Eva Comrie is a solicitor specialising in children’s cases, or put formally: accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as a specialist in family law and also in child law. Her area of operation is Clackmannanshire, Falkirk and Stirling. Not the only law practitioner to go to press with their concerns, she has published a number of articles over past testing months on the problems of handling children’s cases in her area while labouring under pandemic restrictions, her reports highlighting what she experiences issuing from the “poor attention to detail of the Scottish Government”. A below the knee amputee, (LBK) she knows the problems intimately that affect the Scottish health service. A former active member of the SNP disillusioned by their highly contentious policies and slothful stroll to self-governance, she switched to the ALBA party, a courageous act considering the ALBA party has yet to acquire a solid powerbase.
by Eva Comrie
You’ve seen the figures for Scottish deaths from Covid-19; amongst the worst in the world and the positive case numbers are the highest in Europe. There are reasons for this, not the least of which are the obvious strategy of following the 4 Nations approach, refusing to close borders and ports, being feart to depart from Boris’ line and moving positively tested patients into nursing homes. The early abandonment of test, trace and isolate was wrong – I said so then, in March 2020, and got pelters for it.
My Dad was in hospital repeatedly over 2020 and though he never had Covid, was never in a Covid ward, there were patients in his wards who had Covid. Contrary to advice tendered, wards were mixed; some ambulance personnel refused to wear masks and gloves, including those contracted by Forth Valley Hospital privately. My family’s loud complaints were useless after the fact of a deadly virus. PPE supplies didn’t run out, but at times were in jeopardy.
Courts were not prepared at all. Not at all. No social distancing, no hand wash, no masks; just busy courts full of folk mingling. Then when the guillotine fell on 23rd March the courts were closed; some have barely reopened since and justice, especially for those on remand, and for families, and children in care, has suffered, to the great shame of a country which considers itself modern, civilised and progressive.
The presence of Covid-19 in Scotland, its virulence, its murderous nature – all of that was known at least since February when skiers and rugby fans were exposed; our FM knew about pandemics because she was previously our Health Secretary.
What prep was there in public life or in the NHS for Covid-19? Seems like not so much from what I saw then. Even when there was a requirement for patients aged 70+ to be tested on admission to hospital, that was not extended to patients already in hospital; some patients were allowed visits from relatives not wearing masks, other patients were denied visits and were given life changing information, including death sentences, while alone without a close relative for solace.
Carers employed by private companies drove around teams, in panic, on overtime, delivering aprons, masks and gloves. I was in hospital in Glasgow after first lockdown and barely any staff had as much as a mask; there were shared pens, for inane form-filling, no hand sanitiser and yet only urgent appointments were conducted so that for many months standard diagnostic matters have been ditched.
We’re paying a bigger and unnecessary price for this lack of preparation now – many of us have not been able to see a GP on time or get a referral for a health issue when further assessments are desirable so that problems have been stored up and issues have developed through ignorance and delay.
Folk with life threatening cancers now could have lived had they been seen last year; mental health patients might not be contemplating suicide had they had therapy before now; I’m a minor player in the game as I’ve just been waiting for an MOT on the leg for 18 months. I will get a couple of new ones, but the parts are delayed because of Brexit.
I am not a fan of the notion that Independence comes when Covid-19 is gone. Am I wheech. And here’s another reason – the Scottish drugs death statistics are due soon, unless they are massaged and delayed once more. (1,264 people died in Scotland through drugs last year.) Most of us on or near the front line fear this year will be worse. And that remains Scotland’s shame.
One hundred and more years ago folk like my Grandad was born into poverty in Lochee and Clackmannanshire but saw a way out through Army service; later in mines and heavy industry. Nowadays the descendants of their peers see no hope. It is very hard to be optimistic in Scotland today; we’ve become jaded, scared, isolated with a government telling us we have to hang onto the coat tails of Westminster for a while yet.
If we need Westminster to recover from Covid, isn’t that a white flag? A sign that we in Scotland believe that we cannot stand up for ourselves, cure ourselves, create our own futures, liberate ourselves, craft our own dreams, ambitions, aims and aspirations?
It is time, Scotland – time to stand up, get off our knees.