The Autumn Journal, Environmental Health Scotland is now available in the members section of the website.
Notice is hereby given that the Institute’s Annual General Meeting will be held in hybrid format on Friday 17 November 2023 at 2.00pm at at the Edinburgh Training and Conference Venue, 16 St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SU, or remotely by MS Teams.
Members will receive further details included with their AGM papers which will be sent out in October. The election of members to the Council will take place at the AGM. If any member wishes to make a proposal at the AGM, please contact the Chief Executive by 28 September 2023.
Protecting and improving public health is a fundamental objective of Environmental Health and the work of both REHIS and SOCOEHS. Recognising the contributions of our colleague, Martin Keeley, who sadly passed away in 2022, an award has been established to recognise individuals, groups or organisations for actions which have significantly promoted or improved Environmental Health (this can be for single element or wider environmental health).
In response to the recent article in the Daily Record on 24 July 2023, The Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland, often referred to by the acronym REHIS, is the Professional Institute for Environmental Health in Scotland, responded as follows.
The delivery of the Environmental Health Service in Scotland lies primarily with Scotland’s local authorities with Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) carrying the responsibility of many statutory roles. EHOs are public health professionals, educated to degree level and professionally qualified. Their primary objective is to improve and protect the health of Scotland’s people.
The Institute is the awarding body for the qualification which permits an individual to work as an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) and Food Safety Officer (FSO) in Scotland. To qualify as an EHO in Scotland requires academic study, structured professional practice, and completion of a professional examination.
Student EHOs are required to achieve a BSc (Hons) accredited degree in Environmental Health and follow this by attaining the REHIS Diploma in Environmental Health. The current accredited course is the BSc (Hons) in Environmental Health with Professional Practice at the University of the West of Scotland. The REHIS Diploma requires 48 weeks practical training (which is now integrated into the degree programme) followed by the submission of a portfolio and then oral examinations covering all areas of Environmental Health.
The route to qualifying to be an EHO provides a clear, evidenced qualification which shows the level of skills and knowledge an officer holds. This is vital when giving advice and guidance to business and particularly when enforcement action, which may result in legal court proceedings, is taken. One of the unique elements of the profession is that EHOs can take a holistic view of a situation to determine impact on public health.
The Institute recognised that aspiring EHOs might have completed Honours or Masters degree programmes in relevant subject areas earlier in their career and might not be in a position to return to full-time education to complete the accredited degree programme. An Alternative Route has been established which allows individuals with relevant qualifications and experiences to apply for an assessment of these, to determine whether they have the requisite knowledge to pursue the professional EHO qualification. Such professionals may be required to complete additional academic learning and further practical experience but could progress to the professional examination without completing the entire accredited route.
The Institute also operates the Scottish Food Safety Officers Registration Board (SFSORB) which awards the Higher Certificate in Food Practice, the professional qualification required to practice as a Food Safety Officer (FSO) and carry out food law official controls in the UK.
The Institute, whilst committed to maintaining and enhancing the professional standards and qualifications of the Environmental Health workforce in Scotland, is concerned with the current challenges facing local authority Environmental Health workforce. It is recognised, that whilst there are improvements made with the integrated degree programme and the alternative route, it will take some years to resolve the situation. The Institute continues to work with national partners including the Society of Chief Officers of Environmental Health in Scotland, the Scottish Government, and Skills Development Scotland, to promote and attract candidates to the profession to ensure a sustainable workforce to meet the national public health need right now and for the future.
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The Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland would like to express our deep sadness at the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Our thoughts and condolences are with the Royal Family.
The evidence base behind Clean Air Day, the UK’s largest campaign on air pollution by Global Action Plan, today reveals the weight of scientific evidence has strengthened, thereby allowing the organisation to publicly confirm for the first time that air pollution can impact every organ in the body.
The relationship between air pollution and our health has been studied for decades. However, 2022 is the first year Global Action Plan’s review of the evidence base, which is approved by a number of expert bodies, has been able to confirm that air pollution can have health impacts on every major organ in the body, can shorten our lives, contribute towards chronic illness and put us more at risk from COVID-19. When we breathe polluted air, it can inflame the lining of our lungs, moving into our bloodstream ending up in the heart and brain, causing lung disease, heart disease, dementia, strokes, and cancer.
As part of Global Action Plan’s ongoing measurement of public attitudes and behaviours around air pollution in partnership with Opinium, survey data (conducted in June 2022) shows the lack of public awareness on the extent of the health impacts of air pollution. Poor air quality dirties every organ in the body, but Brits only connect it with lung related health issues.
· Nearly half (49%) of people think air pollution is connected to worsening of asthma symptoms and 46% to development of asthma.
· 44% also rightly connect it to poor lung function development, 42% bronchitis, and 35% lung cancer.
· Only 12% of Brits associate it with strokes, 10% with dementia, and 18% poor brain development.
While public understanding on the health impacts of air pollution is imperative, it is also important that people understand there are actions they can take to decrease air pollution.
Global Action Plan’s Clean Air Day campaign explains the health impacts, but also showcases the simple steps we can all take to reduce the air pollution we cause and the positive impact that taking action will have for us and our wider community. Whilst these actions are important to give people the agency to tackle air pollution, the campaign also recognises the crucial role that decision makers play in creating clean air communities for all.
Public Health Scotland has launched a new learning hub dedicated to challenging weight stigma.
The hub is an evidence based online resource, aimed at increasing awareness of weight stigma, its impact, as well as identifying actions that can be taken to address it.
It has been informed by a wide array of experts from a range of sectors, including people with lived experience of higher weight and weight stigma.
Aimed primarily at those who work in health and social care, public sector, third sector and community-based organisations; the hub provides content in sections with animations, video and support to take the learning into practice. The hub is free, and can be easily accessed by anyone interested in weight stigma.
Experience of weight stigma impacts on peoples mental and physical health, can create barriers to access services, and compromise wider public health efforts to prevent and treat obesity.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Police Scotland and Glasgow City Council have welcomed the sentencing of Declan Clarke (30) at Glasgow Sheriff Court, for large-scale fly-tipping offences across the city, particularly in the Drumchapel and Gartloch areas.
Clarke was sentenced on Wednesday 8 June 2022 to 11 months imprisonment.
He originally pleaded guilty on Thursday, 21 April, 2022, after being accused of dumping more than 51 tonnes of tyres and household waste at a number of sites in June and October 2020.
Mr Clarke collected tyres from garages for a fee and hired workers and vans to dispose of them in car parks and empty land.
Most of the tyres were dumped at Dalsetter Crescent in Drumchapel which was consumed in a fire on 24 July, 2020. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard the fire caused so much smoke it disrupted flights at Glasgow Airport. Two days later, Glasgow City Council workers cleared the remnants and found the debris consisted of 51 tonnes of tyres and 17 tonnes of household waste.
In addition, about 500 tyres were also dumped at Gartloch Farm, near Gartcosh to the east of Glasgow, in a two-week period in October 2020, with more deposited there on one day the following month.
Wildlife cameras installed at the farm after previous fly-tipping incidents captured Mr Clarke, using several different hire vans, dumping tyres on 12 occasions. He was eventually caught after the farm’s owner spotted Mr Clarke and a boy trying to free a van stuck in mud in one of his fields.
Furthermore, other tyres were left around the Drumchapel area at Drummore Road, Glenkirk Drive and the Donald Dewar Centre.
Police searched Clarke’s home on 20 November, 2020 and found him hiding under a bed. They also discovered a key for another hire van, which was parked outside his flat and found to be full of tyres. A mobile phone seized contained messages between Clarke and owners of garages and tyre fitters which discussed collecting the tyres. The messages appeared to indicate that Clarke was charging £1-£2 per tyre.
Prosecutors said the cost of cleaning up Dalsetter Crescent was £7,245.16, while the estimated cost of cleaning up Gartloch Farm was £120,000 and a further £2,800 to dispose of the remaining tyres.
Sentencing Clarke, Sheriff John McCormick said his actions constituted “fly-tipping on an industrial scale” at a number of locations. “The photographs and videos I saw spoke volumes,” he said. The sheriff said Clarke continued to dump “tens of tonnes of tyres” even after he knew he was a suspect. It was “not a victimless crime”, he added, as there was a cost to the public purse and landowners also had to make a “substantial” contribution to having the debris cleared.
Kath McDowall, Unit Manager at SEPA’s Serious Environmental Crime Team, said: “Waste crime has a serious and detrimental impact on our environment, communities and compliant businesses. Criminals see waste as a money-making enterprise and we work closely with partners to share information and work together to use the best powers to tackle this behaviour. We were pleased to work alongside Police Scotland in the detection and disruption of this significant waste offence, which has resulted in a sentence we hope will act as a deterrent to others.
“SEPA will continue to work closely with partners to tackle persistent non-compliance and criminal activity related to waste tyres, which have the potential to release hazardous substances into the environment if set on fire and are a blight on the landscape if not treated, recycled or disposed of properly.”
Sergeant Nigel McDonald, from Drumchapel police station, said: “Declan Clarke was an opportunistic criminal using his illegitimate business to collect tonnes of rubbish for a fee before just dumping them across the city.
“Not only did this end up costing significant sums for the authorities to clear up, but there has been serious and long-lasting environmental damage to a number of areas where tyres or waste were heaped and set on fire.
“It is sadly highly unusual for fly-tipping cases like this to result in a custodial sentence, but it goes some way to show the seriousness of Clarke’s repeated offences. I’d like to thank our partners at Glasgow City Council and SEPA for their efforts as part of our joint-investigation into this matter.”
Stephen Egan, Glasgow City Council’s Head of Parks and Streetscene, said: “This was a shocking example of fly-tipping and we welcome the outcome of this case.
“We had to divert significant resources to clear up the waste dumped by this individual and the subsequent fire was clearly dangerous and detrimental to the local environment. As has been shown by this case, someone guilty of fly-tipping is often just the tip of the iceberg.
“The garages and other businesses that passed their waste to this individual will have known the deal being offered was too good to be true and should have made sure their waste was disposed of lawfully.
“To protect our shared environment we all have a responsibility to dispose of our waste in the proper manner at all times.”
A new practice development hub for reducing inequalities is now available on the PHS Virtual Learning Environment. Primarily for those in public service roles, it aims to improve skills and day to day working practice so that action can be taken to reduce inequalities.
Scotland’s public services have a duty to reduce inequalities and help create a society where everyone can thrive. This resource provides practice improvement support for making services inclusive, strengthening partnership working and community advocacy.
This hub has been designed as a flexible resource where individuals can select sections most relevant to their learning needs and source information about how to integrate actions in their daily work.
Vicky Bibby, Director of Strategic Planning and Performance, PHS said:
“Understanding the necessity of addressing inequalities in our community is important; having the tools and support to put this into practice is vital.
“We have already launched the Health Inequalities learning hub which raises awareness of the relationship between discrimination, inequalities and health inequalities, a critical first step for building knowledge to enable actions.
“This new resource has been specifically developed to offer practical guidance, methods and frameworks to help those in public service roles reduce inequalities in the services they provide.
“We will continue to build the wider learning development programme, with a view to adding resources that consider inequalities in Procurement and The Workplace.”
The public is being invited to have their say on plans to add the number of calories to menus in the out of home food sector including cafes, restaurants and takeaways.
The Out of home sector – mandatory calorie labelling: consultation fulfils a pledge made by the Scottish Government’s in their 2021 Out of Home Action Plan. The Plan builds on the commitments made in the 2018 Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan and recommendations made by Food Standards Scotland (FSS) to Scottish Ministers in 2019.
Mandating calorie labelling at the point of choice is one potential way to support the Out of Home (OOH) sector to make a key contribution in improving our dietary health. In Scotland it is estimated that there are around 41,000 outlets in Scotland that fall within the Out of Home definition.
In setting out this consultation, the Scottish Government have used the expertise of Food Standards Scotland and Public Health Scotland to set questions that will help us establish the benefits, opportunities and impacts of mandating calorie labelling in OOH settings.
The 12-week consultation, which sets out the broad types of food and drink that would be covered, will seek views on how this could apply to:
- food and hospitality businesses, depending on their size
- public sector institutions such as hospitals and prisons
- pre-packed food such as filled sandwiches
- online takeaway menus
- children’s menus
The consultation also welcome views on possible approaches to enforcement. With Local Authorities currently responsible for enforcing existing food law in businesses captured in the scope of the mandatory labelling proposals, it is acknowledged that they will be best placed to support delivery and enforcement of the proposal.
The consultation responses will inform whether legislation is introduced to make it a legal requirement for calories to be included on menus and forms part of the government’s wider actions to ensure Scotland is a place where we eat well and have a healthy weight, including our aim to halve childhood obesity by 2030.
Since 6 April, out of home businesses in England with more than 250 employees have to display calories are in meals on their menus, websites, and on delivery platforms.
Public Health Minister Maree Todd said:
“Before the pandemic, people living in Scotland were consuming more and more food and drink out of home or ordering it in. Whether it’s breakfast at a roadside café, grabbing a lunchtime soup and sandwich from a local convenience store or ordering food online from a restaurant, most of us were increasingly buying food outside the home – a trend I expect to resume as we recover from the pandemic.
“Two-thirds of the population living in Scotland is recorded as living with overweight or obesity – a key factor in our plan to address this is calorie labelling. We know that giving people more information, such as the number of calories in meals will enable people to make healthier choices when eating out, or ordering in. This is not novel practice – calories are already required on retail food purchases and calorie labelling for out of home sites is mandated in many other countries.
“Many food companies in Scotland have already taken this significant step voluntarily. We want to learn from those experiences and I would urge everyone to share their thoughts in this consultation.”
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) Head of Nutrition Science and Policy Dr Gillian Purdon said:
“We welcome the launch of the Scottish Government’s consultation on mandatory calorie labelling for the out of home sector.
“FSS has long proposed the introduction of mandatory calorie labelling as part of a suite of recommendations to address the nation’s poor diet. Alongside the consultation, we published the findings of two reports which highlight that overall, calorie information at point of choice can reduce the amount of calories ordered or consumed.
“With eating out is now an everyday occurrence and nearly a quarter of our calories coming from food and drink purchased outside of home, mandatory calorie labelling is one way to support people to make healthier options.”
On 31 March 2022, the Scottish Government announced the formation of an advisory group that will shape plans for mandatory charges on coffee cups and other single-use disposable beverage containers, work on which had been on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The charge is expected to come into effect during the course of this parliament.
The group will contain representatives from every stage of the supply chain, from manufacturers and distributors through small and large retailers, as well as consumer groups, environmental NGOs, equalities groups and academics.
It is believed charging for single-use cups will help encourage people to make the move to reusable alternatives, as well as supporting the shift towards a more circular economy.
An expert panel on environmental charging and other measures had previously recommended the introduction of a national, mandatory requirement to sell beverages and disposable cups separately, including an initial minimum price of between 20 to 25p per cup.
An estimated 200 million single-use disposable beverage cups are used every year in Scotland, with this figure expected to rise to 310 million by 2025. At present, Zero Waste Scotland estimate that disposable cups generate around 4,000 tonnes of waste each year, with around 40,000 of these cups littered in Scotland every year. Due to their waterproof plastic lining, they can be hard to recycle, resulting in most of them being incinerated or sent to landfill.
As part of recently announced packaging reforms, larger coffee shops, fast food chains and others who sell drinks in disposable paper cups will have to provide a dedicated bin to collect and recycle these from 2024.
Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said:
“Single-use coffee cups are a classic example of the throwaway culture that we are taking action to tackle.
“Lots of people already carry a reusable cup with them, but hundreds of millions of single-use cups are still being wasted every single year.
“Evidence shows that a small charge on single-use cups can be hugely effective in encouraging people to switch to a reusable alternative.
“I look forward to working with experts representing business, the environment and consumers to take forward this important measure. Alongside Scotland’s deposit return scheme, which will recycle nearly two billion bottles and cans every year, and our action to ban some of the most problematic single-use plastics, this will make a vital contribution to reducing the amount of waste generated in the country.”
Eat Well Age Well report on Round 2 of their Small Ideas, Big Impact Fund highlights the positive impact of projects which received funding to help support older people to live well via food, with several of the projects using funding to provide REHIS Eating Well for Older People (EWfOP) training.
The training means that the people and organisations working directly with older adults in their homes and communities understand the issues that affect them the most and can recognise change. The regular contact and trusting relationships community organisations have with the older people they work with also makes them best placed to have conversations about eating and drinking well.
To tackle and prevent malnutrition Eat Well Age Well have developed and delivered The Small Ideas Big Impact Fund (SIBI) which aimed to encourage people across Scotland to test out new ideas to help prevent, detect and/or treat malnutrition in older people aged 65 years and over.
The Small Ideas, Big Impact Fund – Round 2 Report highlights the impact of work completed throughout the period of May 2019 – January 2021 and is based on 22 projects which received funding.
Funds between £50 to £5000 were available to test out or extend initiatives which help prevent, detect and/or treat malnutrition in older people, and the fund was specifically designed for individuals, community groups, social enterprises, charities and public-sector workers.
The funded projects supported 27 staff and volunteers from 16 projects to take part in either REHIS Eating Well for Older People (EWfOP) training or EWAW’s Raising the Issue of Malnutrition.
Funded activities have had an impact in the following ways:
• Increased food access
• Identified and addressed malnutrition
• Increased health and wellbeing
• Decreased social isolation and loneliness