New poll reveals seven out of 10 Scottish heath workers believe government has failed to protect them from virus

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A POLL has revealed seven out of ten healthcare workers believe ministers have failed to protect them from Covid-19.

The YouGov research also found the pandemic has led to one in five of the vital staff in Scotland and the rest of the UK more likely to quit their job.

In a separate poll the general public called for a new Bank Holiday “to celebrate the debt we owe health workers” and to build on the momentum of ‘clap for carers’ with two-thirds of people showing support.

The findings for the Institute for Public Policy Research comes amid anger over low numbers of health and care workers being tested for coronavirus and shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).

It found 70 per cent of staff believe government has not done enough to “prevent and test for” the virus among the workforce, compared to just 24 per cent who think enough has been done.

The poll — of GPs, NHS staff, and agency workers — revealed 51 per cent of healthcare staff in Scotland said their mental health had deteriorated since the Covid-19 crisis began, and 44 per cent believe government has not done enough to protect their mental health needs.

Just 32 per cent said that enough has been done.

In a report accompanying the findings — called Care Fit for Carers — the think-tank is calling for a Covid-19 pay bonus of 10 per cent for all workers in health and care for 2020/21.

Russell Gunson, IPPR Scotland director, said: “If fighting coronavirus is like fighting a war then we must make sure we recognise our heroes this time round.

“Not in tokens of appreciation but in real recognition that improves the lives of health and care workers across Scotland.

“We need protection for physical and mental health now, but we need to make sure we provide the pay increases and general recognition across health and care that will show we really understand how important our key workers are to all of our everyday lives.”

While the poll did not specifically reference the Scottish Government, health and care are issues devolved to Holyrood.

Mr Gunson added: “The Scottish Government has done well to increase testing capacity in the most extreme of circumstances.

“But this progress is clearly not being felt by some frontline healthcare workers, so we need to do more to get the tests to the workers who need them.

“Providing home and mobile testing must be a priority over the coming days and weeks so that care workers who need to be tested can be, even if they don’t have access to a car or public transport.”

Asked if the outbreak made them more likely to want to leave the health and care sector, 20 per cent of respondents said “more likely to want to leave”, 15 per cent said “more likely to want to stay” while 61 per cent said it made “no difference”.

In a separate YouGov poll of the general public for the IPPR, 96 per cent agreed the government should introduce more support for healthcare workers’ physical and mental health.

And 88 per cent were in favour of more generous pay and leave entitlements.

The IPPR’s other policy asks include bringing social care workers onto NHS pay scales to offer wage increases and career opportunities.

Chris Thomas, IPPR Health Research Fellow and lead author of the report, said: “Our care heroes are making significant sacrifices to pull our country through the crisis.

“No one should have to put their health at risk because PPE is lacking.

“No one should face a mental health crisis because no support was there. And no one should face financial destitution while delivering our crisis response.”

The Scottish Government said “massive strides have been made in securing PPE and expanding testing” since the poll was conducted two weeks ago.

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