Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News: Wednesday 13th May 2020


Comhairle nan Eilean is urging people to obey Scottish lockdown laws and not travel to beauty spots in the islands. It follows concerns over mixed and confusing messages after Boris Johnston announced a relaxation of the lockdown south of the border.

Stay at home remains the policy for the other UK nations, including Scotland.
The Guardian newspaper came into the firing line after publishing a photo of Loch Roag in Lewis with the caption: “People will be able to drive to beauty spots from Wednesday” - an option which only applies in England.”
The newspaper has since acknowledged it was wrong to suggest the location was one of the places people could visit.
“Scotland, unlike England, has not lifted restrictions on such non-essential travel,” clarified the paper.
Nicola Sturgeon highlighted Scots should not be “distracted by messages from other parts of the UK.”
A comhairle spokesperson said: “We would remind everyone that in Scotland it is not permissible to drive to beauty spots.
“There are also restrictions on travelling to the islands and we must see these maintained for the continued health of our population.”
Cal Mac also pointed out said: “After the weekend's announcement we would like to remind our customers to stay at home and save lives. Please do not travel unless it is essential.”
“Ferries should only be used for essential supplies or business by those that live on the islands.”



NHS Western Isles has been awarded over €1.46million for projects aimed at supporting the health and wellbeing of those living in the Outer Hebrides.

The funding will be used by NHS Western Isles, in its role in a number of European innovation partnerships, to develop and test new services and technologies in various ways to support health and wellbeing.

The first project relates to ‘ChatPal’, which involves the development of ‘Digital Wellbeing Conversations’ to support and promote mental health and wellbeing. €220,000 will be received for the ChatPal project over three years, to develop and test chatbot technologies. A key objective is to create and pilot a multilingual chatbot service that will provide a digital mental health service supporting project workers and skills coaches.

NHS Western Isles will be working with local stakeholders Western Isles Association for Mental Health, Penumbra and Foyer, to develop such new services to best meet local needs.

€425,000 has been received by NHS Western Isles for the second project, ‘IT4Anxiety’. The key objective of the project is to reduce the anxiety of patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer‘s disease) or post-traumatic stress disorder.

The project, which was funded €8million in total from NWE Europe programme, will focus on the creation and implementation of innovative solutions, in particular those related to digital technology. The project will develop and test technological solutions alongside conventional approaches to address anxiety.

‘mPower, Healthy and Connected Communities Project’ is the third project to receive funding . An additional €1.4 million will be added to the €8.4 million original total partners’ allocation in order to strengthen and extend the shared learning for the local mPower project. The local mPower project has been operational since 2017 and has been successfully building in area of digital health and wellbeing support.

During this time, the local mPower project has created three Community Navigator roles based across the Western Isles, who provide support through Health and Wellbeing Plans for persons facing a range of difficulties affecting their health.



Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has described HIAL's air traffic control centralisation proposals as short sighted and damaging to the Islands’ economy.

HIAL has gone out to tender on its £8.5 million plans to provide the technology for the controversial centralisation of air traffic control.

Chairman of Transportation and Infrastructure, Cllr. Uisdean Robertson, said:
"It frankly beggars belief that HIAL are proceeding with these proposals at a time when air travel is facing such a challenging time. It is short sighted in the extreme when we should all be working together to secure a sustainable future for air travel, tourism and Island economies. As we look to an uncertain future we should be focussing on sustaining island economies rather than centralising services and employment in already prosperous areas of the country.


International Nurses Day is an annual celebration of the crucial work nurses do around the world.

It is especially important in 2020 as they continue to lead the frontline charge against the Coronavirus pandemic.
And the celebrations today are extra special because 2020 has been designated the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.
Communities across the Western Isles are being urged to thank NHS nurses by 'shining a light' at 8pm tonight, in honour of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale ‘The lady with the lamp’.

NHS Western Isles Nurse and AHP Director/Chief Operating Officer, William Findlay commented: “International Day of the Nurse is particularly special this year not just because we mark the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, but because of the extraordinary work all those who have followed in her footsteps are doing in the fight against coronavirus.

“I would like to thank our nurses across the Western Isles for the care they give patients each and every day. Nursing is a large family and right now in our pandemic we are reliant on the expertise of a range of specialist nurses, from infection prevention and control to health protection, as well as our frontline nursing teams. A massive thank you to you all.”



The UK Treasury has rightly today announced the extension of the furlough scheme until the end of September; however, the Chancellor should also remove all the complications which he is introducing to the scheme, says Isles MP Angus MacNeil.


Mr MacNeil has warned that the ultimate ending of the furlough scheme must depend on health needs in each devolved nation and not be guided by the policies chosen in only one nation.

Commenting Mr MacNeil said: “Last night in the virtual Commons I asked for the Treasury support which underpins health needs to be maintained and to follow the needs of all the health policies of each devolved nation. Therefore, the furlough scheme has rightly been extended but it cannot end when the needs of one nation are such that it is not needed.

“Certainly, Treasury support should not be kicked away when the health policy of England dictates it is no longer required in England, this is particularly important after the Prime Ministers confusing divergence from the health policies being followed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“The Chancellor should make clear that any health decision being made in any devolved nation can be made on health grounds alone without his financial penalties.

"We have to make sure the welfare of everyone is looked after, when their government is taking steps for public health.

"Finally, as regards to health, we in Scotland have tasted what health independence is like we just need to taste what independence is like in every other policy area.”