Scottish hospitals taking extra care when Pope visits

By Christine Lavelle

HOSPITAL staff across central Scotland will be on high alert next month as Pope Benedict XVI visits the country.

Fears over the Pontiff’s health have led to every hospital on or near the route he will take between Edinburgh and Glasgow being asked to get ready.

When the Pope makes any visit overseas it is common for one hospital to be designated to him in the event of an emergency, and in Glasgow it is not unusual for this to happen when any high profile VIP visits.

But – it is highly unusual that all hospitals along the route are being placed on alert. Continue reading

Drug deaths on the rise despite decline

By Cara Sulieman

THE NUMBER of drug related deaths in Scotland is going up, despite a decrease in the last year.

Figures published today show that in 2009 there were 545 drug related deaths in Scotland, 29 less than the year before.

But the numbers are the second highest ever recorded by the Register General for Scotland and it looks as though they are going to keep rising.

The vast majority of the deaths were of men, standing at 76 per cent.

The Scottish Government said it was doing its best to make sure the upward trend doesn’t continue and are introducing new drugs to try and reduce the number of drug related deaths.

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Scotland’s drug and drink shame goes back to school

By Michael MacLeod

PARENTS have been blamed for new figures showing at least 550 Scots school pupils are thrown out of class for using drugs or alcohol each year.

Teaching bosses say children living with drink or drug addicted parents are a “sad reflection” of modern childhood.

They claimed living with addicts or dealers causes children to develop their own problems.

New statistics revealed that in the four years up to 2009, almost 2,200 children were excluded from Scottish schools for substance abuse.
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Catholic church anger over abortion figures

By Christine Lavelle

THE Catholic Church says abortion is now being used as an alternative method of contraception among the nation’s school girls.

The warning comes after it was revealed that 71 girls living in the Lothians region aged 15 or under had terminations last year.

The number has reached a five year high, and both the underage pregnancy and abortion rates have risen since the previous year.

While local health chiefs said they are working hard to get the figure down, the revelation has received criticism from the Catholic Church in Scotland.

Spokesman Peter Kennedy said: “The statistics are further evidence of the chronic failure of almost two decades of misguided sexual health strategies in the Lothians. Continue reading

Bar that claimed Ewan Williamson’s life to reopen

The Balmoral Bar after the fire last July

By Cara Sulieman

THE BAR where firefighter Ewan Williamson died tackling a blaze is to be rebuilt and may even house a tribute to the fallen hero.

Plans have been submitted to restore the Balmoral Bar on Dalry Road in Edinburgh almost a year after a fire gutted the building and claimed Ewen’s life.

The owner – Trust Inns – plans to keep the old design and have held discussions about whether or not to place a plaque in memory of 35-year-old Ewan.

He had been with Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service for seven years when he died rescuing people from a blaze at the pub on July 12 last year.

Although around 20 people – including a baby – were evacuated from the building, Ewan tragically lost his life – the first Edinburgh based firefighter to die whilst battling a blaze in living memory.

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Buckfast gets smashed in Stateside caffeine blitz

By Michael MacLeod

BUCKFAST’S notorious reputation has spread to America, where health campaigners are warning of its caffeine content.

The tonic wine – mentioned in 5,000 Strathclyde police crime reports in the past three years – is already under fire from Scottish politicians for containing around 375mg of caffeine per litre.

And now it has been branded as 2010’s “Worst Caffeinated Product” by the Caffeine Awareness Association in the US.

But Buckfast’s makers accused the CAA of jumping on the bandwagon, after a recent BBC documentary which blamed the tonic wine for crime.
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Fife hospital needs to clean up act

By Cara Sulieman

A SCOTS hospital which suffered a series of superbug related deaths has been slammed over its poor hygiene levels in a damning new report.

The Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline, Fife, was slated by inspectors for filthy bedding and dangerously filled bins in a dossier of shame first published today (mon).

The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate said it found that bins earmarked for sharp items had been filled with other waste items, while there were needles protruding from full bins.

During their check visit on January 13 and 14, they were alarmed to find that front line mattresses – including those in A&E – badly contaminated but marked cleaned for use.

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