Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today warned of the “tremendous toll” of mental ill health among ambulance staff, as he revealed that the number of working days lost has increased by more than 150% since 2017.
Figures from the Scottish Ambulance Service, uncovered by Scottish Liberal Democrats under freedom of information legislation, reveal that there were 8,356 working days lost due to mental health related reasons in 2020 (as of 16 December), up from 3,288 in 2017, an increase of 154%.
These figures follow previous investigations from the party documenting rising mental health absences among school staff and police officers.
Earlier this week Scottish Liberal Democrats led Parliament in declaring a mental health crisis for the first time, defeating the SNP Government in the process.
Commenting on the figures, Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“These figures show the tremendous toll that mental ill health was taking before the pandemic on our brave paramedics, care assistants and technicians. As they put themselves on the frontline of the pandemic, it is little surprise that 2020 was tougher still for many of them.
“The pandemic radically changed their workload and how they approached each situation.
"Early in the pandemic Scottish Liberal Democrats proposed new 24/7 mental health support for all health and social care staff, and we were pleased to see this go live in July. It is just one example of how we have been working constructively to put recovery first.
"The declaration by the Parliament this week of a mental health crisis was an important moment. For the same reason MSPs have declared a climate emergency and a drugs death crisis, Parliament needed to do this to drive change, ramp up services and improve interventions and prevention. It should be the platform for the transformation of mental health that Scottish Liberal Democrats have consistently fought for.
"Ambulance staff are among the many workers that we are relying on to respond to both the pandemic and the mental health crisis, but in doing so we need to have a needle-sharp focus on helping them with their own health."