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Under Scottish Ministers’ plans, some Scottish NHS staff who have worked hard during the coronavirus pandemic could have to travel south of the border, potentially hundreds of miles, for crisis mental health treatment. Staff will also face costly prescription charges of £9.15 if any treatment is needed.
The stark findings were revealed as part of an £8million package of measures to improve wellbeing, including dedicated services for health and social care staff.
Under the measures, announced by Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf last month, NHS staff will also have access to a crisis helpline and counselling.
The policy document stated that staff who require specialised treatment such as addictions therapy “may involve travelling to England to one of the government’s approved providers”.
Annie Wells, Scottish Conservative health spokesman said that SNP led Scottish Government ministers showed a “negligent attitude” towards the wellbeing of NHS Staff.
The Glasgow Regional list MSP, added: “This negligent attitude from the SNP towards the wellbeing of our NHS staff is appalling and quite frankly inexcusable.
“Humza Yousaf has shown he is completely out of touch with their needs at a time when they should be the highest priority and he has serious questions to answer.
“Despite everything NHS staff have done for us during the pandemic, the SNP Government think it’s perfectly acceptable for those working in the sector to be out of pocket for prescriptions while travelling hundreds of miles for appointments.
“The SNP needs to clean up its act and change this now not later – this isn’t an issue that can be dithered on.”
Jackie Baillie MSP, Scottish Labour deputy leader, added: “After everything NHS and social care staff have had to face during the pandemic, access to specialist support is a good idea.
“However, the SNP should have put the work into setting up a service that actually works for Scottish staff instead of piggybacking off the English one.
“These half-baked proposals could see staff being out of pocket for prescriptions and travelling miles for appointments.
“We need clarity urgently on how this will work in practice and when services will be available in Scotland.”
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In response, the Scottish Government said the arrangements of sending certain NHS staff to England was only an interim measure.
A spokesman added: “The wellbeing of health and social care staff is a key priority, and we are committed to supporting them now and into the future.
“That is why we are offering an unprecedented package of wellbeing support totalling £8million, which will continue the 24/7 National Wellbeing Helpline, the National Wellbeing Hub and Coaching for Wellbeing as well as developing further practical support measures and additional resources for boards.
“The Workforce Specialist Service is being delivered digitally on an interim basis by NHS Practitioner Health while the service is designed to integrate in the Scotland healthcare system.
“It is a primary care-led mental health service for regulated health and social care professionals who can experience barriers to accessing confidential care.
“We are keeping this interim provision under review to ensure that it is as accessible as possible to those health and social care professionals who need it.”
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