Cuts to a 'vital' service for Glasgow's poorest have been averted after the Scottish Government announced it is to commit an additional £3.6million.

The funding, over three years, will safeguard the community link worker programme, run by Glasgow's Health and Social Care Partnership (GHSCP) in GP surgeries.

Link workers offer one-to-one support for issues such as debt, housing and loneliness, reducing pressure on doctors which allows them to focus on patients’ medical needs.

Experts say they are particularly valuable in areas of high deprivation where poverty and inequality contribute to poor health.

Health Secretary Michael Matheson said GPs had "made it clear" how much they depend on the service.

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The Scottish Government said the announcement addresses a funding gap identified by the GHSCP.

There has been a fierce backlash since the cuts were outlined in August, with GPs and charities warning of a "catastrophic" impact on the city's poorest residents and the GMB organising a series of protests.

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The GHSCP said they would be forced to slash the number of full-time link worker posts from 70 to 42 from April next year because the Scottish Government was discontinuing a £1.35 million funding pot which had been used to pay for the scheme.

However, the row over the cuts took a twist after claims were made that the city's health and care bosses secretly rejected an offer by the Scottish Government to cover half the costs.

The Herald: GPs warned that cuts to link workers would be 'catastrophic' amid the cost-of-living crisisGPs warned that cuts to link workers would be 'catastrophic' amid the cost-of-living crisis (Image: PA)

Funding of £1.2 million a year, on a recurring basis from 2024-5, has been offered for three years.

The government said this is in addition to the Partnership’s expected Primary Care Improvement Fund allocation for 2024-25 which "will ensure that the number of posts remain at current levels".

Rona Sweeney, chairwoman of the city’s Integration Joint Board, said: "We have always been committed to the Community Links programme, which brings considerable benefits for patients and primary care services – particularly in some of the city’s most deprived communities.

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“However, the funding agreed today will be crucial in maintaining provision at current levels - not only next year, but beyond.

“That is very welcome and testament to the constructive engagement that has taken place between the HSCP and the Scottish Government over recent weeks and months.”

Rory Steel, GMB Scotland policy and external affairs officer, added: "The campaign led by our members and supported by the GPs and community groups to save these jobs detailed exactly why their work is so important but should not have been necessary.

“Reducing such vital support services in some of Scotland’s most deprived neighbourhoods during a cost of living crisis should never have been an option.

“If politicians, at a local and national level, are serious about easing the impact of poverty on Scots then community links workers are on the frontline and must be at the forefront of those efforts.

“We are happy Michael Matheson listened to our members and the communities they support and agreed to protect a life-changing service and this announcement ends months of uncertainty for our members who have been living with the risk of redundancy.”

Under new contracts issued by the HSCP the community link workers will now work for the Alliance after some are transferred from We Are With You, another service provider.

Susan Young Chief Officer of Operations at the Alliance said: 

"We are pleased that the Scottish Government have provided sustained funding for this crucial programme in Glasgow.  The uncertainty over funding has been an incredibly concerning time.”

Health Secretary Michael Matheson said: “This additional investment into Community Link Workers, to address a funding gap identified by Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership, reinforces our commitment to narrowing health inequalities in the city by ensuring this valued element of primary care support continues to thrive.

“GPs in the city have made very clear how much they depend upon Community Link Workers to help them ensure that patients get the care and support they need.

“I am grateful for the constructive collaboration we have had with Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership and am pleased we have been able to reach this solution.

"I hope this decision brings peace of mind, not just to the staff whose posts were at risk, but for GPs, patients and communities who rely on this vital service.”