A Future for Young People in the NHS?

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2014 Health Care Service Group Conference
6 December 2013

Conference notes that UNISON has done much good work to defend the jobs, and terms and conditions of members in the National Health Service (NHS), through national and local negotiations, as well as campaigning to defend the NHS itself.

Conference further notes that it is the public service nature of the NHS which has been a key motivator in encouraging many workers to seek employment with the NHS. However, as Government policies drive the English service towards an increasingly business-oriented model, that motivator is being eroded, and workers looking to careers in public services have less reason to look to the NHS. The fall in real terms of graduate pay value of between 8 and 12% over the past three years is yet another cause for concern when competing for graduate recruitment in particular.

The future for young people entering the NHS workforce now, is also looking substantially different from those who joined the service before them: more job insecurity, longer working hours, irregular shift patterns, increasing movement between health and care environments.

Conference believes that in the face of the need to encourage young workers into the NHS, and the growing business-orientation, there is a need for negotiations around jobs, terms and conditions to ensure that future recruitment and retention is an important consideration. Such negotiations must go further than protecting existing staff, but must also look to making employment in the service on the basis of secure contracts for those who join after the current generation.

Conference calls on the Health Service Group Executive to ensure that negotiating guidance produced for branches takes these issues into account, with the aim of ensuring a continuing legacy of decent, secure jobs.