Isles FM News: Tuesday 21st April 2020


Immunisation appointments for children and pregnant women are continuing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Scheduled immunisations are an important and legitimate medical reason to leave your house, and people who have an immunisation appointment should attend as planned. If an individual with an upcoming immunisation appointment - or a member of their household – is showing symptoms of COVID-19, then they must not attend, but should call the number on their invitation to rearrange the appointment.

Dr Gregor Smith, Interim Chief Medical Officer, said “We’re grateful to everyone for heeding our Stay Home Save Lives message during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the NHS is still open, and the routine vaccination programme is an important way to protect you and your family’s health.

“It is important we continue to protect children and other vulnerable groups against serious vaccine-preventable diseases. Routine immunisations for children and pregnant women are a crucial way we can help keep people safe and healthy at this time.

Dr Maggie Watts, Director of Public Health for NHS Western Isles, said “We are encouraging all parents and guardians of children, and all pregnant women to attend their scheduled immunisation appointments at their GP practice. If you cannot attend because you or your family are showing symptoms of coronavirus, please call your GP practice to rearrange this appointment.”


The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is now open for applications and Isles MP Angus B MacNeil is sharing the step-by-step guide which details the information that employers need to provide to HMRC to make a claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Businesses to claim up to 80% of each affected employee’s salary, to a cap of £2,500 per month.
Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said: “There is no doubt that businesses are under pressure during this pandemic and with April’s payday fast approaching, it is good to see that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is now open for applications.
“It is essential that the application process runs smoothly to avoid adding further pressure to businesses.


Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Instrumental Music Service provides music tuition, in a range of instruments, for pupils in every primary and secondary school throughout the island chain, from Lionel in the north right down to Castlebay in the south.

A blog has been created for the Instrumental Music Service and this contains full information and instructions on how to access and set up Glow, Teams and Vscene, contact details for all Instrumental Music service staff, and in time the blog will also contain other information & news from the music service.
Every primary school has tuition in Gaelic Singing and Piping, and other instruments are taught in primary and secondary schools - dependent on the resources available in each local area. In addition to this, tuition is delivered through the Youth Music Initiative (YMI) to enable the Comhairle to meet the Scottish Government commitment that every child in school will have received one year of music tuition by the time they leave primary school.
During the school closures the CnES Instrumental Music Service will continue to provide instrumental music tuition via video lessons using Vscene. Our Instrumental Music Teachers have set up class teams for their pupils in each school using Microsoft Teams, which is available through Glow. This will be the method of communication between staff & pupils and resources & lesson timetables will be posted on those platforms for the pupils to access. All pupils in our schools have a Glow username, email address and password and will be able to access Teams once logged into Glow. If your child is unsure of their Glow details they should contact their school in the first instance for help.

Rhona Johnstone, Musical Development Officer, said: “The Western Isles has a rich cultural heritage and a wealth of musical talent exists amongst those in our schools and living in our communities. Over the years the islands have produced a host of great musicians, many of whom have gone on to become well known household names.
“During the current period of lockdown we are keen to continue the work that normally takes place with the pupils in our schools. We hope that our pupils will progress with their music lessons during this time and continue to develop their musicals skills and experiences.
“With the creation of the blog we look forward to providing you with all the information you need to know about the service and share some of the fantastic work that our pupils achieve with the support of our Instrumental Music Teachers.”


Too many jobs are being stripped from rural and vulnerable areas under the SNP’s Centralisation Policies according to Highlands and Islands Regional MSP Rhoda Grant.

In the latest blow to the Highlands and Islands, HIAL is proposing to centralise its Air Traffic Control services to a Hub in Inverness, affecting airports from Benbecula to Lerwick, and leaving some of the most peripheral and vulnerable airports in Scotland being monitored by remote controllers using screens.

But enterprising islanders have set up a petition calling for plans to be halted, at the very least until an Islands’ Impact Assessment is completed in accordance with the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018.

Rhoda Grant, who has been speaking out against the plans since they were first muted almost 5 years ago said: “HIAL’s proposals are not only heavily reliant on robust and reliable infrastructure which is not currently in place, but they rely on a system which is untested to the level of traffic and the geographical area that HIAL want to implement it across.

“Of even greater concern, is the blasé way in which HIAL and the SNP are happy to strip high quality jobs from some of our most fragile areas. These losses will result in whole families leaving areas already rife with depopulation and have a decimating impact.”



NHS Western Isles has been inundated with incredibly kind donations from across our communities of various items, including monetary donations, hand sanitizers and creams, personal protective equipment, offers of accommodation, vehicles, snacks, and offers of assistance.

NHS Western Isles is incredibly grateful for all these donations and are thankful to our local communities for their kindness and thoughtfulness at this difficult time. Each donation means a lot to our staff, who remain at work so you can stay at home.

Our intention as an organisation is to ensure that your kind donations reach the right individuals within NHS Western Isles, including our community staff and support staff such as domestics, porters, catering staff and pharmacy. For this reason, we would ask that any future donations are made through a central point by emailing Colin Gilmour who is coordinating donations This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will ensure they are fairly distributed.

Should you wish to specify where you would like your donation to go within the organisation, we will of course ensure that your wish is honoured.

Whilst donations are hugely appreciated at this time, NHS Western Isles would also remind members of our community that the main thing our frontline staff need above all else from you is for you to stay at home and follow social distancing rules. This is the one thing you can do to help that will help keep our frontline staff safe and will ultimately protect the local NHS and will save lives.

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson said: “I am lost for words in terms of how generous individuals, businesses and groups have been. Our community has pulled together in an incredible way, and has helped demonstrate to our key workers that we are all in this together and that we are here for one another.