The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 2nd February 2018

NHS supported by staff unpaid overtime

NATIONAL Health Service workers are doing £1.6 billion worth of unpaid overtime every year to prevent the NHS from collapse, according to a newly published annual staff survey.

Nurses, admin and ancillary workers are doing an average of 204 hours of work per year that they are not being paid for because of dangerous staff shortages.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The NHS is in a near-permanent crisis mode, thanks to years of underfunding. Patient safety is being put at risk.

“The only thing keeping the show on the road is the ridiculous amount of unpaid overtime that health workers are putting in.

“But goodwill only goes so far. The Government should properly fund our NHS and give staff the resources they need to do the job.”

The new analysis shows 45 per cent of NHS staff end up doing an average of up to five hours of unpaid overtime every week.A further 10 per cent of health workers, including paramedics, nurses, cleaners and porters, put in up to 10 hours per week for free. And four per cent of staff do more than 11 hours of unpaid overtime every week.

Christine McAnea, who is the head of health in the public-sector union Unison, commented on the report: “There are simply too few staff to cope with the growing demands being made on the NHS. Many regularly stay past the end of their shifts, only too aware of the effect upon patients and colleagues if they head for home on time.

“Yet despite their sterling efforts, many still feel they cannot deliver the care patients serve. This isn’t their fault, it’s the Government’s and the harm being inflicted by its senseless cash squeeze.

not too late

“But it’s not too late to make amends. The Chancellor could help ease the NHS out of its current crisis with some extra cash in the Budget tomorrow.

“He could also signal the end of the public sector pay pain NHS staff have suffered for the last seven years. MPs’ pay is rising above inflation, it’s high time health workers now received equal reward.

“It’s unacceptable to see hard-working staff on the receiving end of so much abuse from patients, relatives and the public. Hospital trusts must adopt a zero-tolerance approach so all culprits know they will feel the full force of the law should they attack health workers.”

The 2016 NHS staff survey results also found that 29 per cent are not satisfied with the standard of care they are able to give patients and 28 per cent have been on the receiving end of abuse from patients, relatives or the public.

One young physiotherapist who works with stroke patients on the NHS in London, said: “My department has faced increasing pressures this winter. While the strain has been felt for several months now, last week was unprecedented.

“On Friday, nine acute stroke patients were denied their essential stroke rehabilitation, as a direct result of the therapy team facilitating other basic care tasks on the ward.

“The 24-bed stroke unit should be staffed by four registered nurses and three healthcare assistants, under safe staffing guidelines and taking into account the complexity of our patients. Instead, there were three registered nurses and two healthcare assistants.”

She added: “As a result, the therapy team assisted with, and carried out a number of tasks to ensure that our patients basic care needs were met, including washing, changing the sheets, toileting and addressing personal hygiene needs, as well as delivering and feeding patients their lunches.”