Local News for Friday 25th March 2016

Inspection report shows work needed
Services for older people in the Western Isles need ‘significant improvement’ according to a report published this week by the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland. A joint inspection in April and June last year looked at how well the health and social work services partnership between NHS Western Isles and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar were working. This week’s report from the inspectors listed some positives, but also outlined crucial areas for improvement. Of nine key areas, inspectors rated only one as ‘good’ and five as ‘adequate’. Three indicators were evaluated as weak and the report contains twelve recommendations for improvement. The report comes just a few days ahead of new working arrangements under an Integrated Joint Board, which takes over the reins on health and social care from April 1st. They’ll be faced with addressing what the report called "important weaknesses” including delayed discharge from hospital and long waits for home care support or a place at a care home. Early diagnosis of dementia and support to carers also needed to be improved, but the report said front-line health and social work staff were well motivated and worked well together.

Point and Sandwick energy scheme
Point and Sandwick could become the first LED ‘low energy’ community in the UK, thanks to a project jointly organised by Point and Sandwick Trust and Tighean Innse Gall.  The LED Energy Communities project aims to reduce energy consumption and cut bills for everyone living in the area by visiting every household in the district to supply and install a set of energy-efficient LED lights. The project will run for five years, with £375,000 from PST and nearly £72,000 in the first year coming from the Climate Challenge Fund. It’s expected that 2000 LED lights will be installed every year of the project. At the same time each home will get an Energy Performance Certificate and thermal imaging will help identify heat loss areas, with householders advised how to save energy and money. Angus McCormack, chairman of Point and Sandwick Trust, said: "This is a key project for PST since it is aimed at the residents of Point and Sandwick directly and it will have a significant effect on energy consumption and bills. In close partnership with Tighean Innse Gall every house in Point and Sandwick will be visited and bespoke advice offered over the course of the next five years”.
Mobile phone coverage will improve – O2
The mobile phone operator O2 have explained their plans to improve signal coverage in the Western Isles, and to bring 4G services to island customers. At a meeting in the islands this week representatives of parent firm Telefonica UK explained their intention to upgrade 29 masts, to provide 4G coverage throughout the island chain during 2016. Some planning applications have already been submitted, but the whole plan is dependent on permissions and agreements with site providers. The islands’ Westminster representative, Angus MacNeil MP, said: “I was very encouraged by this meeting and, although Telefonica concede that the upgrade programme does present challenges, they gave a clear commitment that they are doing all they can to improve coverage for customers in Na h-Eileanan an Iar.”
Easter Rising marked on BBC Alba
The centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in the Republic of Ireland is to be marked on BBC ALBA from tonight with a four-part series, ‘Easter Rising’,  portraying the personalities that brought it about. The award-winning programme was originally produced by Abú Media for TG4, with the Gaelic version produced by Mactv for BBC ALBA. It starts tonight at 10pm and further episodes will be broadcast each Friday.