UHI Shetland - Open the door to your future
Sunday 23 June 2024
 11.4°C   WSW Moderate Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Coronavirus / Health chief welcomes government commitment on testing

Michael Dickson warns, however, that the logistics are ‘not as simple as some may portray’

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson has welcomed a commitment from the Scottish Government to explore the prospect of testing travellers to the Northern Isles for coronavirus.

However, he stressed that it is “not as simple as some may portray” and said there are a number of questions around logistics which remain unanswered.

The Shetland and Orkney MSPs met with government ministers on Friday and local political Beatrice Wishart said afterwards that the government is now “keen to work with the island authorities and health boards on proposals for testing at entry points”.

Speaking on Monday, Dickson – who also leads NHS Orkney – said he understands the desire from many in the community to test those coming into the islands.

“At this very early stage the logistics of how this will be done need to be worked out and discussed,” he said.

These questions include:

  • who would carry out the testing?
  • where would this take place (as proposals would require multiple health boards and transport companies)?
  • how would positive cases be managed and isolated (we wouldn’t have legal powers to detain them)?
  • would this apply to all entry and exiting individuals (including freight and fishermen)?
  • how would we manage travellers who decline a test?

“All of thismust be discussed before firm proposals can be submitted to the Scottish Government for consideration,” Dickson continued.

“This is not as simple as some may portray. If it is to be introduced, it must work well so the public can have confidence in it.

“And, if the Scottish Government introduced mandatory testing, it would require a multi-agency partnership across the islands and mainland agencies.”

The idea of testing people coming into the islands has been backed in principle by the council and Shetland’s MSP and MP.

The local branch of the farmers union also created an online petition in support.

At the moment travel into Shetland is for essential purposes only.

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.