UNISON vows to stand up for members over ‘savings’ review

Union presents interim research into Carter Review recommendations on English NHS as health conference opens

two hospital chefs

UNISON can influence how the Carter Review into efficiency in the English NHS affects members’ jobs, says interim research into the review’s effects.

The findings are being released today, as delegates gather for the union’s health conference in Brighton.

“Many threats remain from the Carter report, but these interim findings are reassuring in many ways,” says UNISON head of health Christina McAnea.

“They show that key management figures in the NHS and in English hospitals value the work of administrative staff in relieving clinical staff of administrative tasks and in making hospitals more efficient.”

The review was published by the government in February, and details plans to save £5bn a year in English hospitals by 2020.

UNISON was quick to challenge a number of its “potentially alarming” recommendations, which include the outsourcing of pathology, pharmacy and support services to achieve cuts.

Since then, the union has been working with researchers to investigate the likely impact on staff, particularly those working in trusts’ corporate and administrative functions.

The researchers spoke to senior figures in English hospitals and other NHS organisations, as well as other opinion formers and UNISON members.

The value placed on the work of admin staff uncovered by the research “chimes very strongly” with UNISON’s One team for patient care campaign, which highlights the vital role of staff in support services, said Ms McAnea.

“Without these staff the NHS would grind to a halt, with nurses and others having to spend more of their time filling in forms or tidying wards than directly with patients,” she added.

UNISON’s researchers will meet delegates to the union’s health conference this week to learn about their experiences.

They particularly wish to draw attention to the past problems of privatisation in the NHS, which has consistently failed to produce either quality outcomes or cost savings.

Their final report will be produced in May.

“What is clear from the report so far is that major opportunities continue to exist for UNISON to influence the way the Carter recommendations are carried out,” said Ms McAnea.

“The union will continue to stand up for our members working in pathology, pharmacy and support services, who could be most affected by Carter.”