UNISON & Quarriers Statement on £500 bonus payments

Press release issued by Quarriers & UNISON on Friday

The Scottish Government announcement of a £500 thank you payment for health and social care staff was welcomed and rightly acknowledged the efforts of frontline staff during the COVID pandemic. However, practicalities in administering the payment and determining eligibility have highlighted inequalities between people working in the NHS and others doing the same job but in the charity sector.

Quarriers raised this issue publicly in December 2020 and acknowledges that the Scottish Government has gone some way to address fears. But Quarriers’ Arrows Service in Elgin and The William Quarrier Scottish Epilepsy Centre are just two examples of inequalities that still exist in the policy that has been created. In both services, Quarriers’ staff went the extra mile to support people during the pandemic and yet are not eligible for the payment, whilst their NHS counterparts are.

None of the 39 staff at the Scottish Epilepsy Centre qualify for the payment in relation to their work as healthcare professionals. Neither the Centre nor Arrows met the criteria for the types of services that were included – and there are many other examples of excluded services beyond these.

Ron Culley, Chief Executive of Quarriers said:

“In Scotland all health and social care workers are equal – it’s just that some are more equal than others. The unfairness of the £500 bonus scheme continues to rankle, and I for one share the frustrations. How can the Scottish Government recognise the efforts of a drug and alcohol worker in the NHS but not in Quarriers? How can the Scottish Government recognise the efforts of a learning disability nurse in the NHS but not in Quarriers? Although we’re now administering the payments in line with the national guidance, we continue to make representations on these injustices, working with our partners in UNISON.”

Robin Taggart, UNISON Inverclyde Branch Secretary, said:

“Our members working for Quarriers Arrows Service have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic delivering a service to some of the most vulnerable people in the North East of Scotland. We know that dependency on drugs and alcohol increased significantly following last year’s lockdown stretching the service’s capacity to the limit. Arrows staff were also having to deal with the fallout from the pandemic such as the rise in the numbers of people whose mental health was adversely affected. Which makes it all the more inexplicable that they have been excluded from this payment. We call on the Scottish Government to reflect on this obvious inequality and injustice and extend the ‘thank you’ payment to all front line social care staff as they promised they would.”

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