Councils in Scotland are facing growing pressure on services due to staff shortages, with increasing numbers of people being told to self-isolate. 

Coined in the media as the “pingdemic”, it's been reported that businesses across the country are being affected by high staff absence rates as people are told to self-isolate by the NHS app, and now councils are facing similar issues. 

In West Lothian, all blue bin (plastics and paper) collections have been suspended for two weeks from July 23. 

It means households will miss one collection so West Lothian Council can priortise brown and grey bin collections.

West Lothian have said they do not have the resources to collect all 300,000 planned bin collections for the next two weeks, as ncreased levels of Covid-19 in the community have led to a significant number of staff absences, in particular a number of staff being advised to self-isolate. 

A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: "We regret that current staffing levels means we are unable to complete scheduled blue bins for the next two weeks. 

"Under these challenging circumstances, we believe suspending blue bin collections for a full cycle of two weeks is the best and fairest option possible.

"Every effort has been made to maintain the service, including redeploying additional staff from other council teams to assist. Unfortunately, this will not be enough to allow us to clear the backlog of collections and maintain all scheduled bin collections in the short-term.

"We are aware of other councils and businesses having similar issues with staffing due to Covid-19, so we would ask West Lothian residents for their patience and understanding at the present time."

READ MORE: Empty shelves spotted in Scottish stores as shortages start to bite

Edinburgh City Council confirmed that their glass collections were slighly behind schedule. A spokesperson said there had been "no changes to service" but there have been staff shortages. 

Meanwhile, Glasgow City Council are also in a similar position. 

A spokesperson said: "We're not in the position of suspending services but Covid cases are having an impact."

The number of people being alterted by Test and Protect after being identified as a primary contact of an infected person was 24,057 on the week ending July 18.

Howver, that is actually down from a peak on week ending June 27 – there were 54,325 ‘unique primary contacts’ identified and told to self-isolate.

East Lothian Council have been forced to change their garden waste collections from fortnightly to monthly and some public toilets have been closed. 

They cited self-isolation measures and annual leave due to the summer holidays as the reason for high staff absence rates. 

East Lothian Council are also struggling to recruit temporay staff from agencies. 


Depute Council Leader, Norman Hampshire, on Thursday urged residents and visitors to be both patient and understanding of the extreme pressures that the ongoing infection rates and restrictions arising from Covid guidelines continue to have on council services.

He said: "In common with many other local authorities and businesses we are still facing significant challenges providing essential services with some areas experiencing significant staff shortages through illness, self-isolation or care for dependents who are self-isolating.

“It is of course also the peak holiday season and I am aware of instances where employees have delayed or postponed annual leave to ensure cover within their service.

“I am equally aware of some frustration and dissatisfaction expressed regarding our current public toilet provision. Unfortunately, we have been hit by significant staff shortages and this, coupled with temporary staff not being available through recruitment agencies – something which other councils are also experiencing –has meant that we have had to reduce access atsome locations.

"This is far from our ideal situation but this matter has also been greatly compounded by the actions of a small minority of people who have abused both the toilet facilities and our attendants.”

“We too want to see a return to ‘normality’ but would appreciate some understanding of the intense pressures council staff are currently working under."

Similar pressures in East Lothian are also being experienced in the health and social care sector.

Iain Gorman, ELHSCP Operations Manager, said: ‘The rise in Covid infections has also impacted ELHSCP staff and those of its partners.

"We do have a higher number of staff off work at the moment than is usual, as do the organisations that we commission. However, we have still managed to maintain essential services to service-users."