The Scottish government has announced £8m in funding to support the wellbeing of health and social care staff; an increase of £3m allocated for the same purpose in 2020/2021.
The government said the funding will “support staff wherever they work in the system, from acute hospital wards to community settings” and will also help pay for “a number of immediate recovery actions and lead to the development of a national wellbeing programme”.
Priorities include further development of the National Wellbeing Hub, which provides resources for people working in health and social care — including pharmacy staff — and the National Wellbeing Helpline, as well as psychological interventions and therapies for staff.
The money will also support “time and training for staff to support each other as teams”, and “more practical support for staff like rest spaces”.
The Scottish government added that £2m of this funding will be allocated for primary care and social care, “in recognition of the specific needs of staff working in those services in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic”.
In March 2021, a study of 1,194 frontline healthcare staff from across the UK, including pharmacists, found that 58% reported experiencing mental health problems, with experts warning that the health service “may be on the verge of a mental health crisis”.
Clare Morrison, director of Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Scotland, said the Society was “delighted to see this increase in funding to support the wellbeing of health and care staff in Scotland”.
“Workforce wellbeing is an important issue that RPS Scotland has been raising awareness of for some time. We have met with the Scottish government’s national adviser for workforce wellbeing, and he came to an RPS wellbeing action group meeting in May 2021.
“We were particularly impressed that he sought advice on how to improve the accessibility of the National Wellbeing Hub services for pharmacy,” she said.
“It is clear that pharmacists in Scotland already benefit from the support and resources available through the hub, and we encourage pharmacists to use this excellent service.”
Humza Yousaf, Scottish cabinet secretary for health and social care, said: “Health and social care staff have responded to the pandemic with extraordinary fortitude, often working in unfamiliar settings, learning new skills and undertaking new roles. We owe them a great debt of gratitude for their continued hard work, commitment and professionalism.”
Yousaf added that the pandemic has “affected staff in a range of ways and this £8m package of support will help us meet the basic practical and emotional needs, which workers tell us is right for them, alongside more specialised mental health support where this is needed”.