Scared, isolated older residents unable to get food deliveries, says Edinburgh MP Ian Murray

Ian Murray says he has been inundated with cases of old folk unable to get deliveriesIan Murray says he has been inundated with cases of old folk unable to get deliveries
Ian Murray says he has been inundated with cases of old folk unable to get deliveries
MP says many vulnerable older residents not included in ‘shielded’ category

VULNERABLE old people in Edinburgh who have been told to self-isolate for three months are missing out on home deliveries from supermarkets because of problems with a Scottish Government priority scheme, a city MP has claimed.

Labour’s Ian Murray says the failings of the scheme leave those it is meant to help with no better chance of securing a delivery slot than anyone else.

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The Edinburgh South MP said: “My office has never dealt with so many heart-breaking cases, with scared, isolated and vulnerable residents struggling to receive food deliveries.”

He said his office had been inundated with requests for help from constituents saying they could not get an online delivery slot because they were not formally in the “shielding” category.

One resident, who had been housebound for over 11 years due to severe arthritis and normally relied on two online shops each month, had been unable to find delivery slots in recent weeks and was not part of the Scottish Government scheme.

Others had said they contacted their doctors and were told they did not meet the criteria for “shielding”, including an 87-year-old who had had multiple strokes and a 99-year-old who cannot leave his home.

Several older residents have also contacted the Evening News worried because they were unable to get delivery slots.

Mr Murray said: “The introduction of a complicated scheme to ensure vulnerable people can get supermarket delivery slots was unfortunately mishandled by the Scottish Government, arriving too late and with problems with the system adding to people’s anxiety.

“But it’s now clear there are a huge number of vulnerable residents who don’t meet the ‘shielding’ criteria and urgently need help.”

He said there were around 156,000 people in Scotland in the “shielded” category who have been told not to leave home at all and are supposed to receive “shielding” letters, allowing them to opt into a scheme that guarantees special access to supermarkets.

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But he said the letters did not cover all elderly vulnerable people who are being asked to stay home.

He said his office had been referring cases to charities, local churches and the Viral Kindness Scotland initiative which matches volunteers with local people who need help receiving shopping

He said: “My office staff are working flat-out to help as many people as possible, and it is only through the generosity of volunteers that many of our city’s most vulnerable residents are receiving food deliveries.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said anyone who was at increased risk but not part of the shielded category and who had no family or community support should phone the national phone line on 0800 111 4000.

She said: “We set up the phone line last week so those in this wider vulnerable group can access help for their essential needs. No other part of the UK has done this. We have also launched a service on to help people find available support.

“Unfortunately, supermarkets cannot provide enough delivery slots for this group, so we’re asking the wider community to consider if they need to use an online shop or if they are able to physically go to a shop to free up capacity for those who really need it.”

Giving the latest Covid-19 update, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed another 12 coronavirus deaths in Scotland.

A total of 915 patients have now died in Scotland after testing positive, up from 903 on Sunday.

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She said 8,450 people had tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up 263 from 8,187 the day before.

And there were 169 people in intensive care with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms, a decrease of five on Sunday, she added, with 1,809 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.

Ms Sturgeon said later in the week she would set out some of the factors which would guide the government’s thinking for the future, but warned she would not be saying what measures would be lifted or when. “We are simply not yet in position to take those decisions in a properly informed way and I will not rush to do anything that could risk a resurgence of this virus, because to do that would risk overwhelming the National Health Service and it would put many more lives at risk.”

Meanwhile, a new taxi service to help transport staff and patients to Covid-19 assessment and testing centres has been launched.

NHS Lothian has teamed up with Central Taxis to provide the 24/7 service to people who have symptoms but cannot get to a nearby centre for care and testing.

A team of drivers, who have signed up to provide the service, have all completed training in how to use PPE.

Thirteen black cabs with electric doors will be used to collect passengers from across Edinburgh and the Lothians and ferry them to previously-arranged appointments.

NHS Lothian medical director Dr Tracey Gillies said: “Very often, we are finding that people may have symptoms, but are well and mobile, but for many reasons can’t get to a centre.

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“This taxi service is perfect. People can be collected wherever they are and driven directly to their appointment for the care they need. The drivers sit in a sealed cockpit and they can wear PPE if they choose. The passenger is also given a face mask. At the end of each journey, the cab is cleaned down.”

Murray Fleming, secretary of Central Taxis, said: “We have created a micro fleet within our fleet of taxis specifically to help in the Covid-19 crisis.

“We worked out a way that would allow us to do something to help staff and patients on the frontline. There is minimal contact between the patient and the vehicle because the driver controls the doors. The driver wears PPE and never leaves the cockpit, which has a sealed partition.

“We asked our drivers if anyone would want to join the service and the reaction was really encouraging. Our team are all quite relaxed and very positive about it and they have had the training they need. They all said they wanted to do something to help and join the frontline crews.”

The emergency NHS Louisa Jordan hospital at the Scottish Events Campus (SEC) in Glasgow is now operational, but the Scottish Government says it hopes it will not be needed.

The hospital has an initial capacity for 300 beds, which can be expanded to more than 1,000 if needed. It is named after Glasgow-born First World War nurse Sister Louisa Jordan, who died on active service in Serbia in 1915 as part of Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Services.



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