Scottish Government Blogs

June 23, 2016
by child-maternal
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Dads Rock

In this blog post, David Marshall from Dads Rock talks about why dads views should be considered as part of the Scottish Maternity and Neonatal Review, the importance of the inclusion of fathers as well as changing perceptions of the role of dads.

On the 5 October 2011, Edinburgh dads David Marshall and Thomas Lynch were speaking about the lack of services for dads, by dads. They both wanted to be the best dads that they could, and enjoyed playing and learning new things with their children. They also had a profound love of music, especially Rock!  Both had been to toddler groups, and wondered where all the dads were. They looked into whether there were groups for dads, and could not find any locally available groups.

Dads Rock was born! The name is a play on words; and has several meanings. The obvious music connection that they agreed would be in the play group, as well as a statement to say that this organisation would be the rock dads’ need, the solid base to support them to be the best parent they can. It is also stating clearly that Dads Rock! And they are vital to their children’s upbringing.

They decided it was time for action, and that they would give themselves four months to obtain funding and set up Scotland’s first free musical playgroup for dads and kids.

They approached Edinburgh Council who were kind enough to provide free space in a local library. This gave the group an amazing start, as did the funding from The Big Lottery.  Knowing that there was a large Polish community in Edinburgh it was agreed that any publicity would be translated into Polish as well as English.

In February 2012, the first Dads Rock playgroup session was held in Sighthill Edinburgh. Fifteen dads attended that first session, it was an amazing success, 80% were Polish. Over the coming months the group went from strength to strength, and numbers increased.Dads Rock was approached regarding a second playgroup in North Edinburgh, in the Granton area, and this group launched in October 2012.

In March 2013 the Sighthill group moved to new larger premises and in April 2013, Fife Gingerbread approached Dads Rock regarding starting Fife’s first dads playgroup, which launched on 1 June 2013.  Dads Rock was started as a project of Fathers Network Scotland, and in March 2013 became a charity in its own right.

For more information about Dad’s Rock visit:

Contact David Marshall at:


June 23, 2016
by child-maternal
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Views from a Community Midwife

I am a Community Midwife in NHS Grampian and have done so for 26 years! I’m getting old and tired but I love my job and look forward to retiring whenever that might be!

I was delighted to be asked to become a member of the Review Main Group and the Maternity Models of Care sub group and was keen to be involved in the Review -  I have a voice that wants to be heard.

As well as my day job and being a member of the Review groups, I’m also a workplace representative for the RCM. I’m very passionate about who’s looking after the midwife.  All the focus tends to be on the mother and their families which is very important, but in order for her to get the good quality care that she needs, it’s essential that midwives are supported to function as best they can.

Initially it was daunting, as it seemed a who’s who of the maternity, obstetric and neonatal world but I quickly realised that although I work at the frontline and at the ground level, my experience is valuable and equally important.

It’s fair to say that it’s been challenging attending the many meetings, reading the vast amount of papers etc. Despite these challenges, and the short timescales we’re working to, members are very dedicated and enthusiastic and everyone has put a tremendous amount of work, time and suggestions into the Review.

We’re at the stage of seeing some key themes emerging, particularly with continuity of care and carer, more family-centred services, developing roles and skills mix, enhancing neonatal care to name a few. I’m keeping positive about it all and seeing some of the initial Review recommendations coming through at this early stage is encouraging.

I’ve gained a lot from this experience and I’ve met many new people from all aspects of maternity and neonatal care.  I hope an opportunity arises where I can work with them again!

June 23, 2016
by child-maternal
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Update from Review Chair, Jane Grant

As part of our ongoing engagement exercise for the Review, I was pleased to meet with a number of third sector organisations at a recent event which was arranged for this particular stakeholder group.Three specific sessions were held throughout the day for pregnancy and neonatal, bereavement and father’s organisations.  I was delighted that 25 organisations joined us on the day for an open and interesting discussion.

We gained valuable feedback and examples of good practice and heard about some of the challenges faced by these organisations and areas that they felt needed to be improved.  These included:

  • Continuity of care and carer and ensuring that there is an ongoing relationship between a dedicated midwife and team to support women and their partners.
  • Establishing good communications and relationships between hospital staff and voluntary services and publicising these services widely.
  • Signposting voluntary bereavement organisations to parents who have lost a newborn.
  • More proactive inclusion of fathers during birth and postnatal care and more opportunities for dads to stay in wards to help support mother and baby.

Helen Peck, Scottish Coordinator from Tamba (Twins and Multiple Births Association) attended the event.  In this video she talks about the role of Tamba, her aspirations for the Review in which she highlights the importance of better outcomes for women who have multiple births, babies and their families.

Thank you to everyone who attended the third sector engagement event to share their views with us. We’re seeing a commonality of themes arising from the feedback from all our engagement to date – with many similar points being raised.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who took the time to complete our neonatal survey.  We received over 500 responses from parents.

We need to know what people expect from maternity services, what they are like now, and how they could be shaped in the future and I am encouraged by what I’ve heard from staff, services users and support organisations to date.

All comments and suggestions for the Review are welcome and the more people we can engage in this process, the better the service will be in the future.  Our engagement  will be complete by the end of June all the valuable feedback, comments and views that we’ve heard will be considered.

If you have any final comments to submit to help inform the review please email

June 22, 2016
by Ruth Allen
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Calculating shellfish stock figures

SMFS cover 0716

A new Scottish Marine & Freshwater Science report has been published looking at indicators of changes for Scottish shellfish stocks.

Shellfish are important to Scottish fisheries - a total of 61 544 tonnes of shellfish with a value of £150 million were landed by Scottish vessels in 2014. However, for many shellfish stocks, the limited biological data and lack of appropriate monitoring make assessing stock challenging.

The data limitation is due to insufficient methods for the ageing of crustaceans. For sedentary shellfish stocks, exploited by localised fisheries, data at the appropriate spatial scale is often not available and measured (or derived) regularly, indicators are able to show changes in the state of the population or stock, and fishing mortality to support a data-limited stock assessment.

In this report, we review the use of indicators calculated from a number of sources:

  • commercial fishery data
  • fishery-independent survey data
  • available biological data

and we look at their use in the assessment, advisory process and management of data limited stocks, both fish and shellfish, worldwide.

Further Information

June 21, 2016
by SG Admin
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Are you a hands-on digital pro?

If you’re looking to take your digital marketing career to the next level and want to work on projects which are about changing lives, making Scotland a stronger, healthier, smarter, greener, safer and fairer country, we should chat.

The award winning Scottish Government marketing team is looking to recruit a digital marketer to work on a range of projects across various campaigns that we deliver each year.

As well as working with the marketing agencies who support the Scottish Government, you will be expected to roll the sleeves up to research, plan, create, deliver and assess content which impact on the priority objectives of the Government.

Please click here for the full job description

If you have any questions or please contact Neil Harrison. This role is temporary, based on a 2-year contract or secondment.

To apply send your CV and covering letter to by 14 July 2016.

June 20, 2016
by Trevor Owen
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Developing a rape and sexual assault service for Orkney

Orkney, where I was born and brought up is one of the safest, happiest and most aspirational places to live in the UK. According to numerous lifestyle surveys, tourist brochures and blogs Orkney is the place to be. And I don’t doubt that for most Orcadians the need for a support service for survivors of sexual violence seems incredulous.  My growing caseload and feedback from community agencies suggest otherwise.

As much as we’d like to think we live in an island utopia there are many challenges. Orkney has the highest fuel poverty in Scotland with 63% of households affected. Our population is aging with 30% aged 60 and over. Alcohol tends to be our drug of choice and was reported in 2014 as a factor in a quarter of crimes committed here. Our alcohol related hospital discharges are 121% above the Scottish average. While our population is increasing there are many fragile communities, with less than 20% of the Orcadian population living in our outer isles.

These 70 islands, (19 inhabited) have a unique history, culture and a strong identity all its own. We have the smallest local authority in Scotland and providing services and support across Orkney takes a certain amount of creativity and tenacity not lightly undertaken.  We manage to do an awful lot with very little, especially within our voluntary sector and community groups. I’ve noticed a positive change in community confidence and an expectation that wherever we happen to live that services and support will be available and easily accessible.

Orkney experiences the same problems as anywhere else, and sadly, sexual harms are far more common than we might suspect. The Police Scotland report statistics for Orkney Islands Council area state that during 14-15 there were 44 reports of Group 2 sexual crimes, including 10 rapes, 2 intended rapes and 8 sexual assaults. If only 1 in 5  women report sexual crimes and the levels of reporting are lower for men and LGBTI community I  could estimate a serious sexual assault happens at least once a week in our safe community. Many agencies, including  Women’s Aid Orkney, tell me the Orkney Rape Crisis service is vital.

Orkney is a fish bowl.  Although some consider island communities to be remote what happens here is perceived as transparent and public knowledge. Abusive behaviour in our community, must be even more hidden, even more controlled through coercion or transformed into socially acceptable behaviour to escape detection and community condemnation. Perpetrators rely on inequality, a sense of entitlement that privilege gives them, to do what they do unchallenged. Part of my remit in the new Orkney Rape Crisis service is to bust myths and outdated attitudes surrounding sexual assaults which lead to victim blaming and minimising of these serious crimes.

Psychologically we struggle to accept that perpetrators can also be the same people that we know and trust. If we don’t recognise the possibility that rape, sexual assault, stalking, FGM, trafficking and sexual exploitation can exist within our island community we are failing survivors, negating their experience, reinforcing inequality and increasing the risks for everyone.

Last year, the Scottish Government announced funding to invest in the additional support of victims of sex crimes across Scotland including the development of new local services in Orkney and Shetland.  We asked stakeholders what support they would like the new Orkney Rape Crisis service to provide, who should be consulted and how the service should be delivered.  There was a comprehensive response asking for information, advocacy, prevention and support for survivors, their friends, families and professionals. They said the development of the service should draw on input from across statutory and third sector agencies and the experience of survivors.

Professionals identified  a  need for specialised support for people with learning difficulties, training for professionals and young people in schools, qualified and trained staff in the service, information on consent, the law on stalking, rape and sexual assault. People also wanted help when reporting to the police, going to medical appointments, solicitors and court. It was of the utmost importance that accessing the service should be confidential, discreet, accessible and creative in supporting service users from rural and outer island areas.

Since I came into post on 25th of January I’ve been working towards these identified stakeholder goals.  I was so delighted to be able to launch our service on 22nd of April and start providing support for people in Orkney.  Currently I am a part-time (28 hours per week), lone worker, and potentially this might feel quite isolating. In fact, as the support and development worker I am an employee of Rape Crisis Scotland, hosted within Women’s Aid Orkney and mentored by Rape and Sexual Assault Service Highland (RASASH). I have a supervisor in Tayside and a new colleague in Shetland Rape Crisis, Linda Gray.  I feel completely integrated within this unique partnership, and benefit from the wealth of experience of all the component parts. This system in turn allows me to provide specialist support for anyone aged 13 and over who has experienced sexual assault, their friends, family and professionals supporting survivors. Support is provided in the community face to face in a number of venues, by telephone, email, text and encrypted online platforms so that distance and circumstances are not a barrier to accessing the help needed. I provide advocacy for survivors and liaise with the professionals concerned. I also provide information on a full range of related issues to sexual crimes, prevention and campaigning to improve the response to survivors.

In the Northern Isles there are no forensic services, survivor or custody. Can you imagine having to make that flight in the aftermath of a violent assault, accompanied by known professionals, in public transport to Aberdeen, undergo examination, reporting and possible treatment and be away from home for 24 hours plus? I know everyone would like to see some improvements to this potentially re-traumatising aspect of reporting and I welcome the review of forensic services currently underway.

For many years residents in our outer isles have said they would prefer the anonymity of seeing certain support workers during visits to the mainland of Orkney. If I was to step on a ferry or plane to go to an island venue it would be confirmed within minutes where I was going and who I was seeing. Far better to allow the service user to determine the nature of support and how they are best to access it. Thinking creatively about how we can make support happen using all the resources to hand can be tricky, innovative and rewarding.

Zelda Bradley

Orkney Rape Crisis

June 20, 2016
by Ruth Allen
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Biggest ever assessment of Atlantic deep-sea ecosystems gets underway

Atlas logo

Marine Scotland scientists have been involved a number of collaborative deep sea projects over the years but we’re delighted to be involved in the new ATLAS Project - a research and innovation action funded under the EU’s new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020. The launch of ATLAS marks the beginning of an exciting series of expeditions involving at least 25 research cruises and hundreds of scientists from 10 European countries, the USA and Canada, working collaboratively to explore the depths of the Atlantic Ocean over the next four years.

ATLAS Project Coordinator Professor J. Murray Roberts, from Heriot-Watt University, said: “The north Atlantic was the birthplace of deep-sea biology and the cradle of oceanography. It’s the place we should know best, but it’s only over the last 20 years that we’ve uncovered just how varied and vulnerable the Atlantic’s deep-sea habitats really are.”

ATLAS will strive to improve our understanding of the complexity of deep-sea ecosystems and to predict future shifts and vulnerabilities of these ecosystems and their associated species, including those that are new to science. To do this requires a multi-disciplinary team of scientists and an integrated approach to tackling the problem. Alongside traditional approaches, ATLAS scientists will explore modern molecular techniques, such as environmental DNA (eDNA) sequencing, to search water and sediment samples for known and undiscovered deep-sea species.

As well as carrying out pioneering research and discovery, a major goal of ATLAS is to develop a scientific knowledge base that can inform the development of appropriate international policies to ensure deep-sea Atlantic resources are managed effectively. This will contribute to the European Commission’s long-term “Blue Growth” strategy to support sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors as a whole. Seas and oceans are drivers for the European economy and have great potential for innovation and growth. The “blue” economy represents roughly 5.4 million jobs and generates a gross added value of almost €500 billion a year for Europe.

ATLAS also intends to carry out outreach activities to raise awareness of the importance and vulnerability of the Atlantic ecosystem and the impact humans are having on the ocean environment. This will contribute to a major international effort for “Ocean Literacy” to make all European citizens aware of the importance of the oceans on everyday life on Earth and what actions they can take to help protect them. Activities will include the development of deep sea education material, a travelling road show and a new interactive exhibition on the ocean at Dynamic Earth, a science centre in Edinburgh which receives over 220,000 visitors per year.

Further Information


June 16, 2016
by child-maternal
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Transporting Critically Ill Twin Babies Simultaneously

The South East Scotland Neonatal Transport service (part of ScotStar) is based at the Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health in Edinburgh.  The team is proud to provide the facility to transfer two sick infants simultaneously.

Our dedicated vehicle can accommodate two separate incubators each providing intensive care en-route to an appropriate specialist facility.  This is of paramount importance to parents of twins (sick and/or extremely premature) who may otherwise find themselves in the harrowing predicament of choosing which baby to accompany. It also limits the risk of one baby being placed in one intensive care facility and the other, travelling later, being placed elsewhere if a bed is no longer available where their sibling is. We also invite one parent to travel with their newborn, albeit up front, as we may require a team of four in the cabin with the babies.  It also allows us to quickly relieve the pressure on referring centres, sometimes CMUs, who provide exceptional resuscitation and initial stabilisation but who are unable to maintain that level of care for extended periods.  We are not staffed to a level whereby we can guarantee to have two complete teams available at all times.  However, I am proud to be part of a motivated team whereby all members endeavour to ‘make this happen’ when the relatively infrequent need arises regardless of time of day or proximity to shift end.

There are other occasions when we use the facility to transfer two non-related infants simultaneously, i.e. when attending for investigation/surgery in the same locale. This reduces the impact on driver hours and clinical team hours for non-emergency work.

For more information about the service contact:  Lynn Pearson, Charge Nurse, South East Neonatal Transport Team, Edinburgh

June 16, 2016
by Ruth Allen
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Trialling methods for tracking marine mammals


Harbour Seal

As part of the process for developing wave and tidal renewable energy generation in Scottish Waters,  a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) has to be completed, evaluating the potential interactions between marine renewables and  marine wildlife as a matter of priority. Despite significant progress in the industry over recent years, there remains a great deal of uncertainty about the risk that tidal turbines in particular pose to marine mammals.

To improve our understanding of how animals perceive and respond to devices, the Scottish Government funded a research project to test and deploy methods for tracking the fine scale underwater movements of marine mammals in the vicinity of operating marine tidal energy devices. The Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), based at the University of St Andrews carried out this research over an 18 month period starting in summer 2014.

This research was the first phase of a wider project to track marine mammals around tidal turbines, and had the primary aim of developing and testing the capabilities of a suite of technologies used for detecting collisions or localised avoidance/displacement behaviour of marine mammals within an operational tidal array. This project produced an integrated Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM), Active Acoustic Monitoring (AAM), and underwater video system to track animals in 3D with a high spatial and temporal resolution.

Key outcomes of the research include:

  •  A review of appropriate platforms for deploying monitoring equipment close to the tidal turbines
  • A developed PAM system that is reliable and capable of detecting and tracking harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphin clicks in 3D
  • A technique to track marine mammals in 3D in a tidally energetic environments using dual sonars
  • An efficient algorithm to classify marine mammals in sonar data
  • An AAM system that can successfully detect and track seals in tidally energetic environments
  • A fixed seabed mounted platform with AAM and PAM systems that was successfully deployed and detected marine mammals over a period of several weeks.The next phase of this project will be the deployment of the hardware and software around the first commercial tidal project in Scottish waters. This will provide a tailored system for understanding the behaviour of marine mammals around operating tidal turbines and will enable data to be collected that will refine estimates of collision risk.

Further Information

June 14, 2016
by SG Admin
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Success is the sum of many parts.

Clare Smith – Chief Marketing Officer - @ClareBearAlert

It doesn’t get any better than being recognised by your peers for being great at what you do. And on Thursday night at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange the SG marketing team experienced just that as we collected the Marketing Society’s Star Team of the Year award.

It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work, and whilst we are deservedly delighted, we are also keen to share the shiny gold well beyond our messy desks here at St Andrew’s House.

Success is the sum of many parts.

It’s thanks to forward thinking policy colleagues that we get involved with a diverse range of projects – from encouraging people to sign the organ donation register to encouraging active travel – we’re always keen to work with all areas of government, to explore how marketing might help make an impact on improving lives in Scotland.

And as a small team we rely on the support and skills offered by some of Scotland’s best agencies – generating creative successful partnerships. With thanks to the loads of stakeholders and private sector organisations we collaborate with, delivering both services and channels to help get more bang for the marketing buck. And closer to home, thanks to colleagues in news, digital, finance, business support and contracts & procurement all help and contribute to this exciting win.

So thank you everyone, this really is a reflection of how a modern civil service should work collaboratively, across borders, sectors and departments, to make a real difference.  So forgive our bragging, we’re proud of all of us.
And lastly, congratulations to everyone who won and were nominated last Thursday – and thanks to the organisers, 600 marketing types in a room is no mean feat… is that a collective noun?