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Coronavirus updates...

Please find a joint letter from the Chief Executives of COSLA and Public Health Scotland regarding the recently developed toolkit for the management of cases and outbreaks of Coronavirus in schools.  

 

You can find the toolkit here:

 

 Guidance relating to pregnant women

 

Following recent queries we approached COSLA for an update on the latest guidance for pregnant workers.

 

Please see advice received from Sharon Wilson who is the Maternal Policy Lead from SG.

 

Job Retention Bonus

 

The Government published a further Treasury Direction (TD) on Friday 2 October 2020 on the Job Retention Bonus along with accompanying guidance. This TD sets out the legal basis for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Bonus.  

 

You might find the Thompsons briefing on this helpful, which you can access here:

 

 

 

Discussions at the Workforce Issues Group (WIG) yesterday centred on the implications of the different protection levels set out in the Government’s Strategic Framework. We raised a number of issues raised and have requested that the group is brought back together as soon as possible to get clarity on them:

  •  There was much discussion about Sheilding and the individual nature of the new guidance for those at highest risk which you can read here.   Scottish Government representatives indicated that there would be no going back to the blanket approach of shielding for those in the higher risk categories.  They say that they have learnt that it is difficult to isolate people effectively and are concerned about the health (both physical and mental) and economic implications of doing so.  They stated that the majority of workplaces can be ‘made safe’ and so there is no blanket advice that these individuals should be taken out of the workplace.  

 

In Level 1 they see no substantive change for these individuals to the rest of the population – they follow the generic SAFE guidance.

 

In Levels 2 and 3 these individuals are to complete the individual risk assessment to highlight potential risks and discuss these with their employer.  If concerns remain they are advised to consult their GP/OHS.  

 

In Level 4 the CMO will issue a letter for the duration of the time their local area remains in that level.  They described this letter as ‘like a fit note’ but it was not at all clear whether it was a fit note or something else – we have asked for clarity on this.

  • There was a lot of debate about the statement that ‘most workplaces can be made safe’ and what happens if there is a difference of views about whether they are safe.  Scottish Government representatives stated that it is for the employer to determine what is reasonable and practical in terms of this and which mitigations can or should be put in place to make the workplace safe.  We reminded them of their responsibilities under Health and Safety legislation.

  • We raised specific concern about staffing levels and highlighted the FOI results and the survey of cleaning members in schools that the EIG recently undertook - read the report here. They are going to follow up on the flow of money to LAs and staffing levels of those that have not increased cleaner numbers.

  • We asked for clarity about the evidence being used to underpin decisions about the allocation to different protection levels and the importance of sharing this evidence with local trade union representatives.  

  • We asked for clarity about movement between the different levels and emphasised the importance of clear communication if there was to be regular movement. We also asked that there is a local forum bringing together local authority, public health and trade union representatives when any local authority is put into Level 4.

  • There was much discussion about self-isolation for those found to have been in ‘contact’ with someone who had tested positive for the virus.  You might find this guidance helpful in advising members who have concerns about the contact criteria:

 

We will as always give you an update when we have more information on all of this.

 

Adult Social Care Winter Preparedness Plan

 

A plan outlining steps to prepare and support Scotland’s social care sector through the winter has been published which you can find here.

 

Actions outlined in the plan include:

  • enhanced infection prevention and control, with £7 million for Health Boards to invest in Nurse Director teams

  • daily review of COVID-19 symptoms in care home residents and staff, including temperature checking so early testing can be undertaken and pre-emptive infection control measures put in place

  • expanded testing access for the care at home workforce and designated visitors as capacity increases

  • NHS National Services Scotland will continue to provide free of charge top-up and emergency provision of PPE to ensure staff, unpaid carers, and Social Care Personal Assistants have the PPE they need until at least the end of March 2021

  • prioritise a ‘home first’ approach to care, supporting people to stay home or in a homely setting with maximum independence for as long as possible

  • up to £500,000 will be available to all care homes to provide access to digital devices, connectivity and support to help manage conditions from home or connect those receiving care with their loved ones

  • £50 million to support the additional costs of restricting staff movement across care settings

  • £50 million for the Social Care Staff Support Fund and winter sustainability funding, through to the end of March 2021

  • maintaining and promoting access to local NHS Board workforce wellbeing services, the health and social care wellbeing national hub PROMIS and the NHS 24 mental health support service to support care home staff, the third sector and unpaid carers

  • up to £5 million for additional oversight and administration costs associated with responding to the pandemic and outbreak management

  • publication of a website with information and advice for families on visiting.

 

Public Libraries Guidance

 

The Public Libraries Guidance has been updated to reflect the new protection levels in the strategic framework.  The revised guidance can be found here.

 

 

 

Museums, Galleries and Heritage Attraction

 

The Museums, Galleries and Heritage Attraction Guidance has been updated to reflect the new protection levels in the strategic framework.  The revised guidance can be found here. Most of the updates are in the “Where are we now section”.  There have also been updates to the shielding sections and the face covering sections.

Workforce Issues Group Meeting

Toolkit for the management of cases and outbreaks in schools