Seven-day NHS needs resourcing across the whole healthcare team

Debate should not focus only on doctors and nurses say delegates at UNISON’s health conference in Brighton

female cleaner in a hospital

“Seven-day NHS services sound perfectly reasonable,” Lynn Ward from the union’s science, technical and therapy group told delegates to the UNISON health conference in Brighton this morning.

But without increased resources, unsafe staffing levels become a risk, she said.

The debate on safe staffing should not focus only on doctors and nurses she continued: “This is an oversimplification of the NHS.

“The artificial division between the front line and the back office is divisive and inaccurate.”

Katrina Coomber told delegates that one of her members had said to her: “I’m only a cleaner.” Ms Coomber replied: “No one is nobody in the NHS. We’re all cogs in the machine.”

But, she said, “if a chief executive takes a fortnight off, no-one notices. If a ward wasn’t cleaned for two weeks, what would be the consequences?

“Our members are not well paid,” she concluded, “but you cannot put a price on the pride our housekeeping staff have in their work.”

Delegates urged each other to support the union’s One Team for Patient Safety campaign, making the argument for the importance of support staff working alongside clinical staff.