Call for funding package and increased testing in Inverclyde



Calls are being made for a special funding package and localised community testing to combat coronavirus in Inverclyde, which has become the COVID-19 capital of Scotland. 

Inverclyde, the most deprived area of Scotland, has the highest death rate in the country due to Coronavirus according to the latest National Records of Scotland statistics.

The local authority area had 120 deaths per 100,000 people – nearly three times that of people in the least deprived areas, with the death rate 50 in neighbouring East Renfrewshire and 43 in East Dunbartonshire. 

The figures are twice that of Glasgow (59), which has the fourth-highest number of deaths, and well above West Dunbartonshire with the second-highest total (79).

The findings have lead to calls for a targeted package of support for the most vulnerable as well as increased testing to within the community in order that people that have come into contact with those testing positive for COVID-19 can be traced and then isolated to avoid the spread of the virus. 

Chirs McEleny, the SNP’s leader in the local authority area, has said that unless a system to allow testing within the community is implemented, uptake for testing will remain low and the virus will take longer to eradicate.

He said: “At the moment the only testing available within the area is for health and social care workers. Other key workers such as police, council staff and shop workers are being asked to travel upwards of a 90-mile round trip depending on availability.

“There is no testing available for anyone else in the community. Unless we implement a simple system, that’s easy to access, of community testing, we won’t know who’s infected, we won’t be able to trace everyone they’ve been in contact with, and without being able to isolate those people the virus will not be brought under control as quickly as it can be.“ 

In January of this year, in the updated Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) - a measure considering seven criteria including income and health - parts of Greenock town centre were ranked the most deprived area in Scotland, with Inverclyde being ranked the most deprived area in the country. 

Mr McEleny says that the latest figures released by NRS add weight to his calls for a special support package to be given to his area and other deprived communities across Scotland. 

He said: “All of the emergency funding and resources already announced must reach people in need as soon as possible. 

“We already know that evidence shows there is a strong link between low skills, poor education, poor health, unemployment and poverty. More attention needs to be given to the prevention of poverty and tackling root causes. The Scottish Government should give serious consideration to creating a special deprivation fund for areas with high levels of deprivation. People have said the Coronavirus doesn’t discriminate but it’s clear that it’s discriminating against people in deprived communities across Scotland.”

Inverclyde Council Provost Martin Brennan said: “The latest statistics released by the National Records of Scotland make yet more sad reading for Inverclyde.

“The statistical report is important as it can help to drive public policy and make sure that resources and action are being targetted at the right parts of the country.

“As a community we must never forget that we have lost 93 members of the Inverclyde community to this virus. These are all family, friends, colleagues and neighbours who are grieving right now at the loss of a loved one.”

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