Scottish Bill fails to protect health workers in the community

Professional groups denounce Emergency Workers Bill which does not protect non emergency workers from assault.

Leaders of Scotland’s doctors, nurses and midwives have criticised the Scottish Executive for failing to protect vital healthcare workers under legislation to be debated in the Scottish Parliament this week.

The British Medical Association, Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives (RCM) claim that the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Bill, which makes it a specific offence to assault an emergency worker, will leave some staff unprotected by the law.

The Bill provides protection to doctors, nurses, midwives and anyone assisting them at all times while on duty in a hospital. However, staff based in the community are only protected when attending to an emergency.

The BMA claims that more than 90 per cent of patient contacts happen in the community setting.

Gillian Lenaghan, National Officer of the RCM (Scotland), said the legislation would create a clear division between hospital- and community-based healthcare workers.

“It fails to recognise that midwives, doctors and nurses working in the community and in people’s homes are working in isolation and do not have the promise of security afforded to hospital-based staff,” she said.

“We will have members who are expected to attend planned home births throughout the day and night without the support of any security services,” Lenaghan said.

“Midwives and other healthcare workers need the protection this legislation will provide wherever they deliver their skills if they are to fulfil the government’s promise of increased choice to women and families within maternity services and deliver services locally.”

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