SICKNESS ABSENCE IN THE NHS

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Conference
2010 Health Care Service Group Conference
Date
1 December 2009
Decision
Carried

Conference notes the potential for lack of funding in healthcare and other associated Organisations, due to the broad financial restraints, which will impact upon and cut across all public sector budgets.

Large employing organisations are required by Health and Safety law to work with recognised UNISON Health and Safety Officers to reduce the burden of risk within the workplace, and for further justification, we believe that this reduction of funding will potentially mean that environments that can make members ill in the workplace could prosper as a result.

This motion seeks to gain support for the incorporationof a risk based approach built into NHS sickness absence policies.

East Lancashire health branch believes that scoping an organisation initially to identify high risk work areas and factors, will benefit the membership by looking at the recognised factors that can cause ill health at work and prevent or reduce those factors known to impact on our members. We also contend that the underpinning structure of a sickness absence policy would naturally benefit form a natural form of risk based strategy – after all, employers are required to identify organisational risks.

Increasingly, the long hours culture, shortage of staff, lack of training, overwhelming workloads, difficulties in taking time off in lieu, shortage of equipment etc, will lead to sufficient causation for workplace stress to become present, and where this is not captured by risk assessment, the cause of harm is often undiagnosed until after our members suffer ill health. UNISON believes that this is too late for our members, particularly those who have been made so ill at work that their job is at risk. We therefore seek joint inspection of the workplace to identify and reduce the factors that are commonly known to create workplace stress, and other work-related illnesses.

Conference requests that UNISON, through the most appropriate channels, enter into talks with health provider employing organisations to ensure that a facility, designed to reduce workplace stress and other work related illnesses, is incorporated into sickness absence policy documents, thereby safeguarding the health and wellbeing of UNISON members within the healthcare team.