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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Covid-19: One in five healthcare workers in Scotland could quit after pandemic, IPPR Scotland warns

  • Catastrophic toll on mental health, family safety and job security revealed by new IPPR/YouGov poll
  • IPPR Scotland calls for ‘Care Fit for Carers’ support package to guarantee safety, accommodation, mental health, pay and care

A major IPPR/YouGov poll of almost a thousand UK healthcare professionals today reveals that Covid-19 has made one in five healthcare workers in Scotland more likely to leave their role after the pandemic. In the National Health Service in Scotland this would be the equivalent of losing over 30,000 vital workers.

This demonstrates that the government must do more to help hardworking health professionals cope at this time of unprecedented stress, according to IPPR Scotland.

Covid-19 has put healthcare workers under severe strain

The polling reveals that healthcare professionals in Scotland and across the UK have significant and diverse needs that are not being supported properly during the Covid-19 crisis:

  • Health – 24 per cent of healthcare workers in Scotland believe government has done enough to prevent and test for Covid-19 among healthcare workers (vs only 18 per cent across the UK). 70 per cent of healthcare workers in Scotland believe government has not done enough in this regard.
  • Mental Health – 44 per cent of healthcare workers in Scotland believe that government has not done enough to protect their mental health, with 51 per cent of healthcare workers in Scotland said their mental health had deteriorated since the Covid-19 crisis began.
  • Childcare – 31 per cent of healthcare workers in Scotland believe that government has not done enough to provide adequate childcare support during this crisis (27 per cent across the UK).

Across the UK, women were more likely to have experienced detrimental impacts on their life during Covid-19 (89 per cent) compared to men (83 per cent).

The general public support more government intervention

The public in Scotland and across the UK want government to introduce more substantial support for health and care workers, according to IPPR. In a separate poll of the general public across the UK, 96 per cent agreed government should introduce more support for healthcare workers’ physical health and 95 per cent agreed more support was needed on mental health. 88 per cent were in favour of more generous pay and leave entitlements for our health and care workers.

Care Fit for Carers in Scotland

In response to the polling IPPR Scotland is calling for:

  1. Protect the frontline ensuring PPE supply to health and social care workers through this crisis and providing mental health support to healthcare workers across the NHS and social care sector.
  2. Increase key workers’ childcare provision by providing a significant uplift in free childcare hours for key workers, as has already been achieved in Wales.
  3. Bring social care workers onto NHS pay scales to offer pay increases and opportunities for training and career progression across health and social care.
  4. A Covid-19 pay bonus of 10 per cent for all workers in health and care for 2020/21.
  5. A new bank holiday to celebrate the debt we owe health and care workers and to celebrate how important health and care workers are to all of us. Almost two-thirds of the public supported this policy proposal.

Russell Gunson, Director of IPPR Scotland said:

“If fighting Coronavirus is like fighting a war then we must make sure we recognise our heroes this time round. Not in tokens of appreciation but in real recognition that improves the lives of health and care workers across the country.

“We need protection for physical and mental health now, but we need to make sure we provide the pay increases and the recognition across health and care that will show we really understand how important our key workers are to all of our everyday lives. We need care fit for carers.

Chris Thomas, IPPR Health Research Fellow and lead author of the report, said:  

“Care Fit for Carers is about giving the heroes of the coronavirus the protection, support and security they need. No one should have to put their health at risk because PPE is lacking. No one should face mental health crisis because no support was there. And no one should struggle financially while responding to this crisis.”



Robin Harvey, Digital and Media Officer: [email protected]  

David Wastell, Head of News and Communications: [email protected] 

Rosie Lockwood, Media and Campaigns Manager for IPPR Scotland: [email protected]

Available for interview: 

  • IPPR Scotland Director Russell Gunson 
  • IPPR Scotland Senior Research Fellow Rachel Statham


  1. The IPPR report Care fit for Carers: Ensuring the safety and welfare of NHS and social care workers by Harry Quilter-Pinner and Chris Thomas is available to download here: 
  2. Advance copies of the report are available on request 
  3. IPPR/YouGov undertook polling of both health professionals in Scotland (n = 134). Fieldwork was carried out online between April 2nd and April 7th .
  4. Tweets about the report from IPPR and campaign supporters can be discovered with the #CareFitForCarers hashtag.
  5. IPPR Scotland is Scotland’s progressive think tank. We are cross-party, progressive, and neutral on the question of Scotland’s independence. IPPR Scotland is dedicated to supporting and improving public policy in Scotland, working tirelessly to achieve a progressive Scotland. For more information, visit:
  6. IPPR is the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank. With more than 40 staff in offices in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence.