Attendees and apologies
Members in attendance (by virtual conference):
- John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery (Scottish Government) (Chair)
- Jackie Baillie MSP (Scottish Labour)
- Murdo Fraser MSP (Scottish Conservatives)
- Patrick Harvie MSP (Scottish Greens)
- Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP (Scottish Liberal Democrats)
A number of Scottish Government officials also attended the meeting.
Items and actions
Minutes of the last meeting
The Chair welcomed members to the third meeting and noted the intention to publish the minutes of the last meeting on the Scottish Government website. Members were invited to contact the Deputy First Minister’s office if they had any comments on the minutes.
Presentation by the Chief Performance Officer, NHS Scotland
NHS Scotland’s Chief Performance Officer, John Connaghan, delivered a presentation on NHS recovery.
In response to the presentation, members discussed a range of issues, including:
- NHS staffing, including the additional 1,500 staff to be employed over the next five years to run planned treatment centres in Scotland
- staff recruitment and how staff would be deployed to meet demand
- modelling potential future demand on services given the backlog caused by the pandemic, and the accelerated schedule for developing elective treatment centres across Scotland
- the opportunities to retain healthcare capability improvements introduced in response to the pandemic as well as any public health improvements generated by behaviour change over the pandemic, which might, for example, reduce incidence of winter flu
- opportunities through NHS recovery to continue to improve patient navigation to ensure patients are seen in the most appropriate setting
- oversight of the private healthcare sector, to ensure that the NHS is getting good value for money when purchasing private sector capacity
Update on the COVID-19 Legislation Programme
The Deputy First Minister outlined the plans for the COVID-19 Legislation Programme, as set out in the note circulated to members for the meeting.
Members were keen to have as early sight as possible of the draft Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry) (Scotland) Bill and its support policy documents. The Bill had already been submitted to the Presiding Officer and would not normally be shared more widely at this point but, given the circumstances, the Deputy First Minister offered to share the draft Bill and supporting material with members on a confidential basis. Out of courtesy, the Deputy First Minister indicated that he would write the Presiding Officer to notify her of his plans.
- Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery)
Members discussed the current ban on evictions that applied in areas subject to Level 3 and 4 Coronavirus restrictions. If Parliament passed the Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry) (Scotland) Bill, this would extend the ban for an initial six month period, with the option to seek parliamentary approval for a further six month extension. There was no scope to add new measures to this Bill that were not already included in the original two Scottish Coronavirus Acts.
The Scottish Government then intended to use the first six month extension period to consult over the summer on whether temporary changes which had brought about improvements and efficiencies to public sector delivery in the Scottish and UK Covid Acts should be available permanently. The Government’s intention would be to bring forward permanence legislation in the autumn and secure Parliament’s approval before March 2022. This ‘Permanence Bill’ would allow Parliament to make current measures permanent in their current form or to adapt them.
Members raised concerns that evictions could be made now in areas subject to restrictions below Level 3 and wanted to explore options for preventing such evictions as soon as possible, in advance of the opportunity provided by the ‘Permanence Bill’. It was agreed that this should be the focus of the Steering Group’s fourth meeting the following week.
Focus and timing of the next meeting
It was agreed that the focus of the next meeting should be to explore what options might be available to prevent evictions now in areas subject to Coronavirus restrictions below Level 3. The Deputy First Minister undertook to invite senior officials from the Housing and Social Justice Directorate to the next meeting to help set out the complex issues at play here and to offer views on possible solutions.
- Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery
The next meet would take place at 17:30-18:30 on 16 June.
No other business was raised.
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