and ice cream taken off menu

Changes to school dinners have been brought in to meet government regulations on nutrition.

Louise Grant via Contributed / travellinglight via IStock
Custard and ice cream are being removed from the menu in Aberdeenshire schools.

School children have started a petition after custard and ice cream were removed from their dinner menu.

Parents and kids at Rhynie Primary School in Aberdeenshire have been annoyed by the removal of the sweet treats as the council aims to meet with government nutritional requirements.

Louise Grant’s seven-year-old Ross attends the school. She told STV News: “I think it’s ridiculous, they get a perfectly healthy balanced diet at the school including puddings and are running around non-stop at primary school age. It’s all about money.

“Fruit is not any cheaper than custard powder or a tub of icecream. It’s not like the kids are getting huge portions especially in smaller schools like Rhynie.”

Louise Grant via Contributed
Louise Grant’s sons Ross, 7, and Fraser, 3.

Other alternative desserts are being offered in the changes to the menu, but the children wrote to the council specifically about the sweets made by their cook.

Fi Hunter, who has two kids at another Aberdeenshire school, said: “For some children school may be the only place they get hot puddings with custard or ice cream and it may be the best part of school dinners.”

She said that the school is also stopping the tuck-shop meaning the children will miss out on a valuable lesson on using money.

Ms Hunter said: “I’d far rather have the children using money a couple of times a week and gaining that experience over not having that option, it’s a shame.”

“Schools have a pivotal role in supporting healthier dietary choices from an early age.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney

New Scottish Government regulations, published in February, aimed to increase access to fruit and vegetables and reduce the amount of sugar available.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Schools have a pivotal role in supporting healthier dietary choices from an early age. The food and drink options they provide and the eating and drinking habits they instil can also serve as an example for positive dietary choices for wider society.

“We all have a part to play in shaping the choices of children and young people but government and schools cannot do it alone, we need the support of parents, industry, community and producers.”

Schools in Shetland have no plans to follow Aberdeenshire Council’s lead in cutting ice cream and custard from their menus.

Shetland Islands Council’s catering team leader Neil Beattie said the desserts are served up just once each in the four-week menu cycle, with fruit and natural yoghurt offered more regularly.

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesperson said: “Our primary school menus have been refreshed so to be in line with nutritional requirements introduced by the Scottish Government.

“This means that whilst deserts such as ice cream and custard have been removed alternatives like brownies, muffins, gingerbread, and cookies are now available.

“However, our focus is currently on healthy eating as well as using the very best produce available in Aberdeenshire and Scotland to provide pupils with nutritious and delicious meals at affordable prices.”

Hunt for thieves who torched children’s charity minibus

The bus, belonging to childcare charity Simply Play, was found burnt out and destroyed.

Simply Play via Simply Play
Destroyed: The minibus was found on Monday.

A minibus stolen from a primary school in West Lothian has been found burnt out and destroyed.

The bus, belonging to childcare charity Simply Play, was stolen from Simpson’s Primary in Wester Inch, Bathgate on Friday.

After an appeal to help find the bus, the “heartbroken” group revealed on Friday that it had been found, but in an irreparable state.

It was found completely burnt out in Fauldhouse on Monday evening.

A GoFundMe page has now been launched to help pay for a new bus.

Posting on their Facebook page they said: “Words can’t describe how heartbroken we are.

“This is what they’ve done to our children’s minibus – totally stripped and burnt out in the middle of nowhere.”

Police are now investigating the incident.

A spokesperson for the force said: “Police in West Lothian are investigating the theft of a vehicle from outside a school in Bathgate which was later found burnt out in Fauldhouse.

“The theft happened from outside the school on Leyland Road on Friday, 9 April, sometime after 5.30pm.

“The vehicle was then found burnt out on Monday evening, in Fauldhouse.

“Anyone who saw the vehicle between Friday, 9 April and Monday, 12 April, or has any information to assist police enquiries, should contact officers on 101.”

The charities GoFundMe page has so far raised over £1,000 towards a replacement.

Their CEO Raymond Branton said: “Everyone is gutted with this heartless theft.

“The last year has been tough enough on childcare providers and as a local charity, this will cost us money that we can ill afford”

SNP: Dental charges axed for youngsters who have been in care

The SNP manifesto, unveiled by Sturgeon on Thursday, contained plans to axe the charges over the course of the next parliament.

Jane Barlow via PA Ready
Sturgeon: To axe dental charges for young Scots who have been in care.

Plans to scrap NHS dental charges in Scotland will begin with abolishing the fees for young people who have been in care, Nicola Sturgeon is due to confirm.

The SNP manifesto, unveiled by Sturgeon on Thursday, contained plans to axe the charges over the course of the next parliament if the party is re-elected to power in next month’s Holyrood election.

If returned as First Minister, Sturgeon plans to work with the British Dental Association and others to develop a “reformed funding arrangement” for services to make them “sustainable for the long term”.

The SNP scrapped prescription charges in Scotland while Sturgeon was health secretary.

She added that ending dental charges would “complete an SNP mission – to restore all of Scotland’s NHS to its founding principle” of being free at the point of demand.

Ending the charges will cost £75m initially, though Sturgeon said this was expected to rise to £100m as demand increases when fees are removed.

The SNP leader, who is campaigning in Glasgow on Friday ahead of next month’s election, will say: “NHS services should be free at the point of need, and when I was health secretary I was proud to abolish prescription charges, which were little more than a tax on ill health.

“Although we have made huge progress in improving access to dental treatment in Scotland in recent years, charges remain a barrier for too many people.

“That’s why, if re-elected, an SNP Government will abolish all NHS dentistry charges in Scotland.

“We will start the rollout with care-experienced people between the ages of 18 and 26 – and complete the rollout over the course of the parliament.

“As we do this, we will engage with the British Dental Association and others to help shape a reformed funding arrangement to make their services sustainable for the long term.”

Sunshine on Leith actor guilty of sexually assaulting actress

Kevin Guthrie faces jail after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a vulnerable woman in Glasgow.

Amanda Edwards / Stringer via Getty Images
Guilty: Kevin Guthrie faces jail.

Scottish actor Kevin Guthrie has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a vulnerable actress.

The Sunshine on Leith star, 33, took advantage of the 29-year-old woman who had appeared unwell after a night out. 

The incident occurred at the flat of fellow actor Scott Reid – Methadone Mick in BBC’s Still Game.

Guthrie had insisted he had only “helped” the woman that night – but his DNA was found on the inside of her underwear.

He wept and said “why?” as the verdict was delivered at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Friday.

He had denied a sexual assault charge during a four-day trial.

Sheriff Tom Hughes told him: “You took advantage of this woman while she was in a vulnerable position.

“The jury say you were found in a position of trust while you were supposed to be looking after her.

“Your position stands in direct contrast to the one of your friend Scott Reid whose actions were highly commendable.

“He rushed to her aid when something happened outside his home and he cared for her.

“He was constantly trying to get help through NHS 24 and did absolutely anything to help her.

“This must carry a custodial sentence for this serious matter you have been found guilty of.”

Guthrie, of the city’s Yorkhill, was put on the sex offenders’ list.

He was bailed pending sentencing next month.

The attack occurred between September 30 and October 1, 2017.

The woman had been due to meet Guthrie and Scott at a bar on the night of the alleged attack.

Scott received a call from a taxi driver to collect her as she appeared ill.

He and Guthrie helped the woman into the flat in Glasgow’s Kelvindale and put her on a bed.

Scott called NHS 24 leaving Guthrie in the room “to make sure she was okay”.

The woman recalled Scott not being in the room and bed covers then “being moved down my body”.

She went on: “I remember my top being lifted up and my bra being held down.”

The woman was groped by Guthrie before he performed a sex act on her.

Guthrie – who also starred in the Fantastic Beasts film and Netflix series The English Game – carried out a further two sexual acts and kissed her on the mouth. He would stop when Scott would come into the room.

She added: “I was unsure about what was happening, I could not believe it was happening.”

Prosecutor Harry Findlay asked why she did not say anything.

She replied: “I couldn’t. I found it difficult to communicate in any way.

“I think I was frozen as well.”

Guthrie refuted the accusations agreeing with his QC Gordon Jackson that it had instead been a “panic situation” due to the woman’s condition.

However, his DNA was found on the inside of the woman’s underpants.

Mr Findlay asked Guthrie to explain why this was.

He said: “I can’t for the life of me explain in any rational sense how that happened.”

Sentence was deferred until next month for background reports.

Man in court accused of murdering father-of-two in street

Kai Russell, 22, allegedly killed Kamil Charyszyn , 35, in Easterhouse on 21 March, 2021.

Mark Scates via SNS Group / Police Scotland
Kai Russell appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court accused of the murder of Kamil Charyszyn (right).

A suspect has appeared in court accused of murdering a man on a Glasgow street.

Kai Russell, 22, allegedly killed Kamil Charyszyn , 35, in Easterhouse on 21 March, 2021.

Prosecutors claim Russell stabbed Mr Charyszyn on the neck with a knife or a similar instrument.

Russell is also accused of having a knife without a reasonable excuse or lawful authority in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, on the same date. 

Russell, who was represented by his lawyer Ian Moir, made no plea at a private hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

He was remanded in custody pending further examination.

Russell, also of the city’s Easterhouse, will appear in court again within the next eight days.

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