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Messages to staff from Des Murray, Chief Executive


Tuesday 23 March 2021 has been dedicated as a National Day of Reflection to reflect on our collective loss, support those who’ve been bereaved and hope for a brighter future.

There will be a minute’s silence held at 12 noon.

Please watch a video from Des Murray, Chief Executive.


Please look out for this information on the range of internal communication platforms as we want you to be equipped to work remotely while considering your health, wellbeing and personal circumstances. It’s important you feel supported in the workplace – and if your workplace in the future, is at home – we want you to have access to as much information so that you have everything you need to do your job.


Tue 19 May 2020

A “National Wellbeing Hub” for the health and social care workforce, which will act as a ‘front door’ to the wide range of support and wellbeing resources available in Scotland.

It is a resource for the whole workforce, including unpaid carers, volunteers deployed within health and social care services, and their families.The Hub has been developed on the principles of Psychological First Aid, includes the following:

  • information which address the specific challenges health and social care staff are facing during COVID-19; ·
  • information about the factors which affect emotional and psychological wellbeing; ·
  • help for people to recognise their own “warning signs”; ·
  • self-care resources for staff and their colleagues, along with advice on how self-care can be implemented in the current circumstances (including video / audio clips); ·
  • information for friends, family and children who may have concerns about loved ones working in health and social care roles; and
  • signposting to help and support that is available to health and social care staff and unpaid carers, nationally, locally and within their own organisations.

The new hub can be found at: www.promis.scot 

Message from the chief executive:
Monday 11 May 2020

Dear colleague,

I wanted to take a moment to reiterate the guidance the council is following about coronavirus. You may have read or seen a difference in guidance over the last few days between the UK Government and the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government has responsibility for health and a range of other devolved matters in Scotland and it is essential that we all continue to follow the Scottish Government’s guidance. It has not changed substantially, apart from that people can exercise outside local to their home as often as they wish while maintaining a two-metre distance from anyone outside their household.

You can see more about the national guidance on the Scottish Government website.

If you are currently working from home you should continue to do so. There is no change to that advice.

We have begun the complex process of recovery, with the establishment of a group under the leadership of Robert Steenson, executive director for enterprise and communities. That group, with senior representatives across the council, has been charged with ensuring that statutory and essential services can recover quickly and safely in line with emerging guidance. The group is also examining where services may need to change in response to the ongoing management of coronavirus, including ongoing physical distancing, PPE requirements and the application of new technologies.

There is no doubt that many services will have to change the way they operate. Some buildings will have to change to make sure they are able to cope with an increased requirement to keep people safe and maintain physical distancing. Equally, where that is not possible, we will have to examine alternative options.

We will tell you when any of this guidance changes in a substantial way, either through an email like this, through your managers or on MyNL.co.uk. You can also see the messages we are sharing with members of the public on Twitter (twitter.com/nlcpeople) and Facebook (facebook.com/nlcpeople) as well as on the council website.

As you will already be aware, a process is now in place for testing of key workers. If you, or a member of your household, is showing symptoms of coronavirus you should let your manager know and a test can be arranged if you are in one of the council’s key worker categories.

Finally, I want to once again state my personal thanks and express my admiration for the work undertaken by you all as we continue to respond collectively to the immense challenges that coronavirus presents.  There is no doubt that the services you are providing are making a real difference to people and communities across North Lanarkshire.

Yours sincerely


Des Murray
Chief Executive


On Friday 10 April, North Lanarkshire Council, North Lanarkshire Health and Care Partnership, GMB, Unison and Unite issued a joint statement making clear that social and home care workers could wear a fluid resistant face mask along with other appropriate PPE where the person they were visiting or otherwise attending to was neither confirmed nor suspected of having COVID-19, if they consider doing so necessary to their own and the individual’s safety.

This advice has now been updated on the recommendation of the Director of Public Health for NHS Lanarkshire.

The wearing of a fluid resistant face mask is no longer at the discretion of individual home support workers but must be worn on all occasions when performing duties where a two-metre distance cannot be kept. This advice will be extended to all of the council’s framework providers of home support.

The reason for this change in guidance is that community testing for COVID-19 has shown a sustained community transmission, with some individuals testing positive, but showing no signs of having the virus. Adopting this strengthening of the use of PPE is for the protection of staff and service users.

This strengthening of the use of PPE is referred to as ‘table 4’ in the national guidance, which summarises recommendations for all settings where COVID-19 transmission is sustained. This also includes a home support worker’s discretion to use protective eyewear when they are liable to be working closely with a person where droplets from a cough or sneeze could be transferred.

North Lanarkshire Council, the North Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership and local representatives of the trades unions have met and fully endorse this position.

The council has secured a more sustained delivery of fluid resistant masks to ensure an appropriate supply for every home support worker carrying out their duties. It must still be recognised that there is a continued worldwide demand for these masks, so fluid resistant masks (known as Type IIR masks) should only be used for personal care and other tasks performed within the two-metre social distancing of the service user. They should not be used for any other activities.

The supply of appropriate fluid resistant eye protection is also available for every worker. This equipment must be cleaned using the supplied materials and instructions between every session, i.e. after every visit. If this equipment is damaged in any way it should be replaced before a new visit.

We continue to recognise the efforts that social and home care workers are making during the coronavirus pandemic. Our heartfelt thanks are extended to all these workers – and others providing critical services – during these unprecedented times. They have our full support.


Welcome to our monthly newsletter – We Aspire April

Please click on this link to view: https://sway.office.com/xGtZVaZndvhwi81N?ref=Link



The Scottish Government, with the joint trades unions and COSLA, has announced a collective commitment to the UK-wide guidance on the use of protective personal equipment (PPE).

In particular, that guidance makes clear that social and home care workers can wear a fluid resistant face mask along with other appropriate PPE where the person they are visiting or otherwise attending to is neither confirmed nor suspected of having COVID-19, if they consider doing so necessary to their own and the individual’s safety.

North Lanarkshire Council, the North Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership and local representatives of the trades unions have met and fully endorse this position.

Social and home care workers are professionals and we trust their professional judgement.

The supply of appropriate fluid resistant face masks for these workers is available: every worker will have a supply of masks over this weekend which meets the need and, if further need is identified on an individual basis, a process is in place to deliver more masks to workers who require them. We welcome the Scottish Government’s assurances about ongoing supply of PPE.

We also recognise the efforts that social and home care workers are making during the coronavirus pandemic. Our heartfelt thanks are extended to all these workers – and others providing critical services – during these unprecedented times. They have our full support.


Sent on behalf of Des Murray, Chief Executive

Dear colleague

As we head into what is undoubtedly an unusual Easter weekend, I just wanted to send a note to say thank you to all for your efforts.

Many of you will be in a position where the next four days are just like any other working day recently. You continue to provide exceptional services in the best way possible, and in doing so you are supporting people across North Lanarkshire.

I particularly want to thank the approximately 600 staff who have volunteered to carry out roles different for their day-to-day work. You will know from my email earlier this week that this dedication and flexibility is crucial to our response to coronavirus. As a reminder of my message, if you feel you could do this please speak to your line manager in the first instance.

Whatever this Easter weekend holds for you, whether you are working or able to have some time off, please know that I am very grateful for all you are doing.

Yours sincerely


Des Murray
Chief Executive


Message from Des Murray

We need your help.

If you are available for work because your work has been stood down or you are working from home in a less time sensitive service, you will shortly be approached by your manager (or indeed you can speak to your manager yourself) to provide temporary support to one of our current essential service areas. These are services that are critical to the people of North Lanarkshire at this time.

This may involve work in housing or the community hubs, helping with shielding services like driving, or providing admin support.

This could also extend to an opportunity to work in home support. This may give you the opportunity to work different hours to support your caring responsibilities or to train for a different role altogether.

We would ask you to embrace opportunities to support these crucial areas and to support colleagues who have been tirelessly working in them for some weeks already. Many of your colleagues are already carrying out different roles and this contribution is essential.

If you do have an underlying health condition and are currently isolating, you will not be asked to volunteer for these roles.

For more information please have a look at our dedicated pages on myNL:

How staff will be paid when working in a different service

Supporting essential services

Thank you for everything you are doing to help deal with this emergency.

Des Murray


Dear colleague

It’s obvious that life has changed for all of us, both personally and professionally, in the last few weeks.

I just wanted to write to say a huge thank you for your efforts. Like me, you will have other concerns about family, friends and colleagues as we adjust to the very necessary measures the government has taken. But your dedication, professionalism and flexibility has been simply incredible.

What we have achieved together has been astonishing. Thousands of young people accessing online learning; full operation of town hubs, meaning that the children of key workers across the NHS and other services can be supported while their parents and carers carry out vital work; a solution to the challenge of providing free school meals.

Meanwhile, we are now mobilising to support those most vulnerable people across North Lanarkshire who will need food and medicines delivered, and other support too. These efforts will also be led from our hubs, working closely with voluntary sector partners and other agencies in a true team approach.

There are too many individual areas to mention here, but you are also providing other critical services in unprecedented times. Unlike in many other councils, a normal kerbside waste collection is being maintained. Social work support for both children and adults is being provided to the people who desperately need that support. You have provided assistance and advice to hundreds of businesses. These are just a few examples.

And you’ve done all this while working in new ways, many of you from home, many of you working unusual hours. On that subject, I’ve made it clear to the council’s senior management just how essential it is that people take a proper break. While it’s tempting to work constantly to support residents in this emergency, it’s not sustainable in the long term. We could be dealing with coronavirus for some time yet. As I said in my last update, our services, and the way you work, will continue to evolve throughout this period.

Please do take a look at the health and wellbeing resources on MyNL.co.uk, on Connect and on the council website. These resources are there to help you.

Many of you are not only employees but also residents. All the information about the council’s services and supports is available at www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk/coronavirus. And you can help by following and sharing the council’s social media content either on Twitter (@nlcpeople) or on Facebook (facebook.com/nlcpeople).

I am very proud to be a member of a team that has stepped up to deal with the impact of coronavirus, finding new ways of working and new solutions to issues we hadn’t had to consider before.

Thank you again for all your efforts.

Des Murray
Chief Executive


Dear colleagues,

I have always believed in the public service ethos.

Over the last few days, I have been humbled by the compassion and efforts of staff from across all of our services.  While we are all directly affected by this pandemic, be it our personal health, our loved ones or the economic impacts already being felt across our wider community, we have shown great strength and resilience.

Imagine a situation where we do not have enough people to support our waste services and the new public health crisis that would quickly unfold, our school meals, cleaning services, emergency housing repairs, children’s houses, payroll, social care, our cemeteries, our home care teams. The list is endless.

They are all essential.

We are already working to move people, with their agreement and with the best support we can provide, between the services most heavily affected to date by closure, to those desperately in need of additional staff and resource.  This work is happening across the public sector.  We are also trying to align these new opportunities to those who have recently lost their primary income due to employers having to either temporarily shut down or, indeed, cease trading.   

Our schools are at the frontline of the impacts unfolding across our staff and communities.  They are also essential to providing the supports our communities so desperately need.

This includes helping key workers being able to sustain their roles in dealing with coronavirus. Later today, we will publish a list of key workers. It will include people across our communities who not only support critical health and council services, but who work in logistics and transport, in infrastructure and in other industries which support North Lanarkshire and the country as a whole.

Our schools are critical to the response to coronavirus. They provide, and must continue to provide, learning. I know that pupils and staff working towards exams are distressed and uncertain about the decision for those exams to be cancelled. But coursework and individual assessment needs to be delivered so that pupils can be affected as little as possible.

Schools have some of our best digital connectivity. There has been a huge amount of work in progressing work for children who will be at home so that they can continue to access learning. That work must continue.

Schools will be the focal point for community support in the weeks ahead. They will continue to feed and look after some of our most vulnerable children. In the coming weeks we will be able to provide other critical services from these buildings to those most desperately in need. Public transport is already limited, and will be even more so. The ability to offer advice, for example benefits and money advice, and support at the heart of communities will be vital.

That is why all our schools will be open to staff on Monday. We simply don’t know what level of demand we will have from categories of key workers. We must provide learning. We must provide for vulnerable children. As next week develops, I expect we will fully close some of those buildings and move services to other buildings. That assessment will be ongoing throughout the week.

Over the last 48 hours, I have been inundated with offers of support. Staff wishing to salary sacrifice, to give to those in desperate need, part-time workers offering to use their free days, unpaid, to come in and support essential service delivery to allow funds to be directed at our most at risk.  Private businesses, having to close, but wanting to offer their staff and supplies to help feed our communities.  It is a privilege to be the Chief Executive in an organisation and a place filled with such individuals.

But we will need to do more.

While we will continue to be led by rapidly-emerging national policy, our job is to find the solutions that best meet our needs and those of North Lanarkshire’s people.  We need our managers, head teachers and supervisors to lead at a local level like never before.  They will know best how to maintain critical services within their areas of expertise and responsibility, making best use of our policies and rolling guidance while balancing local staffing circumstances.

I would like to ask all staff due to retire in the coming weeks and months to stay if you are able. We have never faced, and hopefully will never face again, the enormous challenge in front of us. We need your extensive knowledge, experience, skills and resources to support the people of North Lanarkshire.  If you would like to do this, please speak with your manager in the first instance.

We are publishing as many updates as we can on Connect, by email, on First Class and on MyNL. Please keep an eye on these channels. I’m also conscious about how much information we need to give you, and about information overload. We will continue to share health and wellbeing advice.

Across services, work is going on to ensure that, where it is possible, homeworking will happen. There are challenges around this which we are working through. Telecommunications networks across the country are under strain like never before and that means people will not always be able to log onto our systems as normal. Please be patient and also follow any guidance about specific time slots for remote access where these are given.

In closing, we all have decisions to make that strike balance and support own circumstances, across health, family and work.  I’m very proud to be part of this team, and in that team lies incredible strength. We serve the people of North Lanarkshire and I know we will continue to do that in these hugely uncertain times.

Thank you.

Des Murray
Chief Executive




You will be aware of the Scottish Government announcement today that schools will close at the end of Friday March 20. The government has also announced that details of how vulnerable people can be supported, arrangements for children of key workers and support for those working towards SQA exams will be made available soon.

We are working closely with the government through the Association of Directors of Education Scotland and COSLA to ensure we can meet these aims. We are also working on plans to support wider communities.

You will appreciate that this is a very fast-moving situation, and as soon as we have certainty about how these plans will work we will be in contact with you. While schools will be very different, we will still have a duty to provide services to those who need them most.

To be clear, it is essential that all employees (including teachers) who are not self-isolating under government guidance and who are otherwise well should report to their place of work on Monday.

Although it is recognised that this change in circumstances may give rise to additional caring requirements, it should be acknowledged that the council is a Category 1 responder under the Civil Contingencies Act and this means we have particular legal duties and powers to respond to an emergency and a duty to continue to deliver services which members of the public rely on. Access to the Council’s special leave policy can be found here.

You are all part of a significant collective effort to provide vital services. Your support and effort now and in the very difficult times to come are hugely appreciated. We may need to adapt what we do in the coming weeks and months and your flexibility and willingness to help each other will be critical to people in communities across North Lanarkshire.

We will provide further details in respect of schools and the government’s aims as soon as possible.

Thank you


Des Murray
Chief Executive

For manager guidance relating to our response to the Coronavirus infection, please click here.



Firstly, a thank you. Now, and over the coming weeks and months, you will deliver critical public services at a time when they have never been more vital. I am hugely appreciative of that work.

Coronavirus represents the biggest challenge we will face in delivering those services. You will be anxious about family members, friends and colleagues, as I am. Life – and work – will be very different over the coming months. The council is a Category 1 responder under the Civil Contingencies Act. This means we have particular legal duties and powers to respond to an emergency. We also have a duty to continue to deliver services which members of the public rely on.

My aim is that we will communicate key decisions about service delivery to you as clearly as we can. You will appreciate, though, that this is an extremely fast-changing situation and what is true today may not be true tomorrow. For the time being, there are some key things you should be aware of, particularly in light of changes in government policy.

Click on the links below for specific guidance.

Please look out for further emails as we all work together through the coming challenges. These updates will also be posted to myNL (www.myNL.co.uk) which is accessible from any device.

Thank you again for all the work you do to deliver vital public services to the people of North Lanarkshire.

Yours sincerely,

Des Murray
Chief Executive

Coronavirus symptoms

If you have developed a new continuous cough and/or a fever/high temperature in the last seven days, you should stay at home for seven days from the start of your symptoms, even if you think the symptoms are mild.

Phone your GP if symptoms:

  • are severe or you have shortness of breath
  • worsen during home isolation
  • have not improved after 7 days

Phone your GP if you develop breathlessness or it worsens, especially if you:

  • are 60 years old or over
  • have underlying poor health
  • have heart or lung problems
  • have a weakened immune system, including cancer
  • have diabetes

If you GP practice is closed, phone NHS 24 (111). You should not visit a hospital or GP practice.

Anyone who has a medical emergency should phone 999 and tell them they have COVID-19 symptoms.

If a member of staff with symptoms of COVID-19 lives in a household with other people

If you have been symptomatic, then you may end your self-isolation after 7 days. The 7-day period starts from the day when you first became ill.

If living with others, then all household members who remain well may end household-isolation after 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day illness began in the first person to become ill. Fourteen days is the incubation period for coronavirus; people who remain well after 14 days are unlikely to be infectious.

After seven days, if the first person to become ill feels better and no longer has a high temperature, they can return to their normal routine. If any other family members become unwell during the 14-day household-isolation period, they should follow the same advice – ie after seven days of their symptoms starting, if they feel better and no longer have a high temperature, they can also return to their normal routine.

Should a household member develop coronavirus symptoms late in the 14-day household-isolation period (eg on day 13 or day 14) the isolation period does not need to be extended, but the person with the new symptoms has to stay at home for 7 days.

The 14-day household-isolation period will have greatly reduced the overall amount of infection the rest of the household could pass on, and it is not necessary to re-start 14 days of isolation for the whole household. This will have provided a high level of community protection. Further isolation of members of this household will provide very little additional community protection.

At the end of the 14-day period, any family member who has not become unwell can leave household isolation.

If any ill person in the household has not had any signs of improvement and have not already sought medical advice, they should contact NHS 111 online. If your home has no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

The cough may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean someone must continue to self-isolate for more than 7 days

Home working

The UK and Scottish Governments have said that, where possible, people should work from home. The council will facilitate this where it is possible and where it is appropriate in light of service needs. That decision will be for heads of service to make, and guidance for managers on home working will be issued. Their views on home working for particular staff or groups of staff will be communicated to you. It is, of course, not possible for everyone to work from home and you will be expected to come to work if required and if you are well. However, to minimise as much contact as possible in these situations I have instructed that meetings should not take place if there is not a critical need in terms of operating services.


The current Scottish Government position is that schools should remain open. This position remains under review at national level and we will follow the Scottish Government’s guidance.

Good Hygiene Practices for Staff

They key advice on protecting yourself and others from any respiratory virus is to:

  • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze.
  • Bin the tissue.
  • To kill germs, wash your hands with soap and water, or use a sanitiser gel. Visit the Hand Hygiene article for more information.
Updated on 22nd March 2021

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