Why insourcing isn’t always a win

On the final day of UNISON’s health conference, delegates heard a series of debates on defending the NHS against privatisation.

Tam Hiddleston for the service group executive warned that, while “we invariably think of insourcing as a positive,” some insourcing “is about private operators being brought into the NHS.”

UNISON needs to be very careful to monitor “any wider implications for Agenda for Change pay and conditions,” he continued.

Chris from London noted: “What’s the point of insourcing people and you just change their uniforms?”

Moving a motion on mega trusts for the Eastern region, Glen Carrington (pictured above) highlighted the rising problems facing staff in such trusts in his region.

NHS England is pursuing trust mergers in an attempt to save money, “but after 14 long years of Tory cuts, has anyone ever looked to see what the impact is on staff?

“The chances of starting a shift in Cromer and ending up in London happens all too often,” said Mr Carrington. “Don’t let anyone tell you big is always better.”

In another motion, conference heard of staff left devastated at learning that their jobs were being outsourced.

Yet even as outsourced services have been shown to cause major problems, it is an approach that continues, and causes even more problems – not least in the increase of a “two or three or four-tier workforces” as contracts are passed from one company to another.

That situation is a “national scandal that the Tory government continues to be complicit in,” said one speaker.

Steady recruitment of healthcare students

Also on Wednesday morning, conference heard of the “steady recruitment of healthcare students” and agreed that “continuing to recruit healthcare students to UNISON is an essential part of a strategy for a strong UNISON presence in the NHS”, and welcomed the success of the union’s Future Healthcare Leaders programme.

The motion, from the national young members’ forum, noted that a recent survey of heathcare students had revealed increasing struggles with the cost of living crisis and the levels of financial support they received, with 35% agreeing that they might not be able to complete their studies because of the situation.

Among a raft of calls, conference urged the executive to:

  • engage with regional health committees, the strategic organising unit, the national young members’ forum to build and develop strategies for recruitment and organisation of healthcare students
  • campaign for better financial arrangements for healthcare students
  • work with the national women’s committee to explore the additional financial challenges facing healthcare students with childcare responsibilities.

The article Why insourcing isn’t always a win first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Why insourcing isn’t always a win

On the final day of UNISON’s health conference, delegates heard a series of debates on defending the NHS against privatisation.

Tam Hiddleston for the service group executive warned that, while “we invariably think of insourcing as a positive,” some insourcing “is about private operators being brought into the NHS.”

UNISON needs to be very careful to monitor “any wider implications for Agenda for Change pay and conditions,” he continued.

Chris from London noted: “What’s the point of insourcing people and you just change their uniforms?”

Moving a motion on mega trusts for the Eastern region, Glen Carrington (pictured above) highlighted the rising problems facing staff in such trusts in his region.

NHS England is pursuing trust mergers in an attempt to save money, “but after 14 long years of Tory cuts, has anyone ever looked to see what the impact is on staff?

“The chances of starting a shift in Cromer and ending up in London happens all too often,” said Mr Carrington. “Don’t let anyone tell you big is always better.”

In another motion, conference heard of staff left devastated at learning that their jobs were being outsourced.

Yet even as outsourced services have been shown to cause major problems, it is an approach that continues, and causes even more problems – not least in the increase of a “two or three or four-tier workforces” as contracts are passed from one company to another.

That situation is a “national scandal that the Tory government continues to be complicit in,” said one speaker.

Steady recruitment of healthcare students

Also on Wednesday morning, conference heard of the “steady recruitment of healthcare students” and agreed that “continuing to recruit healthcare students to UNISON is an essential part of a strategy for a strong UNISON presence in the NHS”, and welcomed the success of the union’s Future Healthcare Leaders programme.

The motion, from the national young members’ forum, noted that a recent survey of heathcare students had revealed increasing struggles with the cost of living crisis and the levels of financial support they received, with 35% agreeing that they might not be able to complete their studies because of the situation.

Among a raft of calls, conference urged the executive to:

  • engage with regional health committees, the strategic organising unit, the national young members’ forum to build and develop strategies for recruitment and organisation of healthcare students
  • campaign for better financial arrangements for healthcare students
  • work with the national women’s committee to explore the additional financial challenges facing healthcare students with childcare responsibilities.

The article Why insourcing isn’t always a win first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Delegates support calls on wellbeing and health and safety

Delegates to UNISON’s health conference debated a series of motions under the collective heading of health, safety and wellbeing, on Monday and Tuesday afternoons.

“Let’s commit to fostering a workplace where every woman feels valued,” said Susan Parkinson (pictured above).

Moving a motion on women’s mental health at work for the national women’s committee, she explained that women experience higher levels of mental health problems than men.

Karen Buckley from Greater Manchester stated that 76% of the NHS staff are women. Alongside the fact that the majority of carers – paid and unpaid – are also women, and that low pay, the cost of living crisis and discrimination particularly affect women, it is little surprise that, as inequality has worsened, so mental health issues for women have increased.

“Most of all,” continued Ms Buckley, “we need social justice.”

Angie from the Homerton Hospital branch raised the issue of how being a Black women can intensify mental health problems, while a delegate from Northern Ireland, called out, to applause: “Stuff the stigma [around mental health]! Get the support from the people around you!”

Several delegates spoke movingly of their own experiences, as conference called on the service group executive to “work with the national women’s committee to campaign for mentally healthy workplaces where women can thrive”, and to “promote UNISON’s guide to bargaining on mental health to woman members working in the health sector, branch and regional women’s officers and self-organised groups”.

Brenda, moving a motion for the North West, pointed out that helping members deal with mental health issues “isn’t covered in the organising stewards’ course”. Delegates agreed that the executive should “encourage regions to provide training and guidance on signposting to help stewards support members who may be facing challenges with poor mental health.”

Delegates also backed motions calling for:

  • improved mental health access within the NHS
  • improved gender identity services and trans healthcare, as underfunding has turned the issue into a health and safety issue for NHS members
  • Long COVID to be recognised as a disability
  • the service group to encourage NHS organisations and outsourced providers of NHS services to sign up to the Sexual Safety Charter and support branches to work for full implementation of the charter.

A busy afternoon

Emma Dale addressing UNISON's health service group conference

On a busy Tuesday afternoon, delegates also discussed the issue of safe staffing within the health service – noting that this also has health and safety, and wellbeing considerations.

Moving the motion, Martin Mackay from Scotland said that, while the Health and Social Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019, which has just come in to force, is welcome, it still does not include “all staff in our One Team”.

Emma Dale (pictured above) from South Wales gave an example of how not all NHS staff are covered. “I worked in forensic mental health,” she explained, so wasn’t covered. After an incident with a violent patient, she had to move from a job she loved into an admin post.

The article Delegates support calls on wellbeing and health and safety first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Delegates support calls on wellbeing and health and safety

Delegates to UNISON’s health conference debated a series of motions under the collective heading of health, safety and wellbeing, on Monday and Tuesday afternoons.

“Let’s commit to fostering a workplace where every woman feels valued,” said Susan Parkinson (pictured above).

Moving a motion on women’s mental health at work for the national women’s committee, she explained that women experience higher levels of mental health problems than men.

Karen Buckley from Greater Manchester stated that 76% of the NHS staff are women. Alongside the fact that the majority of carers – paid and unpaid – are also women, and that low pay, the cost of living crisis and discrimination particularly affect women, it is little surprise that, as inequality has worsened, so mental health issues for women have increased.

“Most of all,” continued Ms Buckley, “we need social justice.”

Angie from the Homerton Hospital branch raised the issue of how being a Black women can intensify mental health problems, while a delegate from Northern Ireland, called out, to applause: “Stuff the stigma [around mental health]! Get the support from the people around you!”

Several delegates spoke movingly of their own experiences, as conference called on the service group executive to “work with the national women’s committee to campaign for mentally healthy workplaces where women can thrive”, and to “promote UNISON’s guide to bargaining on mental health to woman members working in the health sector, branch and regional women’s officers and self-organised groups”.

Brenda, moving a motion for the North West, pointed out that helping members deal with mental health issues “isn’t covered in the organising stewards’ course”. Delegates agreed that the executive should “encourage regions to provide training and guidance on signposting to help stewards support members who may be facing challenges with poor mental health.”

Delegates also backed motions calling for:

  • improved mental health access within the NHS
  • improved gender identity services and trans healthcare, as underfunding has turned the issue into a health and safety issue for NHS members
  • Long COVID to be recognised as a disability
  • the service group to encourage NHS organisations and outsourced providers of NHS services to sign up to the Sexual Safety Charter and support branches to work for full implementation of the charter.

A busy afternoon

Emma Dale addressing UNISON's health service group conference

On a busy Tuesday afternoon, delegates also discussed the issue of safe staffing within the health service – noting that this also has health and safety, and wellbeing considerations.

Moving the motion, Martin Mackay from Scotland said that, while the Health and Social Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019, which has just come in to force, is welcome, it still does not include “all staff in our One Team”.

Emma Dale (pictured above) from South Wales gave an example of how not all NHS staff are covered. “I worked in forensic mental health,” she explained, so wasn’t covered. After an incident with a violent patient, she had to move from a job she loved into an admin post.

The article Delegates support calls on wellbeing and health and safety first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Health conference: Divided we fall

The debate on Agenda for Change pay merged into terms and conditions as business continued into the afternoon at health conference in Brighton.

Paying to work

First up were a group of motions that explored the various ways in which health workers are losing out financially in the course of their work. This included paying for their own uniforms, DBS checks, paying for hospital parking – with one delegate even saying her employer asked for staff to pay for their key-fobs.

Elsewhere motions discussed out-of-date mileage and subsistence rates with the mover of the mileage motion, Trudy Martin of the SGE, noting that: “HMRC rates haven’t changed since 2011 and workers are paying the price” and that if rates kept up with inflation, it should be 63p a mile, not 45p.”

Meanwhile, a speaker on the motion about inadequate subsistence rates said: “if the £15 dinner allowance had risen in line with inflation from 2004 to 2024, it would be worth around £28 now.”

NHS Bank workers

An NHS staff bank is an entity managed by a trust, or third-party organisation who contract healthcare professionals to take on temporary shifts at hospitals.

Often, those working on bank contracts often have inconsistent pay terms and conditions outside of the Agenda for Change pay framework.

One motion noted that the framework agreement for the 2018 three-year pay deal required the NHS Staff Council to explore the scope for a collective framework agreement on bank and agency workers.

As the mover, Jim Clawson, noted: “That was six years ago.”

Trudy Martin of the SGE added: “Employers are using bank contracts more than ever before, making people take up zero-hour contracts without good terms and conditions.

“While bank contracts may work for some people in specific circumstances, they are often not the most appropriate way to solve the problem.”

The motion called on the SGE to work with the staff council to finally deliver the promised framework agreement to ensure that Trusts treat their bank staff in a fair, consistent and equitable manner.

A shorter working week ­– better for patients, better for staff

Bryn Webster introduced the next motion, saying: “Reducing the working week with no loss in pay has been a UNISON goal for years.

“And the recent UNISON survey showed that a reduction in the working week was a top priority for members.”

He noted that 45% of NHS staff had felt unwell as a result of work related stress over the last 12 months, and more than 15 million working days were lost due to stress last year.

Jennifer Dutton (pictured, above) a call-handler with North West Ambulance service said: “Our mission statement for this entire conference is one team for patient care and this motion has the chance to do that.

“I regularly see fellow call handlers with red bulls and coffees in their hands, ready to fall asleep at their desks.

“How can my first call on day one possibly be as good as my last call on my tenth day straight? Patient care is at risk and we deserve a break.”

A nurses-only pay spine

The final motion in the section was an emergency motion called Divided we fall – invest in Agenda for Change, don’t destroy it.

It noted that the Department for Health and Social Care recently launched a consultation to “consider the benefits and challenges of a separate pay spine for nursing staff.”

The consultation put forward two options, one keeping nurses on the Agenda for Change job evaluation system, but giving them a different pay spine and the second where nursing staff would be given an entirely different and separate set of terms, conditions and pay and bargaining structures.

Eddie Woolley of the SGE (pictured, top) moved the motion saying: “Both of these options are unacceptable.”

He argued that they are aimed at dividing the NHS workforce weakening them as a result, and that it “could lead to other staff groups asking to be treated differently, which could mean the end of Agenda for Change.

“And let’s remember why we worked for Agenda for Change – it’s about pay and equality, it isn’t perfect. Banding for nurses has never rewarded clinical experience, but we need to remain united not divided, we are one team, we are UNISON.”

The article Health conference: Divided we fall first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Health conference: Divided we fall

The debate on Agenda for Change pay merged into terms and conditions as business continued into the afternoon at health conference in Brighton.

Paying to work

First up were a group of motions that explored the various ways in which health workers are losing out financially in the course of their work. This included paying for their own uniforms, DBS checks, paying for hospital parking – with one delegate even saying her employer asked for staff to pay for their key-fobs.

Elsewhere motions discussed out-of-date mileage and subsistence rates with the mover of the mileage motion, Trudy Martin of the SGE, noting that: “HMRC rates haven’t changed since 2011 and workers are paying the price” and that if rates kept up with inflation, it should be 63p a mile, not 45p.”

Meanwhile, a speaker on the motion about inadequate subsistence rates said: “if the £15 dinner allowance had risen in line with inflation from 2004 to 2024, it would be worth around £28 now.”

NHS Bank workers

An NHS staff bank is an entity managed by a trust, or third-party organisation who contract healthcare professionals to take on temporary shifts at hospitals.

Often, those working on bank contracts often have inconsistent pay terms and conditions outside of the Agenda for Change pay framework.

One motion noted that the framework agreement for the 2018 three-year pay deal required the NHS Staff Council to explore the scope for a collective framework agreement on bank and agency workers.

As the mover, Jim Clawson, noted: “That was six years ago.”

Trudy Martin of the SGE added: “Employers are using bank contracts more than ever before, making people take up zero-hour contracts without good terms and conditions.

“While bank contracts may work for some people in specific circumstances, they are often not the most appropriate way to solve the problem.”

The motion called on the SGE to work with the staff council to finally deliver the promised framework agreement to ensure that Trusts treat their bank staff in a fair, consistent and equitable manner.

A shorter working week ­– better for patients, better for staff

Bryn Webster introduced the next motion, saying: “Reducing the working week with no loss in pay has been a UNISON goal for years.

“And the recent UNISON survey showed that a reduction in the working week was a top priority for members.”

He noted that 45% of NHS staff had felt unwell as a result of work related stress over the last 12 months, and more than 15 million working days were lost due to stress last year.

Jennifer Dutton (pictured, above) a call-handler with North West Ambulance service said: “Our mission statement for this entire conference is one team for patient care and this motion has the chance to do that.

“I regularly see fellow call handlers with red bulls and coffees in their hands, ready to fall asleep at their desks.

“How can my first call on day one possibly be as good as my last call on my tenth day straight? Patient care is at risk and we deserve a break.”

A nurses-only pay spine

The final motion in the section was an emergency motion called Divided we fall – invest in Agenda for Change, don’t destroy it.

It noted that the Department for Health and Social Care recently launched a consultation to “consider the benefits and challenges of a separate pay spine for nursing staff.”

The consultation put forward two options, one keeping nurses on the Agenda for Change job evaluation system, but giving them a different pay spine and the second where nursing staff would be given an entirely different and separate set of terms, conditions and pay and bargaining structures.

Eddie Woolley of the SGE (pictured, top) moved the motion saying: “Both of these options are unacceptable.”

He argued that they are aimed at dividing the NHS workforce weakening them as a result, and that it “could lead to other staff groups asking to be treated differently, which could mean the end of Agenda for Change.

“And let’s remember why we worked for Agenda for Change – it’s about pay and equality, it isn’t perfect. Banding for nurses has never rewarded clinical experience, but we need to remain united not divided, we are one team, we are UNISON.”

The article Health conference: Divided we fall first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Health: ‘The government treats us like April fools’ on pay

Business at health conference turned to pay on Tuesday morning.

First, conference discussed an emergency motion on NHS pay 2024-25. The motion pointed out that once again, the government has failed to conduct annual pay reviews in a timely fashion.

Moving the motion, James Anthony of the SGE said: “Like clockwork, in April, everything goes up. Bills council tax, everything. Except, like clockwork, NHS pay.

“Once again the government treats us like April fools.”

He highlighted that Band two members are now paid just one penny above the minimum wage: “A whacking 55p below the real living wage.”

The motion noted the health SGE’s decision to launch a pro-active formal consultation in England to gauge the strength of feeling of members.

James told delegates: “This consultation is the most important thing we’re going to do when we come back from conference – so let’s go back and talk about pay.”

Gillian Hobson from the North West region followed, telling delegates: “This year we need to send a clear message: let nothing go. Detriment is not on the table and we will not accept damage to any of our Ts & Cs.

“No more delays, a proper pay rise, proper rebanding, a shorter working week. Let nothing go.”

Once bitten twice shy – the fight for pay parity

Continuing on the theme of government inaction, conference heard that health workers in Northern Ireland have still not received the 2023 Agenda for Change pay award.

Stephanie Greenwood, moving a motion on the fight for pay parity for Northern Ireland region, asked her NI regional colleagues to stand from their seats in the hall.

Referencing the continued strike action across Northern Ireland health over the last year, she said: “These are some of the individuals who led thousands of colleagues out of their workplaces day after day in bitter conditions. Look them in the eye and support them.”

She warned delegates, “Never again leave anyone behind,” asking conference to vote to ensure that, in future pay rounds, this scenario will not be repeated and that parity for Northern Ireland is built into future negotiations.

The NHS must become a Real Living Wage Employer

The final motion of the morning saw conference call for the NHS to become a real living wage employer.

Maria Demitri moved the motion for North West Anglia Hospitals. She said: “The NHS in England employs 1.7m people, it is one of the worlds biggest employers.”

The motion read that more and more low paid staff in the NHS are earning a wage that is less than the Real Living Wage of £12.00 an hour. Ms Demitri also noted that many of those employees are paid only a penny more than the minimum wage, if they are on band 2.

She said: “Many of these workers increasingly leaving the NHS because they can earn more elsewhere.”

She argued it used to be difficult to get a job in many jobs in the NHS, from healthcare assistant, administrator, porter to catering assistant. But, because of chronic low pay there are now thousands of vacancies in these roles across the NHS as workers search elsewhere for higher paid jobs in supermarkets and call centres.

The article Health: ‘The government treats us like April fools’ on pay first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Health: ‘The government treats us like April fools’ on pay

Business at health conference turned to pay on Tuesday morning.

First, conference discussed an emergency motion on NHS pay 2024-25. The motion pointed out that once again, the government has failed to conduct annual pay reviews in a timely fashion.

Moving the motion, James Anthony of the SGE said: “Like clockwork, in April, everything goes up. Bills council tax, everything. Except, like clockwork, NHS pay.

“Once again the government treats us like April fools.”

He highlighted that Band two members are now paid just one penny above the minimum wage: “A whacking 55p below the real living wage.”

The motion noted the health SGE’s decision to launch a pro-active formal consultation in England to gauge the strength of feeling of members.

James told delegates: “This consultation is the most important thing we’re going to do when we come back from conference – so let’s go back and talk about pay.”

Gillian Hobson from the North West region followed, telling delegates: “This year we need to send a clear message: let nothing go. Detriment is not on the table and we will not accept damage to any of our Ts & Cs.

“No more delays, a proper pay rise, proper rebanding, a shorter working week. Let nothing go.”

Once bitten twice shy – the fight for pay parity

Continuing on the theme of government inaction, conference heard that health workers in Northern Ireland have still not received the 2023 Agenda for Change pay award.

Stephanie Greenwood, moving a motion on the fight for pay parity for Northern Ireland region, asked her NI regional colleagues to stand from their seats in the hall.

Referencing the continued strike action across Northern Ireland health over the last year, she said: “These are some of the individuals who led thousands of colleagues out of their workplaces day after day in bitter conditions. Look them in the eye and support them.”

She warned delegates, “Never again leave anyone behind,” asking conference to vote to ensure that, in future pay rounds, this scenario will not be repeated and that parity for Northern Ireland is built into future negotiations.

The NHS must become a Real Living Wage Employer

The final motion of the morning saw conference call for the NHS to become a real living wage employer.

Maria Demitri moved the motion for North West Anglia Hospitals. She said: “The NHS in England employs 1.7m people, it is one of the worlds biggest employers.”

The motion read that more and more low paid staff in the NHS are earning a wage that is less than the Real Living Wage of £12.00 an hour. Ms Demitri also noted that many of those employees are paid only a penny more than the minimum wage, if they are on band 2.

She said: “Many of these workers increasingly leaving the NHS because they can earn more elsewhere.”

She argued it used to be difficult to get a job in many jobs in the NHS, from healthcare assistant, administrator, porter to catering assistant. But, because of chronic low pay there are now thousands of vacancies in these roles across the NHS as workers search elsewhere for higher paid jobs in supermarkets and call centres.

The article Health: ‘The government treats us like April fools’ on pay first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Opinion: Every day, UNISON is fighting for our NHS

Christina McAnea with Wilma Brown, chair of UNISON’s health service group executive

I’ve just delivered my speech to UNISON’s health members at their annual gathering in Brighton. I spoke about the immense pressures on NHS staff – caring for more patients, with fewer staff, in less time. But I also spoke about the support UNISON gives them to find their voice and help drive through the campaigns that matter most to them.

It’s always important for me to remind our members that UNISON is standing by them, backing them up and fighting their corner. That’s needed more than ever right now, because health workers are having to take time off for mental health issues and many are walking out completely for better paid and less stressful jobs at supermarkets down the road.

What has struck me most about this year’s health conference, is the number of contributions from tearful health workers, detailing the struggle they have with getting by day to day. Juggling caring responsibilities with tough jobs, on low pay, with little respite. To top it off, they’re facing abuse and sexual harassment at work, and they don’t feel safe enough to report it.

This is what neglecting our NHS looks like. It affects every part of the service and the workforce. After 14 years of Tory failure, it’s UNISON’s mission to defend the NHS from being driven into complete rack and ruin.

Every day, UNISON is fighting for our NHS and for the decent pay that staff deserve. Our re-banding campaigns continue across almost every region, and our agenda for change pay consultation is now live. The Tory government in Westminster has learnt no lessons from the past. The NHS pay increase is overdue again, and so is the Tories time to leave power.

During the general election campaign, I hope the public won’t be tricked by the Tories. They must be stopped from doing any more damage to our NHS. Staff working so hard to keep services going deserve so much better. Patients languishing on dangerous waiting lists expect better, and together we can all demand better.

The article Opinion: Every day, UNISON is fighting for our NHS first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Blog: This is what neglecting our NHS looks like

I’ve just delivered my speech to UNISON’s health members at their annual gathering in Brighton. I spoke about the immense pressures on NHS staff – caring for more patients, with fewer staff, in less time. But I also spoke about the support UNISON gives them to find their voice and help drive through the campaigns that matter most to them.

It’s always important for me to remind our members that UNISON is standing by them, backing them up and fighting their corner. That’s needed more than ever right now, because health workers are having to take time off for mental health issues and many are walking out completely for better paid and less stressful jobs at supermarkets down the road.

What has struck me most about this year’s health conference, is the number of contributions from tearful health workers, detailing the struggle they have with getting by day to day. Juggling caring responsibilities with tough jobs, on low pay, with little respite. To top it off, they’re facing abuse and sexual harassment at work, and they don’t feel safe enough to report it.

This is what neglecting our NHS looks like. It affects every part of the service and the workforce. After 14 years of Tory failure, it’s UNISON’s mission to defend the NHS from being driven into complete rack and ruin.

Every day, UNISON is fighting for our NHS and for the decent pay that staff deserve. Our re-banding campaigns continue across almost every region, and our agenda for change pay consultation is now live. The Tory government in Westminster has learnt no lessons from the past. The NHS pay increase is overdue again, and so is the Tories time to leave power.

During the general election campaign, I hope the public won’t be tricked by the Tories. They must be stopped from doing any more damage to our NHS. Staff working so hard to keep services going deserve so much better. Patients languishing on dangerous waiting lists expect better, and together we can all demand better.

The article Blog: This is what neglecting our NHS looks like first appeared on the UNISON National site.