This week is UNISON’s One Team week where we celebrate the whole team of staff who make the NHS work.
NHS support staff make a vital contribution to the NHS every minute of every day, but often their work goes unnoticed. Most of the public don’t see the staff who work behind the scenes, whose vital work keeps the NHS running and who make sure patients and their families get the best treatment possible – so too often their vital roles are ignored.
UNISON is proud to represent NHS support staff who make such a valuable contribution. They cook for patients, transport them around hospitals, maintain vital equipment, order medical supplies, manage computer systems, clean our hospitals, pay bills, dispense medicines, do laundry and oversee the day to day running of services in hospitals and GP surgeries.
Imagine if they weren’t there. The NHS would grind to a halt and our nurses, paramedics and doctors wouldn’t be able to do their jobs.
NHS support staff are proud to work for the NHS and I am proud to be General Secretary of the union that represents them. And I believe it’s high time politicians, employers and the public were proud of them too.
Instead, ministers persist in trying to create an artificial divide between so called ‘front-line’ staff and ‘back office’ functions. Employers are still considering creating subsidiary companies (subcos) and transferring support staff into them – even though our members’ willingness to take industrial action to stay in the NHS has led to a pause in this policy.
This union won’t stop fighting subcos until everyone understands how important it is to keep support staff in the NHS. Team work is the key, but it can’t work if half the squad is transferred out.
We are proud of all our members, everyday, but One Team week gives us the chance to focus on NHS support staff, make them more visible and show them how much we appreciate what they do. And it’s an opportunity for me – for all of us – to thank them for their incredible work.
Make sure you watch our new films celebrating the vital role played by cleaners, medical secretaries and porters. You can see them at unison.org.uk/oneteam