I’d Rather my Covid Bonus Went to Care Home Workers Who Deserve a Permanent Pay Rise

Dr Roddy Neilson | Consultant Haematologist, Forth Valley Royal Hospital

It’s a bit of an understatement to say that the NHS in Scotland is currently living in interesting times.

Nobody would have wished a pandemic like Covid on anyone but, as a hospital doctor, it’s been humbling to see the extra effort everybody in the NHS has made in dealing with this along with the efforts of shopkeepers, taxi firms and food outlets in keeping things going.

The messages from the Scottish Government have been pretty clear too – stay home and save lives. Nobody can really argue with that.

I would suggest a change, however, to one of its policies. Health and Social Care staff are to receive a £500 bonus from the Scottish Government to thank them for their efforts, the announcement of this being made in last November. While nobody would begrudge that payment to some workers the award of it to already well-paid medical staff is causing disquiet among my colleagues.

Personally, I see no reason why I should get an extra £500 (actually less than £300 after tax but that’s another story) for doing my job when I’m already getting paid more than other NHS workers already.

There are about 160,000 healthcare workers in Scotland meaning that the cost of this will be, for NHS Staff alone, some £80M. For the money that is to go to doctors you could increase the salaries of care home workers longer term – surely a better use of the cash.

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