Letter to Neil Gray MSP (Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care: Welcome and Priorities for the Future of Healthcare in Scotland

Dear Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care,

Welcome and Priorities for the Future of Healthcare in Scotland


On behalf of the National Association of Link Workers (NALW), I extend a warm welcome to you as the
Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care. Your appointment comes at a critical
juncture in our healthcare system, and we are eager to collaborate with you to address the pressing
challenges and opportunities ahead.


First and foremost, we wish to express our sincere gratitude to the Scottish Government for their swift
action in resolving the Glasgow link workers crisis and ensuring job security for our affected members.
The three-year funding extension is a testament to the commitment to our healthcare workforce and
patients, and we commend the efforts of all involved in reaching this resolution.


However, as we look towards the future, we must emphasise the importance of sustainability and
continuity in funding for link workers across Scotland. At a time when the healthcare system is under
pressure, there should be no jeopardy to the job security of direct patient care staff. We need ring-fenced central funding that guarantees the long-term presence of link workers in our healthcare system
to continue to transform lives. Link workers are not an optional addition; they are an integral part of the
NHS’s long-term workforce plan in England. We urge for their recognition and inclusion in Scotland’s
health and care workforce staffing, projections, and sustained funding rather than temporary
arrangements, which impact morale, continuity of care for patients, and disempower the members of the
Multi-Disciplinary Team they work with.


The current ratio of link workers to patients in Scotland falls short of our desired standard. With a
minimum of 591 link workers needed to serve Scotland’s registered patients, we must expand the
workforce to ensure holistic healthcare delivery and mitigate the growing mental well-being challenges
facing our communities, focusing on practical preventative work and unlocking good health and
prosperity.


We call upon you to acknowledge the pressing urgency of transforming the healthcare system to address
the multifaceted issues of mental health, illness management, over-medicalisation of life issues and
social inequalities. Our general election manifesto outlines our vision for a healthcare system that is
inclusive, sustainable, and responsive to the needs of all Scots.

In conclusion, we kindly request your response to the following questions:

  1. What steps will the Scottish Government take to ensure sustainable and ring-fenced funding for
    link workers across Scotland?
  2. How does the Scottish Government plan to address the shortage of link workers and achieve the
    desired ratio of one link worker per 10,000 patients so access isn’t based on postcode?
  3. Will link workers be included in the statutory guidance for health and care staffing and workforce
    plan and projections in Scotland?

We look forward to your prompt response and working collaboratively to build a healthier and prosperous
Scotland.


Yours sincerely,
Christiana Melam MBE
Chief Executive Officer

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