Please feel free to contact us via the have your say section. Share your experience. All posts will be moderated and published anonymously by the Socialist Equality Party.

The following comments are from from NHS workers and their supporters.

Comment 9. 26.09.12

 I think it is disgusting that the cartel want to cut our wages and change working conditions. It is the nursing and midwifery staff who keep standards of care for patients at the highest. Staff already working in the expensive southwest will be forced to leave and work where the pay and conditions are with Agenda for Change, in fact I may leave the RDE.

Comment 8. 13.09.12

I agree completely that any change to pay or benefits, whilst being an unfair and unjust action, is likely to create a negative working environment as well as have a profound impact upon patient care and workers standard of living. G…

Comment 7.  06.09.12

I’m so glad to see this fightback against the South West Pay, Terms & Conditions Consortium.

The consortium is set up to (in their own words) “Reward the right behaviour and culture. Rewarding excellence / high performance. Review working hours. Explore the potential impact of increasing working hours (currently at 37.5hrs per week). Review annual leave entitlements and specifically those for individuals that have ten or more years of NHS services. Review pay levels and their link with Job Evaluation and the consistent application of pay bands for existing and new roles.  Remove sickness absence enhancements. Review sickness absence enhancements and specifically the entitlement of staff who are absent for work to receive additional enhancements relating to unsocial hours.”

This is a wide ranging attack on NHS workers who face a huge cut in pay and conditions. As per usual, apart from platitudes the unions will not lift a finger to help us. In fact in a ‘Statement Shared With Social Partnership Forum 2nd April 2012’ the Consortium welcomes Trade Union collaboration: ” In the South West we are also conscious of and highly supportive of the discussions that are taking place at a national level between NHS Employers and our Trade Union colleagues. Within these discussions, there is recognition that for the benefit of all parties, some things need to change. But it is also true to say that discussions at national level on a number of issues have proven difficult to move to a position of agreement.”

The consortium is confident that it can iron out any initial “disagreements” and get the unions on board with the proposed attacks. Just as unions worked alongside Agenda For Change and eventually the formation of Foundation Trusts, their leadership will be in consultation and agreement with the Pay Cartel. The Cartel knows that workers will not roll over, despite union sell outs and they are planning to dismiss and re engage staff to secure the devastating changes.

I used to be a full time Health Care Assistant/Nursing Assistant on an acute psychiatric ward. There is much talk at Sussex Partnership NHS trust about lengthening hours (possible compulsory 12 hr shifts to begin in November on psychiatric wards.) Many parents are struggling with these rumours, as childcare costs are so high, plus single parents or working parents cannot juggle 12 hrs away from home.

Word has it that new contracts are being offered to senior staff (ward managers and Band 6 or above) and there is very much a deceptive “We are all in this together” mentality coming from on high, as managers positions are “under threat” and they are concerned about “dropping down a band or two”.  More conscious lower income workers know that they face disastrous changes in pay and conditions though, and already work unsocial hours for little pay.  I think that Sussex, along with other NHS Trusts, will join the Pay Cartel and use it to drive down pay and worsen conditions.

Unison has been typically uninterested or appallingly impotent and imploring Trust managers to reconsider their positions, put patients first, blah blah blah, along with the odd petition.

At my last hospital, workers had a few illusions and some were involved in local branch activity. But where I worked afterwards, there is much less trade union activity–which could signify more aware workers who know the unions are a spent force (if they ever were a force at all).

There is a huge sense of isolated workers–unsupported temporary staff, clinging on to their badly paid shifts for dear life. There is a huge pool of ‘Bank’ staff that are unconnected/uncommitted to the hospital.

Employing bank workers mean you are not responsible for their welfare in any way–no sick pay, no holidays, etc. These workers are essentially alone. They are preferred to external agency staff who demand higher rates.

On psychiatric wards, bank workers and Nursing Assistants/HCAs do not necessarily lower clinical interventions as they do on general nursing wards.  But there are the same issue in terms of senior staff not working weekends because of costs of higher pay increased by weekend rates, so critical occurrences are left to untrained staff at these times and this impacts on patient care.

The difference between the roles of Nursing Assistants and trained staff is minimal on psyche wards. Basically the trained staff give out the meds.  But even NAs get involved with medication at times and experienced NAs attend ward rounds, do referrals, perform basic clinical observations.

I read the article on forming action commitees by Eric, which was really familiar. I think Health Care Assistants get a harder time of it on general wards because they are seen as holding things up, incapable of doing complex tasks, etc.  Of course I agree, the NHS saves money and exploits further by employing loads of untrained HCAs who can put patients at risk by contributing to understaffing, and this puts a huge strain on trained staff. But there are also divisions and frustrations between these two groups of staff, as the pressure of work weighs down.

This is less so on psyche wards as it is easier to transfer workloads to HCA/NAs, and though some HCAs may not be fully trained psychiatric nurses–they might have counselling/psychology training and/or have undertaken other types of clinical training and are more than capable of engaging therapeutically with patients.

I agree with everything that this NHS Fightback represents and hope that workers can see, particularly with the disastrous appointment of Jeremy Hunt as Health Secretary, that appeals, petitions and protests are useless. That what is required is a turn to a socialist perspective to defend and defend healthcare, getting rid of this rotten, anti-democratic system and replace it with a revolutionary perspective against profit and repression.

J.

Comment 6. 02.09.12

I think it is quite important to tell you what we were discussing in our staff room during a break recently. We are working in a big hospital in the Southwest. There were two nurses and three health care assistants and all were talking about the pay cartel. One junior nurse started talking about pay cuts pointing out that all her dreams of having a mortgage to have a house were destroyed by the pay cuts. She said that she won’t be able to afford a mortgage if she had to take a 15 percent pay cut.

She was also very angry that she had to work all the unsocial hours including nights without any enhancement pay when the pay cartel proposals come on to affect.” Every day we take home all the stress we have working under pressure.I would rather find a job in the private sector or in a super market when these proposals start to bite.”

One HCA who has got a back problem was worrying that she would lose her job fully if she was forced to do more and longer hours than the 16 hours a week she does with difficulty at the moment.She also added that her husband who work as a bus driver would have to work more if she had stopped working.
The senior nurse said ” I do not know why they are cutting the patient care and not appreciating the service we provide under enormous pressure due to lack of staff and other cost cutting measures. I pay £45 pounds a day for day care for my son when I work . If my pay is cut and I do not get enhancement pay for unsocial hours it is not worth coming to work leaving my son in day care.”

Another HCA pointed out: “It is not true that these pay cuts are inevitable. This hospital trust is running more than 8 million surplus this year.That means they have save money by cutting down patient care and services.This trust has joined the pay cartel not because they can not afford the pay bill but to cut down wages for the future private companies to have big profits.”

” And look at the £ 175,000 pay a year pay Chief executive of this trust get.He and his colleagues who receive similar sums in the pay cartel decide that we should get a 15 percent pay cut.”
Junior nurse joined” Where is the fairness? I read an article some where that the chief executives are going to have a 4 percent pay rise for the dirty work they do against their hard working staff.”

Comment 5. 30.08.12

“I have suggested to our chief executive that the Pay Cartel use themselves as a lobbying tool to submit to parliament collectively what they spend their budgets on, what services they provide, what savings they have been able to make and what their shortfalls are.

In doing this they can then leave our terms and conditions of employment alone and submit their budgetary shortfalls to the government requesting a cash input to balance their books.

I pointed out to him that the banks had been bailed out and the government had announced a £9:1 billion improvement fund to improve a journey time by 15 minutes from London to Birmingham arguing what was more important ‘the health of the nation or to save a journey time by 15 minutes’.

Needless to say I was told I was being ‘too political’!!!! “

Comment 4. 28.08.12

“Union leaders and the employers first have back door discussion about what is to come. Then the union leaders come to us and try to convince us of the employers’ positions.

“It happened several times in this hospital. The pay cartel thing is the latest one. They now do not ask about what we think before they go to meet the employer. They sometimes just put a leaflet on the table without discussing the issue. When we question them later on, they say we informed you by this or that leaflet. I am sick of the unions.”

Comment 3. 28.08.12

“I am totally disgusted about the pay cuts for nurses. I have been working in emergency care for 12 years and am at the top of pay band 5. I take a lot of responsibility for what I’m paid.

I work unsocial hours as required, but I am unprepared to work these hours if there are pay cuts. I would be prepared to leave my job and work for nursing agency, as I cannot afford to work for less money. I have a large mortgage and every penny is spoken for.”

Comment 2. 25.08.12

“ It’s a business more than a service. More and more outside businesses are coming in, private companies, which are under-cutting drastically which actually reduces the service. We I work for Bristol NHS Trust.

People are being forced into something that they don’t necessarily want to do. The union seems to be taking a real back seat on this one. You expect them to fight in your corner for you, but it just doesn’t happen. This is what we pay them for. My subs have increased. I expect more. We don’t get the feedback. We don’t even get told we are in negotiations. We are told nothing about the progress or non progress the unions have made.

“Last year, for example, there was a discussion between the unions and trusts regarding the laundry service, which has been changed–and the unions agreed to the changes without asking members their opinions. It’s disgraceful. The unions are in the pockets of the trusts.

“Time now for doing union business is being reduced, so they are actually squeezing the unions as well. And the Unions are just sitting back and watching it all go by. We haven’t got the right type of people who will question what is going on. That is sad in this day and age.

“We need to do something. We need to protect our people.”

Comment 1. 25.08.12

“The decision which the south west trusts have made to reduce the income of NHS employees is really unfair and fatal.

With daily expenses raising sky high like utility bills and petrol, they are putting the NHS staff under further stress by cutting their income in a unfair manner. Now is the time for the trusts to support their staff and help them to deliver the best service they can.”