Mental health support boost for emergency responders

Scottish Government commits £138,000 to extend wellbeing programme to police, ambulance & fire service staff

Wednesday 3rd July 2019

Frontline emergency workers will get access to tailored mental health support resources following the extension of a wellbeing and resilience programme.

The Scottish Government is committing £138,000 for the Lifelines Scotland initiative to extend to Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Lifelines Scotland was initially established in 2016 by NHS Lothian’s specialist trauma service, the Rivers Centre, to promote the resilience and wellbeing of volunteer emergency responders.

In May of this year a Unison Scotland survey of ambulance staff reported the service was in ‘critical condition’ with staff ‘at breaking point’.

Speaking to healthandcare.scot, Jeane Freeman said: “The Scottish Government has given the ambulance service an additional £6m for the last two years in order to improve the quality of vehicles and increase the number of paramedics – we are committed to increasing that number by 1,000. All of that is not about cuts – it’s about additional resources.”

Decisions taken by the UK Government have reduced the Scottish Government’s budget, the Health Secretary says.

The Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley MSP continued: “This is about – regardless of whether there are enough financial resources – the people in the service who are still going to confront difficult things – road traffic accidents, children who are being hurt, situations of violence and difficulty – in which they themselves need to be as well as they can be before, during and importantly, after.

This is part of caring for those members of our emergency services to help them do the job they are committed to doing and that they want to do really well.

“The idea is we recognise what we have already in place individually and collectively to be resilient and cope with ours jobs, but also be willing to say sometimes that doesn’t work, and we need more help.”

Making the announcement today, Ms Freeman said: “Extending the Lifelines Scotland programme will support the resilience and welfare of front-line responder staff in blue light services across the country, to ensure they feel supported, informed and valued.”

Organisations are being offered resources to help them embed wellbeing in their workplaces, while emergency service staff, their family and friends are being encouraged to access online information as well as training courses on wellbeing.

This will provide online information and resources for responders, their friends and family as well as training courses on wellbeing and resources to help organisations embed wellbeing in the workplace.

Tens of thousands of people work for Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and the Scottish Ambulance Service, providing vital services to our communities, saving lives and making a real difference every day,” says Linda Douglas, director of human resources and organisational development at the Scottish Ambulance Service.

However, their jobs can be physically, emotionally and psychologically demanding. Each of the emergency services take the mental health and wellbeing of their staff extremely seriously, and offer staff access to a range of support services and information.

We all welcome the extension of the Lifelines Scotland initiative to frontline staff as this funding will enable us to boost the support available to emergency responders.”

 

Pictured: Jeane Freeman and emergency service responders at the Springburn ambulance station in Glasgow