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Tory calls for sleep pods in hospitals to improve NHS staff wellbeing

Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs made the plea in a debate at Holyrood.

Tories have called for sleep pods to be installed in hospitals after a junior doctor was killed driving home after a night shift (Peter Byrne/PA)
Tories have called for sleep pods to be installed in hospitals after a junior doctor was killed driving home after a night shift (Peter Byrne/PA)

Sleep pods should be installed in Scotlands hopsitals as part of a “more holistic” approach to NHS staff wellbeing, the Tories have suggested.

Health spokesman Miles Briggs made the plea  and referenced the death of junior doctor Lauren Connelly, who was killed in a car accident as she drove home after a night shift in 2011.

Mr Briggs said: “Sometimes in politics there are cases that make you stop and think about how we need to collectively do something to bring about a change.”

Installing sleep pods in hospitals would allow tired staff to rest before having to get behind the wheel, he argued.

People working in our NHS are superheroes in many people’s eyes but they are not superhuman Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs

Mr Briggs said: “Lauren was killed after her car veered off the M8 motorway as she drove home from a 12-hour night shift at Inverclyde Royal Hospital in Greenock.

“Dr Connolly, from East Kilbride, had been working just seven weeks in her medical training at that time.

“It tragically highlighted the fears over long working hours and fatigue faced by so many who work in our NHS, with staff often frequently working exhausting 100 hour weeks and shift patterns of 12 consecutive days.”

He added: “People working in our NHS are superheroes in many people’s eyes but they are not superhuman.

The Conservative MSP stressed the “need to understand the severe pressures that NHS staff are under and how this negatively impacts on their own health and wellbeing”.

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Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs. (Jane barlow/PA)

His calls were backed by other opposition MSPs, with Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon saying her party would “always support our health and social care staff to get the working conditions they deserve and the work-life balance that they need”.

Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnston said: “It’s clear that workforce pressures are severely impacting the wellbeing of health and social care workers. That’s the message that’s coming from those on the frontline.”

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton stated: “Although sometimes we attack government policy and sometimes the governance of our health boards, we never ever attack the work of our frontline staff – they are heroes of our country.

“There just aren’t enough of them, there is a workforce crisis

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said she would be “happy” to order a review of the support available for NHS staff, as suggested by the Conservatives.

And while she said the NHS workforce was at a record high, she added that Brexit posed a “threat” to this.

“Free movement is vital for us to continue to attract dedicated professionals to help deliver these services,” Ms Freeman told Holyrood.

But Mr Briggs insisted: “After 12 years in charge of our Scottish NHS, SNP ministers need to accept they have presided over a workforce crisis which is impacting on the wellbeing of NHS staff today.”

PA

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