Emergency Workers (Mental Ill Health)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 28th February 2019.

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Photo of Alex Cole-Hamilton Alex Cole-Hamilton Liberal Democrat

8. To ask the Scottish Government what proportion of emergency workers’ time is lost due to mental ill health. (S5O-02936)

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

Information on the proportion of time lost to mental ill health is not held centrally. The recording and management of absence is undertaken by emergency services bodies in their capacity as employers. Effective health and wellbeing support is vitally important, which is why our police, fire and ambulance services, along with other NHS Scotland boards, have policies in place so that staff can access support when it is needed.

Photo of Alex Cole-Hamilton Alex Cole-Hamilton Liberal Democrat

We know from recent reports that the number of staff days lost due to mental ill health among our hard-working emergency workers is rising, but that is not the only reason why time is lost. On a recent visit to Drylaw Mains police station in my constituency, the chief inspector told me that he was very concerned about the number of hours lost at shift time when officers attending a situation in which mental ill health was a factor were having to stay with a person in hospital for several hours, until they were discharged of that duty.

Will the minister work with Police Scotland to review that situation and the regulations around police attending situations in which mental ill health is a factor?

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

It is important that we look at all the effects of mental illness and mental ill health across services. My area is one of three in Scotland that are piloting distress brief interventions, in which people who present to emergency services can access next-day support. That is being evaluated but, anecdotally and from the evidence that we have so far, that project is working very well, and the emergency services, including the local police, very much support the way in which it is assisting them in their duties.

The Presiding Officer:

Before we turn to First Minister’s question time, I invite members to join me in welcoming to the gallery the Hon Stephen Rodan MLC, President of Tynwald.