A new scheme to support occupational health among practice nurses and other primary care staff comes into force across Scotland from today.
The move, backed by £920,000, should mean that everyone who works for a GP practice in Scotland will now be able to access their local health board’s occupational health services free of charge.
“It will also help us to create a more sustainable workforce in the long-term”
Scottish health secretary Shona Robison made the commitment to the British Medical Association earlier this year, in recognition of the contribution that primary care staff made to the health service.
The funding for the scheme will be provided on a recurring basis from this year onwards, the government also announced.
NHS Scotland’s occupational health service helps staff with issues like posture, recovering from injuries, back pain, returning to work after illness and workplace assessments.
Through the service, employees have access to a range of specialists including occupational health nurse practitioners, physiotherapists, consultants and specialist registrars.
Ms Robison said primary care was a “highly valued” part of our healthcare system in Scotland, and that part of recognising this was looking after practice staff.
“Occupational health is a key part of that,” she said. “This additional funding will mean that our GP practice staff will be able to benefit from more effective occupational health.
“I acknowledge that working in GP surgeries has its challenges and, therefore, it’s quite right that these valued members of the NHS family are able to take full advantage of these services,” she said.
“It will also help us to create a more sustainable workforce in the long-term,” Ms Robison added.
Dr Alan McDevitt, chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP committee, said: “Measures that provide continued support to practices are very welcome.
He added: “I am delighted that the Scottish government has committed recurring funding to ensure that all our staff will have free access to the occupational health service.”