COVID-19 continues to impact the wellbeing of people across Scotland, with the most vulnerable in society bearing the brunt, according to new Scottish Government findings.

Released on April 4, the latest report – based on an Ipsos telephone survey of 1,006 adults over 16, conducted between January 16 and February 11 - deals with ‘Wave 4’, which took place shortly after a spike in cases resulting from the Omicron variant in late December 2021 and early January 2022. By this point, many restrictions were being eased, and all adults in Scotland had been offered two doses of Covid vaccine and a booster.

According to the report, many of the inequalities observed in previous waves remain apparent: “Those in deprived areas, those on lower incomes, disabled people, and unpaid carers all fare worse across a number of measures.”

On resilience to adversity, those who said they were likely to bounce back quickly from harder times were primarily those on higher incomes (89% of those on £52,000 or more, compared to 76% overall), those from rural areas (84%), and those over the age of 70 (82%). Those who found it harder were disabled people (60%), women (70%), and people on lower incomes (32%).

Average anxiety levels remain in line with March 2021, with 59% of respondents reporting feeling some level of anxiety the day prior to the survey. However, such anxiety was unevenly distributed: Mean anxiety was higher amongst people under 35, women, disabled people, those on low incomes and unpaid carers.

Respondents were particularly divided on their confidence regarding access to GPs, ambulances and Accident and Emergency services: 47% felt confident they could get a GP appointment in a timely manner, while 51% did not, with those in deprived areas least confident. 54% were confident if they needed an ambulance, it would arrive quickly, while 39% were not, and 51% felt they would be able to access Accident and Emergency care if they needed it, while 43% were less sure.

Neighbourhood cohesion remains high, with 84% - only a few percentage points in variance with previous survey results – agreeing they could rely on someone in their neighbourhood to help them, while 63% stating their neighbourhood had, in general, stayed the same since the start of the pandemic. However, those in the most deprived areas were more likely to say that their neighbourhoods got worse (33% compared with 12%).

Compared to previous surveys, far fewer people are feeling isolated, with only 25% saying they felt cut off from friends and family compared to 64% in May 2020 and 56% in March 2021, and 22% saying they found restrictions on socialising difficult to cope with, compared to 41% in March 2020 and 53% in March 2021.

Again, however, disabled people were more likely to feel cut off from family and friends (42% compared to 19% of non-disabled people), as were those on lower incomes (35% of those with household incomes under £15,600 and 32% of those on £15,600-£25,999).