Scottish Health Survey 2021 Released

The Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) is commissioned by the Scottish Government Health Directorates to provide reliable information on the health, and factors related to health, of people living in Scotland that cannot be obtained from other sources. 

The series aims to:

  • estimate the occurrence of particular health conditions
  • estimate the prevalence of certain risk factors associated with health
  • look at differences between regions and between subgroups of the population
  • monitor trends in the population’s health over time
  • make a major contribution to monitoring progress towards health targets

For the first time, the data for the diet chapter of the SHeS, provides comparison with the SDGs as they were collected by a new methodology developed by Food Standards Scotland (FSS).

The overall picture of diet in Scotland remains very poor, with fibre intake among the worst of the survey results. Diets which are high in fibre are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer.

The data shows that, on average, adults consumed 17.2g of fibre per day, well below the target of 30g. Men, who typically have a higher total food intake, were more likely to achieve the target (8%), compared with women (5%).

Key findings from the report show that in 2021:

  • revalence of hazardous or harmful weekly alcohol consumption has reduced from 34% in 2003 to 23% in 2021. Nine per cent of adults reported ever having had a problem with alcohol, with 1% saying they still had a problem.
  • Five per cent of adults were current e-cigarette users, a reduction from 7% each year between 2015 and 2019.
  • Thirty per cent of adults were living with obesity. This was similar to or marginally higher than rates in each year since 2008 (ranging from 27% to 29%).
  • Around one in five of all adults consumed five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day (22%). This was similar to levels since 2003 (21% in 2003).
  • One in five children (20%) aged 2 to 15 met the five-a-day recommendation for consumption of fruit and vegetables. This was significantly higher than in the years 2008 to 2019.
  • Almost half of all adults (48%) met the Scottish Dietary goal to reduce total fat intake to no more than 35% of food energy. Around one in five adults (22%) met the Scottish Dietary Goal for free sugarsintake to not exceed 5% of total energy.

The Scottish Health Survey main report is published alongside a short summary report on the Scottish Health Survey website.  Key indicators for NHS health boards and local authorities are available via the Scottish Health Survey Dashboard.

Food Standards Scotland campaign encourages people to take a daily Vitamin D supplement

Food Standards Scotland have launched a campaign aimed at encouraging people to take a daily vitamin D supplement.

Getting enough vitamin D is important to support bone and muscle health.

In Scotland, between October and March, we don’t get enough of the right kind of sunlight for our bodies to make vitamin D.

Therefore, FSS are recommending that everyone considers taking a supplement containing 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D daily.

People who are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D are recommended to take a daily supplement all year round. Those more at risk include:

  • pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • infants and children under 5 years old
  • people who have low or no exposure to the sun, for example those who cover their skin for cultural reasons, are housebound, confined indoors for long periods or live in an institution
  • people from minority ethnic groups with dark skin such as those of African, African-Caribbean and south Asian origin, who require more sun exposure to make as much vitamin D

Visit our website to find out more about vitamin D.

Revised Draft National Planning Framework 4 laid in the Scottish Parliament

On the 10 November, the Draft National Planning Framework was laid in the Scottish Parliament for approval along with an Explanatory Report that outlines the changes from Draft NPF4 to the Revised Draft. This is a significant milestone for Scotland’s planning system.

The Revised Draft is a product of extensive engagement and collaboration and maintains the direction of travel that gained support through our 3 rounds of consultation: the Call for Ideas (2020), the Position Statement (2020) and Draft NPF4 (2021). 

Proposals in NPF4 include:

  • enabling more renewable energy generation, outside National Parks and National Scenic Areas, to support the transition away from reliance on fossil fuels
  • supporting emerging low-carbon and zero emissions technologies – including hydrogen and carbon capture – and developments on land that unlock the transformative potential of offshore renewable energy, such as expansion of the electricity grid. Waste incineration facilities would be highly unlikely to receive permission
  • facilitating creation of cycling or walking routes, low carbon transport, more green spaces and opportunities for play, culture and tourism
  • helping rural communities grow by enabling more local homes and encouraging a more diverse rural economy
  • regenerating city and town centres to help them adapt to economic change while enabling people to access shops, schools and workplaces within a 20 minute walk or cycle
  • adopting a planned and evidence-based approach to delivering good quality and affordable homes that benefit communities.

NPF4 is required to be approved by the Scottish Parliament, then adopted by Scottish Ministers.  On adoption we will commence the provisions in the Planning Act which will make NPF4 part of the statutory development plan. 

Revised Draft NPF4 | Transforming Planning

Scottish Government Commences Development of the new National Marine Plan

The Scottish Government has officially commenced the development of the new National Marine Plan. This announcement follows the previous National Marine Plan Review in 2021 and the government’s decision in Programme for Goverment 2022 – 2023.

The first National Marine Plan was developed in 2015. It is now time to develop the new plan to face the twin crisis of climate change and nature loss and to support Scotland’s Blue Economy. Effectively managing how we use our marine space is critical in our transition to net zero by 2045.

National marine plan 2: engagement strategy – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Online Open Day at University of the West of Scotland

The University of the West of Scotland are running on Online Open day on Wednesday 30 November, where potential students can find out more about the BSc (Hons) in Environmental Health with Professional Practice and studying at the University of the West of Scotland. This degree course is accredited by the Institute and is the ideal step to becoming an Environmental Health Officer in Scotland.

For more information and to book a place go to here.

REHIS News – October 2022

Annual General Meeting

The Institute’s Annual General Meeting will this year be held in hybrid format, on Friday 18 November 2020 at 2pm. It will be held at the Edinburgh Training and Conference Venue and on MS Teams and is open to members of the Institute. Members should have received their papers by now which includes the agenda and details of nominees who are up for election to the Institute’s Council. To register to attend please refer to the Institute’s website: REHIS Environmental Health Update and Annual General Meeting – REHIS

Professional Development Opportunities

The Institute has a number of training and professional development opportunities currently taking bookings. These can be found athttps://rehis.com/event-type/rehis-events/ and include Dog Control Training, the annual Pollution Update, the annual Health and Safety Update and the Institute’s Environmental Health Update which precedes the AGM. The Northern and Southern Centres also have training events available for booking on Smoke Nuisance and Gas Safety respectively.

The dog control training has been long anticipated and it would be hoped as many officers as possible, who have responsibility for serving Dog Control Notices, can manage to attend the training. Bookings for the in person day (3 November) must be made by Friday 28 October.https://rehis.com/events/dog-control-training-part-2/  This day includes a number of speakers including dog behaviorists and the Dog’s Trust, offering information which can be shared with dog owners to assist in controlling their dog, the signs to look out for, when a dog may be moving towards a point of being out of control, ways to maintain personal safety around dogs and will offer ample time for sharing experiences. Delegates attending either/both training sessions from a local authority need not provide a purchase order number at the time of booking as funding made available by the Scottish Government can be utilized to attend the training.

Community Training – Save the Date

The REHIS Food and Health Update Seminar is being held on the morning of Wednesday 15 March 2023 (half day). The intention is to host this as a hybrid event. Details to follow in the coming months.

E-coli outbreak in East Lothian declared officially “over”

The multi-agency Incident Management Team (IMT) said there have been no new cases of the infection in more than 28 days, meaning that the outbreak has been concluded.

A total of 57 cases were identified and five nurseries in Musselburgh and Haddington were closed as a safety precaution during the outbreak of E-coli.

The IMT, which was formed to manage the outbreak response, thanked all of the affected families for helping to contain the outbreak and prevent further spread through the community.

Dr Graham Mackenzie, Consultant in Public Health Medicine and Chair of the IMT, said: “We are very grateful to families, nurseries, and other workplaces affected by this outbreak. Your collective action has helped to minimise the onward spread of this dangerous bug.”

Letters advising families about the conclusion of the outbreak and the most up to date information have also been issued.

Work is still continuing behind the scenes by the health care scientists in epidemiology and microbiology to try and identify the source of the infection.

The Health Protection Team is also working with and supporting some families through the clearance process, which is a normal part of an E. coli outbreak.

Dr Mackenzie reminded families of the need for ongoing good hand hygiene, especially as Scotland experiences an overall rise in the number of cases of E-coli.

He added: “This outbreak has highlighted the importance of careful handwashing, with soap and warm water, and drying hands thoroughly, before eating and after going to the toilet.

“It also reinforces the need to stay off nursery, school or work, while unwell. With most vomiting and diarrhoea illnesses it is important to stay off for 48 hours after symptoms have stopped. E. coli is different because of the seriousness of infection.

“The outbreak in Haddington and Musselburgh has coincided with a national rise in E. coli cases. It is important to remain vigilant.”

Avian Influenza Prevention Zone

Following an increase in the number of detections of avian influenza (bird flu) in wild birds and other captive birds, the Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across Great Britain to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading amongst poultry and other captive birds.

This means that from 12:00 noon on Monday 17 October, it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers in Great Britain to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the threat of avian flu.

The introduction of the AIPZ comes after the United Kingdom has faced its largest ever outbreak of avian flu with more than 190 cases confirmed across the United Kingdom since late October 2021, with over 40 of these confirmed since the beginning of this month. The East of England has been particularly badly hit with cases in poultry and other captive birds. There have also been cases in the south west and findings in wild birds at multiple sites across Great Britain.

Avian influenza circulates naturally in wild birds and when they migrate to the United Kingdom from mainland Europe over the winter they can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds. Maintaining strict biosecurity is the most effective method of protecting birds from the virus.

Keepers with more than 500 birds will need to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites, workers will need to change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and site vehicles will need to be cleansed and disinfected regularly to limit the risk of the disease spreading. Backyard owners with smaller numbers of poultry including chickens, ducks and geese must also take steps to limit the risk of the disease spreading to their animals.

Public Health Scotland advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and Food Standards Scotland advises that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

 In a joint statement, the Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland and Wales said:

“Bird keepers have faced the largest ever outbreak of avian flu this year and with winter brings an even more increased risk to flocks as migratory birds return to the United Kingdom.

“Scrupulous biosecurity and hygiene measures are the best form of defence, which is why we have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across Great Britain, meaning that all bird keepers must take action to help prevent the disease spreading to more poultry and other domestic birds.

“The introduction of an AIPZ means that regardless of whether you keep a few birds or thousands, you are legally required to meet enhanced biosecurity requirements to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.” 

The introduction of an AIPZ follows a decision to raise the risk level for avian influenza incursion in wild Birds in Great Britain from ‘medium’ to ‘high’. For poultry and other captive birds the risk level has been raised from ‘medium’ to ‘high’ at premises where biosecurity is below the required standards, and from ‘low’ to ‘medium’ where stringent biosecurity measures are applied.

The nationwide AIPZ builds on the additional biosecurity measures that were brought in last week as part of the regional housing order that covers Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex. The AIPZ, now in force across Great Britain, does not include a nationwide requirement to house birds. However, this is being kept under constant review.

There has been a prolonged season of avian influenza this year and with the now increased risk during the winter, the need to include a mandatory housing requirement in the AIPZ may arise. Further disease control measures will be based on the latest scientific evidence and veterinary advice.

The AIPZ means bird keepers across Great Britain must:

  • Keep free ranging birds within fenced areas, and ponds, watercourses and permanent standing water must be fenced off (except in specific circumstances, e.g. zoo birds).
  • Cleanse and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy;
  • Minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures;
  • Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas
  • Keep domestic ducks and geese separate from other poultry.
  • Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources;
  • Feed and water your birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;

Keepers should familiarise themselves with our avian flu advice at www.gov.scot/avianinfluenza and report suspicion of disease to your local APHA Field Services Office.

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone will be in place until further notice and will be kept under regular review as part of the government’s work to monitor and manage the risks of bird flu.

Dead wild birds may be infected, so don’t touch them unless wearing suitable protective clothing.  When found on publicly owned land, the local authority will consider on a case by case basis the removal of carcases.

Poultry keepers and members of the public should consult our latest  guidance to check the latest threshold for reporting dead wild birds to Defra’s national GB helpline on 03459 33 55 77 and should not touch or pick them up.

Food Standards Scotland relaunch updated Healthy Eating Tutorial

Food Standards Scotland have relaunched their Healthy Eating Tutorial, developed in collaboration with Public Health Scotland.

The tutorial serves as a helpful tool for those looking for an introduction to nutrition, and who may be required to provide healthy eating messages to others as part of their job, for example those working in health and social care, education, community groups, local authorities, retail, catering and food manufacturing. It may also be of interest to consumers who want to learn more about healthy eating.

Along with updated content and modules, the tutorial now carries Continual Professional Development (CPD) hours for REHIS CPD scheme – a score of 80% or more in the optional final assessment will receive a certificate for up to a maximum of 1.5 CPD hours.

The digital tool familiarises users with the Eatwell Guide and aims to demonstrate the importance of a healthy diet and what it’s comprised of; as well as outlining the advice and support available to achieve it. 

You can learn more and try it out here.

Licensing scheme opens for short-term lets

From 1 October 2022, all short-term let accommodation will need a licence, unless specifically excluded. This will ensure there is a mandatory set of standards that apply to all short-term lets across Scotland. 

The new licence is a legal obligation, even if hosts occasionally let out a spare room or sub-let while on holiday for example.  

The licensing scheme was developed in response to concerns raised by residents about the impact of short-term let properties on their local communities. It gives councils flexibility to develop licensing schemes that meet local needs, and sits alongside powers for councils to establish short-term let control areas.

To comply with the licence, hosts will be required to meet a set of mandatory conditions which apply across Scotland, plus any additional conditions set by their council.

Anyone operating as a host before 1 October has until 1 April 2023 to apply for a licence and can operate until their application has been determined. New hosts must obtain a licence before accepting bookings and welcoming guests to stay.

More information about the new licensing requirements and short-term let control areas can be found on the Scottish Government website.

Licence fees will vary depending on the local authority, size of property and type of let. Mandatory licence conditions can be found in Schedule 3 of the Licensing Order.

The Scottish Government has committed to working with local authorities, as well as organisations such as Airbnb, Booking.com and the Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers, to review levels of short-term let activity in hotspot areas next summer. This will help the Scottish Government to monitor the impact of these measures on the wider tourism sector, and to assess whether any further measures are required.

Housing Secretary Shona Robison said:

“Our new licensing scheme will support responsible operators and give guests the confidence that their short-term let – be it a flat in Edinburgh, a property for a business trip to the Borders, or a cottage in the Highlands – meets the same set of safety standards.

“These new conditions include measures such as displaying an energy performance rating on listings, or securing valid buildings and public liability insurance. We know the vast majority of short-term lets businesses are already following these safety standards as a matter of best practice, and some are already required by existing legislation.

“We know short-term lets make a positive contribution to Scotland’s tourism industry and local economies, and these measures will allow them to continue doing just that while ensuring this is balanced with the needs of local residents and communities.

“The deadline for applications from existing hosts is 1 April, and I would urge all hosts and operators to contact your local authority as early as possible to learn how to apply.”

Malcolm Roughead, CEO at VisitScotland, said:

“The small accommodation sector is a key contributor to the economy and our high-quality and varied offering is one of the things that makes Scotland such a special destination.

“Through an Industry Advisory Group, we’ve been working closely with representatives from across the sector ahead of introduction of the licensing schemes.

“We’ll continue to give both new and established businesses the right advice to help them through the process of applying for a short-term let licence.”

Pausing asymptomatic Covid-19 testing

Health and social care workers will no longer be required to test for COVID-19 every week as asymptomatic testing was paused on 28 September.

The four UK Chief Medical Officers agreed it is safe to halt weekly staff testing, visitor and carer testing and hospital admission testing following a change to the Covid-19 alert level and, importantly, a high uptake of vaccinations.

Stakeholders were informed of the change to the guidance on 14 September and some healthcare and social care settings may therefore choose to pause regular testing before the end of the month.

It is the latest restriction to be lifted in health and social care settings – following the decision earlier this month to remove the requirement for facemasks in social care homes.

Unpaid carers and visitors to care homes and hospitals will no longer need to undertake routine testing, but those planning to see family or friends in these settings are advised follow the ‘Covid Sense’ guidelines and steer clear if they are unwell.

Testing will remain in place for admissions into care homes and to support appropriate clinical diagnosis and treatment for hospital patients and care home residents.

Outbreak testing and symptomatic testing for healthcare workers in patient facing roles will also continue. Changes to testing will be kept under regular clinical review.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said:

“The huge success of our world-leading vaccination programme means we are now able to pause routine asymptomatic testing in most high-risk settings.

“This is the latest step in our return to normal life, but we must apply Covid Sense to keep these freedoms and ease the pressure on the NHS over winter.

“Vaccination remains our best line of defence against COVID-19 and I urge everyone who is eligible for the winter vaccination programme to take up the offer of an appointment when it’s offered.”

Scotland’s tap water quality remains high says Water Quality Regulator 

The latest annual report issued by the Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR) for Scotland’s shows that Scottish Water’s compliance with the stringent standards for drinking water is high at 99.92%.

The report is now in its twentieth year and highlights compliance with standards has improved from 99.28% in 2002 to 99.92% in 2021. This may sound very marginal, but the number of failures of standards has decreased substantially at customers taps from over 1000 in 2002 to 110 in 2021.

In 2021, Scottish Water carried out a total of 290,849 regulatory tests on Scotland’s drinking water for which there is a standard, and many more for operational reasons such as following a burst main. Of the 136,455 tests taken to represent water at consumers taps 99.92% complied with the standards. In 2021 Scottish Water met its regulatory commitments regarding water sampling, and the data contained in this report shows a continued high level of compliance with standards.

A further 59,746 tests were carried out on water supplied from treatment works, and all but 24 of these tests met the required standards, an improvement on the previous year’s performance. 94,648 tests were also taken from service reservoirs, where treated water is stored. Compliance here was significantly improved on 2020.

The number of water quality events reported in 2021 was 855. Events of a more serious nature are categorised as water quality incidents, and in 2021, 31 events were declared to be incidents and were investigated by DWQR. There were a number of causes of water quality incidents, with significant loss of control of the water treatment process by far the largest category.

A full copy of Drinking Water Quality in Scotland 2021 is available here.