Health professionals, including health visitors, paramedics and school nurses, could be paying up to £1,200-a-year for their own public indemnity insurance, if they wish to work, under government proposals.
Many hard-up, mainly female, health professionals, who have only had a one-per cent pay rise in the last three years as household bills soar, won’t be able to afford to pay this new ‘tax on jobs’.
Unite, the country’s largest union which represents 100,000 members in the health service, said that as women make up 70 per cent of the NHS workforce, the proposals “smack of inequality”.
Unite said that the sub-text to the proposals in the Health Care and Associated Professions (Indemnity Arrangements) Order 2013, is aimed at lessening the costs for private firms gobbling up lucrative NHS contracts.
Unite said that this would be another ‘tax on work’ on top of the recent 32 per cent increase in the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registration fee to £100-a-year.
In its response to the consultation, Unite said: “We have estimated that there would be a potential increase for our members of £50-£100 per month.
“Our members increasingly tell us that employers are refusing to provide them with cover and are insisting that they take out their own at their own cost. Consequently, our members are finding themselves in a position of not being fully covered.
“We do not agree that it should be the responsibility of healthcare professionals to have to demonstrate that they have an indemnity arrangement in place as part of their registration.”
Unite said it must be “mandatory” for employers to provide the appropriate cover for their employees as the best way to offer protection to the public.
Unite professional officer Jane Beach said: “It should be accepted this proposal is wrong on a number of levels. It is accepted practice that employers across the board provide the right level of insurance for their staff.
“The fact that mainly women will be expected to fork out up to £1,200-a-year smacks of inequality, with more than a whiff of sexual discrimination. Many health professionals, buffeted by ever-rising living costs, won't be able to pay this 'tax'.
“The sub-text here is that the government wants to privatise large swathes of the NHS as quickly as possible and the lower the employment costs that private firms have to pay, the more attractive NHS contracts will become.”
The proposal will affect all those registered with the NMC, and the Health and Care Professions Council.
Unite embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association; the Mental Health Nurses Association; the Society of Sexual Health Advisors; and Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists.
Note to news editors:
For further information please contact Jane Beach on 07919 324 716 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940.
The full Unite consultation can be accessed here
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.