As many of you will be aware, we met with Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, yesterday to discuss pay from the grassroots perspective and to also address the many issues faced while working in the NHS during this current crisis.
We spoke about many issues from pay, to safe staffing, patient safety, the health and care bill, the SNP recovery plan, and privatisation. We do feel like Mr Yousaf really listened to us and took heed of our concerns, though did state that there will never be a quick fix, which we obviously understand.
The fear of privatisation continually weighs on many of our minds, and Mr Yousaf stated that he doesn’t want to see any area of the NHS privatised and that he is actively trying to remove any elements of privatisation that exists within the NHS; most recently the removal of parking charges from many hospitals, with more work still to be done in Lanarkshire, for example.
In terms of outcomes and actions moving forward. Mr Yousaf promised to take our points around pay into the 2022/2023 pay deal, particularly looking to address the increase in the cost of living, the increase in inflation and NI that was recently given to us (negating our 4% “pay rise” to -0.45%). He reinforced to us that STAC is the formal process for pay discussions and negotiations, and as such, it’s essential that individuals engage with their unions to ensure that the unions are representing their wants and needs. He agreed that asking for a pay rise that kept inline with inflation was a perfectly reasonable ask and when discussing the London Economics Report (link below) he stated he would gladly take those facts to present to his counterparts in Westminster to push for more funding for healthcare workers.
With regards to agenda for change, and how that unfair system is no longer fit for purpose, Mr Yousaf stated that reevaluating something like that is a massive job, and now, understandably, isn’t the time to take on something like that, but confirmed that it wouldn’t be off the table in future.
When talking about the current staffing crisis and patient safety issues, we collated all of your thoughts, feelings and experiences into a document which has been sent to the Cabinet Secretary. We also read out several anonymised quotes, which he found to be very powerful, raw and honest testimonies which clearly come from a place of genuine sincerity because we care about the service in which we work. We raised concerns about safe staffing levels and patient safety issues, and that many feel like these issues are being downplayed, or aren’t being accurately related by management and board members. Thus, Mr Yousaf suggested meeting with Whistleblowing champions from each board to find out exactly what is being said on the ground, how many complaints they are receiving and what the nature of those complaints are.
Having said that, we can’t explore you all enough to please, please datix any staffing issues or patient safety issues you have, and if no suitable response or action is put in place, please report these to your trusts Whistleblowing Champion or Confidential Contact. You should be able to find your trusts champions/contacts on their website. Or, if you’d prefer, we can forward any complaints on your behalf if you’re worried about anonymity.
One area Mr Yousaf was keen to get our input and suggestions on was regarding staff well-being. We spoke about hubs in several of the larger hospitals, and while that was a nice idea, it was only useful if you were able to get actually get your break to access this, and in fact, many hospitals don’t have these hubs at all. He has asked for us to present any suggestions we might have as to what we think will benefit our mental health/well-being at work. So, suggestions on a postcard below, it can be anything you think would benefit you and your colleagues, big or small, and we will present them to the cabinet secretary who has promised to do what he can with what he has.
In conclusion, Mr Yousaf thanked us for the work we all do, and stated he and his officials are keen to continue to engage with us and keep the conversation going. He has promised that he’ll do whatever he can to make sure the government is valuing and recognising us.