By Lucy Ashton
Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton constituency, has written to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Humza Yousaf, following reports that local testing facilities have run out of PCR tests.
She was contacted by a number of constituents informing her that a testing facility in Helensburgh had run out of PCR tests and were diverting members of the public to Dumbarton and Old Kilpatrick.
It is understood that the 300 tests allocated to Helensburgh ran out last week.
Jackie Baillie MSP said: “At a time when our local positive case numbers are rocketing, it is unthinkable that local testing hubs are running out of tests.
“Many local people, either with symptoms or asymptomatic close contacts, are being forced to travel a greater distance than necessary to access vital tests. This also puts them in contact with far more other people than they should be.
“I have written urgently to Humza Yousaf asking for both an explanation for this shortage and for urgent supplies to be given to these hubs.
“It is of the utmost importance that any local person who is in need of a PCR is able to access one quickly and easily.”
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie.
Meanwhile, a vaccination clinic has been set up to provide COVID vaccinations for newly arrived asylum seekers.
The clinic, which welcomed the first vaccination patients to its base in Govan last Friday, is part of the Asylum Health Bridging Team which provides a range of health services to some of Scotland’s most vulnerable communities.
Craig Davidson, a senior nurse within the team, helped to administer the first vaccines at the clinic. He said: “People have been really positive about getting access to the vaccine – to protect them and the wider community. We want to make sure that asylum seekers get the same access to health care and the COVID vaccine as the rest of the population.”
The clinic is targeting asylum seekers who have recently arrived in Glasgow, in the four to six week window where the team can offer assistance before patients’ asylum journey progresses. An initial health assessment can take up to 90 minutes, looking at physical illnesses and conditions and to provide mental health and trauma support.
The team also support people who may have been victims of trafficking and women who may have been subject to abuse or FGM. After the initial assessment is over, patients are invited back to the clinic for the COVID vaccination, with accommodation provider Mears, arranging transport.
Craig added: “It’s about building trust. We support them through the traumatic experience they have been through and at least 95% have been through a traumatic journey just to get to the UK.”
The clinic was the brainchild of Stewart Curtis, team leader at the service. While asylum seekers already established in accommodation were targeted as part of earlier COVID vaccination outreach programmes, or able to access their jab through community clinics, Stewart recognised that not everyone could do the same.
He said: “The people we are seeing don’t know the community, they don’t know where to go. I wouldn’t even try to imagine what some of our service users have left behind and what some of them have gone through just to get here.
We’re the first point of NHS contact for them. We are that friendly face and space, somewhere they feel comfortable and we can have the vaccination clinic here, where people know us and feel they are in a safe and supportive environment.”
Stewart said his team have welcomed the opportunity to add the vaccine to the range of support services on offer.
He added: “I know the positive impact my staff are having on each individual’s life that comes through the door – that makes me really proud.”
Craig has also seen the benefits. He said: “I began my nursing career in May 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. I used to work in a ward treating patients who had COVID and dealing with a high level of death and trauma was, for me, really hard. It’s great to see this side with people who are so pleased to get the vaccine in the knowledge that it will protect them and the wider community.”