Unite Scotland 'demands' Scottish Ambulance Service control room and NHS24 staff to be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine
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TRADE union Unite Scotland has 'demanded' that Scottish Ambulance Service control room and NHS24 staff be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine.
The union, which is the United Kingdom's biggest with around 150,000 members, has made the call due to growing fears over potential outbreaks, which could bring the nation’s emergency response units to a shutdown.
Around 500 workers are employed by the Scottish Ambulance Service as control room handlers and around 1650 workers are employed at NHS24.
The Scottish Government has argued that both workforces are not ‘patient facing’ and do not qualify for the immediate prioritisation of the vaccination programme.
However, Unite believes that, if a Covid-19 outbreak were to happen, then the nation's emergency response capabilities could be significantly compromised.
Unite's Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: “The reality is that if any outbreak of Covid-19 occurred among SAS control room staff or NHS24 workers then the nation’s emergency response capabilities could in effect grind to a halt putting lives at risk.
"There is no sound rationale at all for the Scottish Government stating that the workers are not to be prioritised because they are not ‘patient facing’.
"Without these workers we do not have an effective patient-facing operation across our health and emergency response services.
"Therefore, we are demanding that the Scottish Government fix this mistake immediately and afford these workers the same protections."