Isles FM News: Monday 13th April 2020

CARTRIDGES FOR ISLES COVID-19 TESTING

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil, has written to the Health Secretary and the Scottish Government’s Director of Covid-19 testing, to get testing in the islands, up and running.

Angus MacNeil MP commented:

"All praise to NHS Western Isles who have done everything they needed to do to be ready for testing, including getting equipment in place and training staff. However, due to the lack of cartridges, tests require to be sent to Glasgow.

“What is required now is cartridges which hold the reagents to allow tests to be carried out at NHS Western Isles. This could be a vital window to get testing up and running in the islands, if we hope to replicate the amazing success of the Faroe Islands in staving off the effects of Covid-19. This was achieved by testing and tracing those who have been in contact with those who had the virus.”


PST £40,000 DONATION

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust, has made the biggest one-off donation in its history. The donation of £40,000. was made to NHS Western Isles, in recognition of the heroism of frontline staff and to support islanders suffering during the coronavirus pandemic.

The charity, owns the largest community-owned wind farm in the UK, in terms of output and re-investment.

NHS Western Isles chief executive Gordon Jamieson said:

“We have been overwhelmed and humbled by the generosity of businesses, organisations and individuals across our local communities. They have pulled together to help at the toughest time we have faced in the history of the Health Service.

“The donation from the Point and Sandwick Trust was unexpected and so incredibly generous. I would like to thank the Trust on behalf of our staff and the Health Board. We will be involving our staff in deciding how to make the best demonstrable use of this very kind gesture.”

BROADBAND ACCESS FOR MORE ISLAND HOMES

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has welcomed the move by BT to make ‘adequate and affordable’ broadband, available to more island premises and says such provision, has ‘never been more important’, as communities cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Currently more than 15 per cent of premises in Na h-Eileanan an Iar, do not have access to a fixed line broadband connection, of at least 10Mbps, but there is now a legal right for those eligible, to request the service under the new Universal Service Obligation (USO).

In areas where there is 4G access but no broadband, customers can apply to BT for a home hub.


WARM HOME DISCOUNT

Highlands and Islands (Scottish Labour) MSP, Rhoda Grant has revealed that thousands of homes across the Highlands and Islands may be missing out on the ability to claim the Warm Homes Discount

The discount can result in a reduction of electricity bills over the winter months. The money is paid directly to the suppliers and is a one-off discount on electricity bills, between September and March.

Commenting Rhoda Grant MSP said:

“It’s clear from the Government’s response that the Warm Home Discount scheme is crucial to the Highlands and Islands and this is reflected in the number of claims that are made across the region each year. It is however very concerning that there still might be thousands of people missing out on this discount every year, just because their energy supplier is not a registered participant in the scheme.

“The U.K. Government must support a move towards ensuring mandatory participation of the scheme for all energy suppliers, regardless of customer numbers, to ensure that there is a level playing field and that no household misses out on this valuable discount”.