NHS National Services Scotland apologises for advising staff to avoid travellers

A health board has apologised after advising staff to avoid speaking to members of the travelling community.

NHS National Services Scotland sent an internal memo to staff at its staff at Gyle Square, Edinburgh, regarding local travellers.

The memo said the board planned to lock all facilities over the weekend having been “made aware of the presence of a travelling community in the local area”, Holyrood Magazine reported.

It said the memo continued: “If you have a car in the car park, please make sure you have moved it by 8pm this evening.

“If approached consider avoiding dialogue with the travelling community members to prevent any possible issues.

“Be vigilant on access and security to the building and site, reporting any breaches immediately.”

A second memo is reported to have been sent three hours after the first, apologising for any offence but confirming the site gate would remain closed for the weekend.

The health board said the email failed to meet its standards on equality, diversity and inclusion and it has given staff additional training.

Labour’s Monica Lennon said: “Scotland’s Gypsy/Traveller communities face discrimination on a daily basis and this is a very worrying example from NHS officials who should be helping to reduce health inequalities, not exacerbate them.

“By its own admission, there is little evidence of Scottish Government policies and services actually reaching and meeting the needs of the Gypsy/Traveller community.

“Complacency is providing cover to harmful attitudes that are limiting the life chances of Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland.”

A NHS National Services Scotland spokeswoman said: “An email detailing the weekend closure of the gates at our Gyle Square site was issued to all staff on 31 August and made specific mention of the travelling community.

“We deeply regret the content of that email which did not meet our required standards around equality, diversity and inclusion and is not reflective of our views as an organisation.

“An apology was issued very quickly and additional training has been put in place.”

She said the organisation aims to lead on equality, diversity and inclusion and has mandatory training on this every three years, as well as staff equality networks.

She added: “However, as an organisation we will learn lessons from this situation to ensure that this does not happen again.”

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