Count all staff and their roles, UNISON tells NHS

The NHS needs to value and recognise all its staff and the work they do

NHS staff need to be properly recorded by the jobs they do, to get proper – and usable – workforce data, says UNISON.

The call comes in the union’s response to a consultation by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) on whether its data should include a new “frontline NHS staff” category.

The NHS obtains its workforce data by using statistics recorded by the information centre, which launched the consultation on how it records staff groups earlier this year.

UNISON’s response said it is “wrong and unhelpful” to lump all of the non clinical roles into a few, generic groups.

For example, said the union, it is too broad to group members into “clerical” and “hotel, property and estates”.

Instead, it argued for more categories to describe the actual roles staff perform, breaking these down into IT, clerical, finance clerical, cleaners, porters, caterers, and so on.

The response also argued that a “frontline NHS staff” category would create a false divide between NHS staff – and leave staff who aren’t on the “front line” open to more attacks on top of the cuts, downbanding and outsourcing they have already experienced.

UNISON also asked how “frontline” would be defined?

Interaction with the public and patients will vary from day to day, it noted, while if frontline were simply another word for clinical, it would imply that support staff don’t affect patient care – which the union says would be both unfair and misleading.

The outcome of the consultation will be posted on the workforce area of the HSCIC website this autumn.