Health workers deserve better than this government

The government’s chaos and failure in the NHS must end, Christina McAnea tells health delegates

Speaking to delegates gathered at UNISON’s annual health conference in Brighton today (Tuesday), UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said:

“The government’s promised but not delivered on the NHS. Its legacy will be crumbling hospital estates, outdated equipment, appalling waiting lists and NHS staff at their wits’ ends.

“Investment’s been drained for 14 years, capacity’s tumbling and workforce stress is ratcheting up.

“It’s no small wonder three in ten NHS workers had to take time off for mental health issues in the past year.

“The pressures on healthcare staff are immense. They’re caring for more patients, with fewer colleagues and with much less time.

“To make matters worse, some NHS staff have been shown pornography and even offered money for sex while at work.

“Health workers have had to put up with degrading comments, and some have experienced sexual assault.

“No one should ever have to endure such despicable behaviour and certainly not in their place of work. Employers must take this issue much more seriously.

“NHS staff deserve a proper pay rise, one that’s above inflation and tackles low wages. They should also be on the right salary band and able to work a shorter working week without loss of pay.

“The government’s learnt no lessons. This year’s wage rise is again overdue. Ministers have let staff down repeatedly.

“This lot should have left power long ago. This must be the year they’re shown the door. There must be an end to the failure, the chaos and the scandal.

“Much has been achieved in the past year. Forty-two rebanding deals across England and Scotland. Healthcare assistants have so far won £70m in back pay.

“There’s been a huge strike in Northern Ireland, one that forced politicians back to the Assembly to sort out public sector pay.

“Healthcare assistants in North and South Tees are on strike today. And later this week support staff will walk out in Leicestershire.

“A national care service is a must. Until the crisis in social care is fixed, the broken NHS can’t be put back together.

“Older people who need care have spent their lives working and contributing to this country.

“The least they can expect is decent care for the final part of their lives. The workforce entrusted to look after them should be given decent pay for the skilled work they do.”