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Also in the news / NHS graduates, healthy living fund, patient travel changes, more coastal funding, fish farm review and more…

Jenny Irvine (left) and Sophie Wishart (right) celebrating in a somewhat different graduation ceremony in Lerwick.

NHS Shetland says it is “incredibly proud” after two staff members graduated from university with first class honours in radiography.

Sophie Wishart and Jenny Irvine recently graduated from Robert Gordon University.

Sophie was also awarded the Golden Jubilee Award for Best Performance and Jenny was awarded the Society of Radiographers Membership Award.

During the heart of the Covid pandemic, Sophie and Jenny joined NHS Shetland’s bank staff and worked as assistant practitioners for the whole of lockdown.

Following a short period away for lectures and exams, they returned to their posts until qualifying.

They are now working as qualified radiographers at NHS Shetland.

PEOPLE living on Scottish islands will soon benefit from a new fund to influence healthier lifestyles on the islands through community-led wellness initiatives.

The Healthy Islands Fund will help to deliver these initiatives with £1.3 million of funding from the Scottish Government.

The government said the fund will focus on building local capacity to increase well-being, foster connections and promote healthy and resilient islanders and communities – helping them to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Islands secretary Mairi Gougeon, who is currently visiting Orkney, said: “We believe that community groups such as sports clubs, mental health service providers and other local island-based partners are best placed to convene and co-produce ideas for grant funding, so local ‘ownership’ is being built into the Healthy Islands Fund from the outset.”

Details of how to apply will be announced soon.

SOME changes have been made to how travel arrangements are approved for an escort travelling with a Shetland patient to the Scottish mainland for medical care.

NHS Shetland GPs will no longer be responsible for reviewing and authorising escorts for patients who are travelling off island for medical care. Those who wish to request an escort can now do so through the patient travel department.

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The form for requesting an escort has also been updated and patients are asked to complete the form with all information relevant to their request. A lack of information may lead to a request being refused. This form will be emailed to a patient or their carer by the patient travel department when needed.

For some groups of patients, the need for an escort will be reviewed by an appropriate clinician and they will not have to contact the patient travel department. Groups of patients who fall under this category include:

  • Maternity patients – midwives will authorise escorts if required;
  • Oncology patients – oncology nurses will authorise escorts if required;
  • Patients who have a pre-assessment in Shetland, prior to a procedure on the mainland, will have their need for an escort reviewed as part of the pre-assessment process.

More information on the criteria can be found here.

A FUND designed to support local regeneration and sustainable development around Scotland’s coast has today opened for a second round of applications.

To align with Scotland-wide activity related to the COP26 climate change conference, this year’s applicants to the Sustainable Communities Fund will be asked to show how their work will help deliver net zero.

Full details on the application process and how grants will be allocated can be found here. The scheme is administered by Crown Estate Scotland.

AN INDEPENDENT review of how fish farms are regulated is underway to make Scottish aquaculture legislation more effective and transparent.

Professor Russel Griggs OBE has been appointed to lead the first phase of the review.

Rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon said while the sector provides vital jobs, “reports and parliamentary activity over the last few years have made clear that the regulatory landscape is contentious and there is a need for improved efficiency, effectiveness and transparency”.

FIBRE broadband cables could be fed through water pipes as part of the UK Government’s plan to speed up the nationwide roll out of “lightning-fast” broadband and mobile coverage in rural areas.

A total of £4 million is available for “cutting-edge innovators” to trial what could be a quicker and more cost-effective way of connecting fibre optic cables to homes, businesses and mobile masts right across the UK, without the disruption caused by digging up roads and land.

Digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman said: “The cost of digging up roads and land is the biggest obstacle telecoms companies face when connecting hard-to-reach areas to better broadband, but beneath our feet there is a vast network of pipes reaching virtually every building in the country.

“So we are calling on Britain’s brilliant innovators to help us use this infrastructure to serve a dual purpose of serving up not just fresh and clean water but also lightning-fast digital connectivity.”

NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has blasted news that regulator Ofgem is increasing the UK’s energy price cap by £139.

He said the typical gas and electricity customer is likely to see their bill go up by £139 to £1,277 a year.

The MP said: “Ofgem talks about rising wholesale prices and that may be true but it never appears to stop energy suppliers making enormous profits, particularly on generation rather than retail.

“Meanwhile those at the margins disproportionately pay the price.”

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