Welcoming the Scottish Government’s announcement that there will be a dedicated workforce specialist service for healthcare workers, BMA Scotland chair Dr Lewis Morrison said: “BMA Scotland has been pursuing a dedicated health service for doctors in Scotland for a number of years, to bring us in line with other parts of the UK. The past few months in particular have shown us that we must never take our NHS workers for granted – when they become unwell, we must ensure that they have access to the care they need to help them recover, and return to their vital roles as soon as possible.
“It is so important for them to have somewhere they can go for confidential advice and mental health support if and when they need it. It can often be difficult for doctors to access healthcare completely confidentially – for example if they need to attend an appointment, whether in a primary or secondary care setting – it is highly likely they will meet someone they know, perhaps even some of their own patients and as such it’s tricky for them to maintain a level of anonymity in a GP or hospital waiting room. There is evidence that the lack of anonymity deters some healthcare workers from seeking medical advice at all – particularly if it is a mental health issue – so this specialist service will be vital. I am pleased that the Scottish Government has listened, acknowledged and acted on this. We will of course be monitoring the development and implication closely, and providing input where needed to ensure it works effectively for doctors who need it and is up and running as soon as possible. There can rarely have been a more important time for a service like this, due to the serious toll the last few months will have had on the health and care workforce and with a potentially hugely challenging winter just round the corner.
“It is important to bear in mind that without well looked after staff, whose mental and physical health and wellbeing is at the forefront of workforce planning, the NHS cannot continue to work the way it currently does. Caring for patients is a doctor’s top priority: caring for doctors, and all other health and care staff, therefore must be a national priority.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.