£500 bonus for health and social care staff

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has today announced a one-off payment for Scotland’s lifesavers and care-givers on the frontline throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

A pro rated payment of £500 will be made as soon as is practicable to all NHS and social care workers employed since 17 March 2020 – including staff who have had to shield, or who have since retired.

This investment of around £180 million will see over 300,000 staff gain some benefit from this bonus, including nurses, porters, doctors, primary care staff, homecare workers, care home staff, hospice staff and residential child care staff.


The pro rata £500 bonus scheme, which will be funded from the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 support package, applies to employees employed since March 17, for:

All NHS Employees, including: 

  • staff who have been active in the NHS since 17 March 2020 but who have since left NHS employment, including retirees
  • staff who accepted and worked on temporary contracts since 17 March to aid pandemic response but who have since left NHS employment, including students who worked under temporary contracts but who have since returned to University
  • staff covered by the Two Tier Agreement
  • General Practitioners and their practice teams, including 2C practices

Staff providing NHS services under independent contractor arrangements including:

  • GP surgery staff
  • NHS Dental surgery staff
  • NHS pharmacy services staff
  • NHS optometry staff

Staff working in Adult Social Care including:

  • Care home staff
  • Homecare staff
  • Palliative care/hospice staff
  • Adult Personal Assistants
  • Social care staff in residential child care settings
  • Social Workers (including those working with children and families and in criminal justice)

Medical cannabis under prescription

The time for talking is over

While COVID-19 remains active in our community we are required to make adjustments to our daily routines so we can continue to function to the best of our abilities. But we also have one eye on life after COVID-19 with the promise of a vaccine that can counter the virus. When or even if that will happen, we don’t know, but it is possible and even probable. However, could you imagine being in the position where that vaccine already existed and had been proved to work but we were being denied it. Instead we were told that it was too expensive, and we would have to continue with life as it is, including the risk of contracting the virus and dying. That’s unimaginable, isn’t it? And yet we have a similar situation right now in the United Kingdom. There are people living in the United Kingdom, many of whom are children, with forms of epilepsy that result in damaging seizures day in day out. These seizures can severely restrict their quality of life. Their condition is not curable, but it is treatable. We know this because some have been fortunate enough to access the medicine required to treat their condition. Unfortunately, many have not and in the current climate they are not likely to. Let me be absolutely clear the medicine exists and it can be prescribed and accessed by people living in the United Kingdom, it just isn’t because we have tied ourselves in knots, legally and ethically. Nobody will take responsibility for the chaos, rather they continue to point the finger at each other. If this was COVID-19 with the dangers that carries to all the population, I believe those same people would be working on a solution rather than blocking access to one.  

Two years ago. we changed the schedule for cannabis to include it in the ‘has medical benefit’ criteria. And two years on medical cannabis is still not being accessed on the NHS free by those that need it, with two exceptions. In Northern Ireland Billy Caldwell is having his private prescription paid for by the state and in England, Alfie Dingley is also having his prescription paid for. While absolutely nobody begrudges them their safe, legal, effective supply, many others are less fortunate and are instead being passed from pillar to post. The fact that two children are receiving it only goes to prove that it is possible. The current health systems, operating within the current legal position, can provide medical cannabis free. So why isn’t it?  

I can’t believe it is a lack of motivation. Surely, we don’t need a child to die before we take action. And I refuse to believe it is too expensive. If COVID has taught us anything it’s that when needs must we can take swift effective action and we can find the money required to facilitate change. If it’s not motivation or money is it just incompetence? After all this is not a new situation. We can’t claim to have been blindsided by the current pandemic.  

Whether we like it or not the fact remains that if the individuals that would benefit from medical cannabis had the money, they could legally purchase it. If they don’t have the money then they go without. That is unacceptable.  

What has to happen before the log jam is broken? Does a parent have to publicly cradle a dying child in their arms before common sense prevails and those that can make this happen, do so? We need to focus on the problem and recognise that the solution is staring them in the face. The medicine exists, prescriptions can be provided and if the the funding is made available, then the solution is within our grasp. Two years of promises has served nobody well, warm words have failed to produce the goods, it’s now time for positive, decisive, life changing action.

Ronnie Cowan MP

Vice-chair of All-party parliamentary group on medical cannabis under prescription

Greenock Telegraph 20th November 2020

During the Covid-19 pandemic governments around the globe have had to take many difficult decisions. Getting the right balance between protecting citizens health and supporting the economy has been amongst the hardest. And more specifically, deciding how money should be allocated to best support the economy is a minefield of complexities. There is no way to triage individual organisations and companies to decide which ones are viable and which ones are not. Instead assistance has been offered across sectors and some will have benefited more than others. And having said that, there had to be an evaluation process. Not just, how many livelihoods depend on a sector, although the importance of that should never be underestimated but what contribution does it make to our society. And that’s a hard call but I want to talk up the need to support our creative sector. Those that work in music, art and drama. A precarious existence at the best of times. Many have been excluded from any assistance during this crisis. I have often championed Basic Income and I have seen an increased need for one this year and not just in the creative sector. A sector whose value is often underestimated or taken for granted. Trying to judge how much pleasure, stimulation, motivation and inspiration we draw from a book, a painting, a play, a photograph and the myriad of other contributions that creatives provide, is impossible. But we know it happens. I know that at a personal level I turn to music, art and literature for comfort and strength. But Beethovens, McCartneys, Hemingways and Pratchetts don’t grow on trees, we need to invest in many if we are to enjoy the fruits of a few.

Hopefully, we shall soon be coming to terms with life post COVID and while we rightly thank the frontline workers for all their hard work and dedication while keeping us physically safe and well, it would be remiss to not acknowledge the creatives for nurturing our souls and safeguarding our mental health at this time too. 

Written question – Medical cannabis [17/11/2020]

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department (a) is taking to improve access to medicinal cannabis for people living with multiple sclerosis and (b) if he will publish a Government strategy for improving access to medicinal cannabis. (109474)

Tabled on: 30 October 2020

Jo Churchill:

Two prescription medicines – Sativex – for the treatment of spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis patients, and Epidyolex – for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare forms of epilepsy, have been made available for prescribing on the National Health Service, where clinically appropriate. This follows clear demonstrated evidence of their safety, and clinical and cost effectiveness.

We continue to work hard with the health system, industry and researchers to improve the evidence base for other cannabis-based medicines, and to implement the recommendations of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s review on barriers to accessing unlicensed cannabis based medicinal products. This includes the design of clinical trials and the establishment of a national patient registry.

The answer was submitted on 17 Nov 2020 at 13:43.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): local protection levels

The news that Inverclyde shall remain at level 3 is welcomed. There was an argument that could have meant that we were moved to level 4 and had that decision been made, then of course we would have respected it but we were not and we must now set our target as level 2.

Level 3 will help many local businesses but unfortunately not all. We must act as individuals in a responsible fashion to protect our community and ensure that we do not place a greater burden on the NHS and all frontline workers. That is the path to level 2. Please be patient, be strong and we shall all get there together.

As always, please follow F.A.C.T.S – wear a face covering; avoid crowded places; clean hands and surfaces regularly; stay 2m away from other people and self-isolate and book a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

Please visit https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-protection-levels and https://www.inverclyde.gov.uk/covid-19 for more information.