PROTESTORS are calling for a u-turn on plans to axe 28 support staff based within doctors’ surgeries in some of Glasgow’s poorest postcodes.

Community link practitioners (CLPs) based in medical centres across the city provide help to vulnerable people on issues such as housing, benefits, debt and abuse.

Now GMB Scotland is urging the First Minister to intervene after Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership blamed spending cuts for reducing the number of people in the roles from 70 to 42 from April next year.

At-risk staff protested outside a meeting of the Integration Joint Board, which shapes community health and social care services, on Wednesday, just a day after official figures revealed life expectancy in Glasgow’s most deprived neighbourhoods is the lowest in Scotland.

GMB Scotland, which represents the workers, has already written to First Minister Humza Yousaf warning the cuts in so-called ‘deep end surgeries’, undermines his commitment to easing the impact of poverty.

Rory Steel, GMB Scotland policy and external affairs officer, said: “Sadly, the latest figures only confirm the terrible toll that poverty is having on the health of those living in Scotland’s biggest city.

“Tragically, we already know how enduring health inequalities mean Scots are condemned to far shorter lives simply because of where they live.

Glasgow Times: Protest in Glasgow to save jobsProtest in Glasgow to save jobs (Image: Supplied)

“That is why the CLPs were enlisted, and it beggars belief that such essential staff are at risk just when their valued work has never been needed more.”

The National Records of Scotland revealed on Tuesday that the life expectancy of Scots has dropped for the third year in a row, with Glaswegians living the shortest lives in the country. New data shows that those in the city’s poorest neighbourhoods are dying years earlier than those in more affluent communities.

In 2021, research suggested men in Glasgow’s poorest postcodes died on average 15 years sooner than those in the wealthiest parts of the city.

READ MORE: Glasgow City Council spend £90k at Celtic Park and Hampden

The GPs, GMB Scotland and city politicians from all parties at Holyrood have spoken in support of the staff who offer patients life-changing help and advice on a wide range of non-medical issues, including helping them to access benefits and support with debt, housing bereavement and loneliness.

Deborah Hamilton, one of the city’s CLPs, works for the Health and Social Care Alliance and spoke out at the rally in Albion Street.

Glasgow Times: Deborah HamiltonDeborah Hamilton (Image: Supplied)

She said: “If the Scottish Government is serious about easing the impact of poverty, it needs to get serious about saving these jobs.”

Glasgow City Council has also backed the campaign to save one-in-three CLPs under threat because of the £1.3million in spending cuts.

Councillor Lana Reid-McConnell, who represents the Greens, hailed the work done by the service and warned it makes no sense to cut a project that is seen as widely successful.

She said: “They are a vital non-medical, social support in GP practices and their work in tackling isolation as well as emotional and financial hardship is a key preventative service that has been supported and expanded due to its success.”

She says the withdrawal of Scottish Government support and the reduction in the 66 per cent cut to the service will only further risk the wellbeing of those living in the hardest-up areas.

At a meeting two weeks ago, the council agreed an amendment calling on ministers to secure long-term funding for the Community Links programme and, as a priority, signed off on the cash needed to maintain current staffing levels.

It will now ask for a meeting with ministers, Glasgow City Health Social Care Partnership, GMB Scotland and impacted GPs to help find a way forward.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow HSCP said: "We are only able to agree contracts based on our known income from Scottish government at this time. Therefore, it is anticipated some practices will see a reduction from a full time to a part-time worker come April next year."

The spokesperson added the HSCP were "committed to the continuation of the community links worker programme" and recognised the "considerable benefits" the service brought to patients.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said it was reviewing the delivery of services across the country.