Wanted: Walking guru .. must have driving licence
WANTED: A walking co-ordinator for Lothian (must have driving licence).
The latest bid to get Lothian residents healthy has come under fire, both jocular and serious.
NHS Lothian has teamed up with the city council to offer the 26,000-a-year job to a graduate to promote the benefits of walking in the Lothians.
Along with the irony of requiring a driving licence for such a role, questions have been raised over whether a person is needed show the public where they can walk and explain why they should – and whether the money could be better spent in local health services.
Details of the role, which were obtained through Freedom of Information by the Evening News, also stated that the successful applicant would have the physical ability to handle and transport bulky goods, have a "high level of concentration required on an ongoing basis during meetings", and be able to respond to unexpected work demands.
The Conservatives' health spokeswoman, Mary Scanlon MSP, led the derision.
She said: "There's not a person in Scotland unaware that walking is good for you.
"It is insulting and humiliating that the NHS and city council think people need someone on 26,000 and with a driving licence to nag at them why they should be walking."
A spokesman for the Association of British Drivers chipped in: "The council in Edinburgh are already doing an excellent job of making people walk round the city, so for someone else to be specialising in this seems to be a bit of a waste."
The post will initially be based at the Lauriston building of NHS Lothian, but is said to involve "travelling", presumably not always on two feet.
The job description states the overall aim is to "increase the number of people walking in Edinburgh".
Margaret Watt, chairwoman of the Scotland Patients Association, asked: "Are they having a laugh?"
But she also had a more serious take on the issue, saying: "Why are they wasting money on positions like this when we are short of nurses and short of staff?
"There are so many roles like this within health boards and they need to get their priorities right, especially at a time like this when they have to be even more prudent."
It is understood the driving licence was required because the co-ordinator will have to travel throughout the area to various events and meetings, as many other NHS non-clinical employees have to.
Dr Alison McCallum, NHS Lothian's director of public health and health policy, defended the appointment, adding that advising on where pedestrian-friendly developments should be considered was among the responsibilities.
"This is about encouraging people to realise that a lot can be gained from small changes in what they do," she said.
"Just by walking that bit further during your normal day you can make real health gains, and walking is great because it's not that daunting and it doesn't involve special equipment or cost money.
"The concept of walking advisers is well established and we understand this is not the first such post in Scotland."
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Monday 20 May 2013
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