The glossy launch of Healthcare Science Week by the NHS tomorrow (Friday 10 March) masks a world of overwork, stress, plummeting morale and staff shortages, Unite, the biggest union representing healthcare scientists, has warned.
There are an estimated 60,000 healthcare scientists and support staff in the UK and a recent survey by Unite of healthcare science members paints a picture of a dedicated workforce bending to breaking point under the weight of the NHS financial crisis.
Unite national officer for health Sarah Carpenter said: “With a fanfare, the NHS Employers organisation is promoting Healthcare Science Week to highlight the profession as an attractive career.
“But what is being sidestepped is that the profession is on its knees. However dedicated you are, it is a struggle to perform to your best in an environment of cost-cutting, the threat of privatisation and work-related stress.
“The ghosts at the banquet are the 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) for England, and Unite fears that healthcare science could be centralised into regional centres making it easier to privatise, which, we believe, is the true purpose of the STP programme.
“To cap this, chancellor Philip Hammond failed to fully address the financial crisis facing the NHS in yesterday’s budget.”
Brighton-based chair of Unite’s healthcare sciences committee Ian Evans said: “This survey only goes to confirm what all healthcare scientists working in the NHS already knew.
“For years we have strived and delivered high quality results ensuring patient treatment is met in a quick and safe way. This is done, without fuss, normally in the knowledge that this can be anytime of the day, any day of the week.
“How long are colleagues expected to continue to work in an unrewarded and underfunded way is in serious doubt. These concerns have to be addressed now because we cannot be sure how much longer it will be before the service collapses.”
Key findings from the Unite survey relating to healthcare scientists:
- In an typical week 65 per cent of healthcare science members report working more than their contracted hours of which only nine per cent is paid
- Compared to previous year (2015), 86 per cent of healthcare scientists reported that their workload had increased
- Compared to the year before (2015), 90 per cent reported morale/motivation in their workplace was worse or a lot worse
- A staggering 78 per cent blamed increased workplace stress for a drop in morale.
- Just over half – 55 per cent - said they would probably not or definitely not recommend their profession
- A total 69 per cent reported frequent staff shortages in their department.
Healthcare Science Week 2017 will take place between 10 and 19 March.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.