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by Staff reporter
08 July 2022
Five stories you may have missed this week

A&E waiting times revealed new pressures on the health service

Five stories you may have missed this week

It's been a busy week for news, with Boris Johnson's resignation dominating the headlines and social media debate.

But there's been a lot more going on. Here are five stories you may have missed:

TRADE: Scottish exports outperform the rest of the UK

There was positive news for the Scottish economy on Thursday when new figures revealed improvement in export figures.

Excluding oil and gas, Scottish total exports were up by 5.7 per cent, compared to a drop of 2.8 per cent for the UK as a whole. 

That's according to the HMRC Regional Trade Statistics for the year ending March 2022, compared to the year ending March 2020.

Scottish Trade Minister Ivan McKee hailed the £676m jump for the chemicals sector, with manufactured goods up by £215m and beverages rising by £196m, saying: "Our Export Growth Plan is undoubtedly working to offset the barriers we face as a result of being taken out of the EU, and if it wasn't for the drag of Brexit, our exports would be soaring."

RENEWABLES: Offshore boost as National Grid announces upgrades

National Grid ESO has confirmed the biggest network upgrade in 60 years as it prepares to install new power lines capable of bringing electricity generated by off-shore wind turbines to mainland homes and businesses.

The plan would deliver 50GW of power by 2030, it is claimed, and includes a new line from Loch Buidhe to Spittal, amongst others.

Most new off-shore wind farms currently deliver their own links to the grid, but National Grid ESO says a "holistic network design" will provide better connectivity and save £5bn in costs by 2030.

However, public consultations and environmental assessments will be needed if the plan is to progress and there are concerns about the impact on coastal communities, including some on the west coast of Scotland.

EDUCATION: Warning over college finances

Colleges must change to remain "financially stable in the long term", public finance watchdog Audit Scotland says.

A report found colleges have responded well to the pandemic, but that the number of students completing courses has dropped.

Funding for the coming academic year is down five per cent to £696m and the proportion of students dropping-out of courses has increased to almost 28 per cent.

Colleges Scotland says financial pressures will make it "difficult to continue to deliver the same volume of learning as in previous years".

Higher and Further Education Minister Jamie Hepburn says the Scottish Government will consider the report's findings carefully.

HEALTH: A&E waiting times hit new record

The Scottish Government has said the rising number of in-patients with Covid has affected A&E waiting times.

Public Health Scotland data revealed the number of people waiting longer than four hours for treatment has reached the highest level recorded.

More than 8,990 people were in that category for the week to 26 June. That's just 67.5 per cent of attendees and far lower than the Scottish Government's target of 95 per cent. 

This target has not been met since July 2020 and the Scottish Government said "nearly two-thirds of patients are being seen in our A&E departments within the four hour target".

But Scottish Conservative MSP Craig Hoy called the situation "simply unacceptable".

ENVIRONMENT: Guga hunt called off amidst bird flu outbreak

The bird flu outbreak that has caused the deaths of seabirds around Scotland's coast has led to the cancellation of the country's last annual guga hunt.

The tradition takes place in August on Sula Sgeir, 40 miles north of Ness on Lewis, and dates back to the 15th century, but will not go ahead this year.

In a normal year, around 2000 gannet chicks would be taken from the island.

The avian flu outbreak has been affecting bird populations on the Scottish coast, including sites in St Abbs, Lewis and Orkney.

The Scottish SPCA has previously called for an end to the practice of guga hunting.

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