Calls to suspend lone working at night for care staff in Renfrewshire have been made by a concerned councillor.

Andy Doig, who represents Johnstone North, Kilbarchan, Howwood, and Lochwinnoch ward, says he has written to the Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) demanding action.

It comes after concerns from a constituent were raised to the politician with claims that the HSCP was allegedly breaching national guidelines.

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The Gazette:

He said: "I have been approached by constituents who are social care workers for Renfrewshire HSCP and they have legitimate safety fears about a new policy of lone working at night.

"They have raised this with line management by not being listened to.

"This is a clear breach of the Scottish Social Services Council guidelines on lone working so I have asked the HSCP to suspend this policy.

“The UK-wide Care Workers Charity states that in the UK, a health and social care worker is attacked every 30 minutes.

"In addition, according to a 12-month survey by Community Care magazine, 85% of social workers experience assault, harassment or verbal abuse.

"We also have to be mindful that many of these HSCP staff will be female and feel more vulnerable.

“There are two points to address here, there is the question of more and more social care service users having complex needs, this means that it is not always possible to predict when a service user may become aggressive or violent.

"Furthermore, there is the risk of travelling alone in urban areas at night between visits which add additional potential risks to workers."

The HSCP refute claims that any new policy has been introduced recently and that social care services within Renfrewshire adhere to Renfrewshire Council’s Lone Working Guidance.

They also said that the safety and well-being of staff are "paramount" and they "actively encourage" staff members with any concerns to discuss with management or raise through existing staff support channels.

They went on to say: "We are committed to thoroughly investigating the concerns raised by Councillor Doig and collaborating with relevant services to ensure that staff members feel supported and heard.

"We will reach out to Councillor Doig to gather more details about the concerns raised and ensure he is informed about policies and the procedures in place to safeguard our staff."