Cost-of-living crisis: Almost half of Scots avoid NHS treatment, poll shows

Almost half of Scots have avoided NHS treatment in the past year, a new poll shows.

A YouGov study for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) asked 1,009 people in Scotland earlier this year various questions about the state of the NHS and their stance on potential strikes.

The RCN Scotland is among the unions pushing for a better pay deal, with members being balloted on potential industrial action.

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The poll showed 10 per cent of those asked said they had avoided NHS services many times in the past year when they felt unwell, 22 per cent had done so a few times, and 12 per cent reported not seeking treatment once.

A nurse holds the hand of an older womanA nurse holds the hand of an older woman
A nurse holds the hand of an older woman

Some 47 per cent of those who avoided the NHS said they worried about long waits, 42 per cent were concerned it would increase pressure on the health service, and 27 per cent reported knowing how to treat themselves.

The poll also issued a stark warning to the Government over industrial action, with the vast majority of those surveyed saying they would be sympathetic towards a strike by nurses.

Some 50 per cent of respondents said they would have “a lot of sympathy” with striking nurses, while 28 per cent said they would have a “fair amount”.

Just 17 per cent said they would have little or no sympathy.

When asked if they would support a strike by nurses, 42 per cent said they would “strongly support” action, while a further 27 per cent said they would “tend to support” it.

A total of 22 per cent said they would oppose action to some degree.

The Scottish Government made a formal offer to unions at the end of last week as a result of talks that went on into the early hours of Friday.

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As part of the deal, NHS Agenda for Change staff, which excludes only doctors, dentists and senior managers in the health service, would receive a flat rate increase of £2,205, backdated to April.

The poll also found 78 per cent of those surveyed said they would support nurses receiving a pay rise in line with inflation, with only 12 per cent opposed and 62 per cent saying they would support an above inflation offer, while 26 per cent were opposed.

RCN Scotland has asked for an offer equivalent to inflation plus 5 per cent, which would mean an increase of at least 15 per cent.

While health secretary Humza Yousaf heralded the biggest pay offer since devolution, unions described it as a “kick in the teeth” and RCN Scotland said its ballot on industrial action would continue.

RCN Scotland director Colin Poolman said: “Strike action is always a last resort.

“That it has come to this demonstrates just how concerned our members are for the safety of their patients, how undervalued and demoralised they are feeling and how frustrated they are at the Scottish Government’s continued failure to listen and act.

“Our members have the support of the public who can see the devasting impact that nursing staff shortages are having on the care they and their families receive.

“The Scottish Government must do better if Scotland is to have the nursing workforce it needs.”



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