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Health workers fear for patient safety in under resourced NHS

UNITE snapshot poll reveals significant proportion thinking of leaving their jobs

Caroline White

Friday, 06 December 2019

Health workers fear for patient safety amid under resourced services, and a significant number are thinking about leaving their jobs, reveals a snapshot survey, carried out by the union Unite.

The poll of nearly 2,000 health service union members shows that most (95%) respondents said that the government isn’t doing enough to train the staff that the NHS needs.

And a significant proportion (72% of nurses and 65% of all respondents) said they had raised concerns about safe staffing in their working area/department over the past 12 months.

Seven out of 10 respondents said they had experienced frequent staff shortages at work in the past 12 months, with nearly two thirds (63%) stating that they frequently or always worked more than their contractual hours.

Two thirds (67%) of respondents said that they have “very seriously” or “fairly seriously” considered leaving their current position within the past 12 months.

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “These figures are frightening in terms of patient safety. If you join up the dots from the information supplied this week by our members, there is a spreading mosaic of concern.”

Members were polled the week beginning 2 December 2019: 1,872 people responded from every part of the UK. They included ambulance staff, health visitors, nurses, pharmacy, allied health professionals, scientists, ancillary staff, admin and clerical staff, doctors, managers, psychologists, and estates and maintenance staff.

Unite national officer for health Jackie Williams suggested that next Thursday would be “a watershed moment” for voters to decide on the future of the NHS.

“We need the next decade to be one of investment, consolidation, improvement and optimum patient safety – and the last thing the NHS needs is for it to be up for grabs in any trade deal with Donald Trump,” she insisted referring to the period after Britain leaves the European Union when it will be looking to strike more international trade deals.

The findings come as campaign group, Keep our NHS Public revealed that over a million people have now signed a Change.org petition started in June by junior doctor Sonia Adesara and Keep Our NHS Public to prevent the NHS becoming part of any US trade deal.

An alliance of 13+ organisations is now calling for legislative change to legally take the NHS off the negotiating table, prompting several hundred prospective parliamentary candidates from all parties to sign a pledge committing to keep the NHS out of any future trade deals.

Dr Adesara said she had been overwhelmed by the strength of public support. "Let this million-strong petition serve as a warning to the next government that the NHS is not for sale. The new government would be wise to heed it."


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