Friday, 30 November 2012

Match our vision for a Fairer Scotland – UNISON issues referendum challenge

Scotland’s largest union in public services today issued a challenge to campaigners in the independence referendum.

UNISON Scotland said both sides must answer questions about how their scheme will match the aspirations and vision of UNISON members.  

Tomorrow (Saturday) sees the formal launch in Glasgow of “For a Fairer Scotland” – a document which outlines the union’s priorities in the forthcoming debate on the constitution.

Alongside this, the union has framed questions that members will be encouraged to put to all those campaigning around the referendum in the coming months.

“For A Fairer Scotland” does not advocate support for either the “Yes” campaign or “Better Together”.  Instead it challenges those campaigns and others to show how their plans can match UNISON’s vision.

For a Fairer Scotland states:

“UNISON’s approach to constitutional questions is one that is driven by the interests of our members, by the sort of Scotland we want to, and deserve to, live in.  This means that for us precise constitutional arrangements are the end, not the starting point of the debate. We must first define the sort of Scotland we wish to see and then try and examine the likelihood of differing constitutional arrangements on offer to deliver on that vision.”

UNISON Scottish Secretary  Mike Kirby said:  “We are not interested in an argument about national identity.  It’s not where the power lies, but in whose interest that power is exercised that really matters. Today we have outlined our principles for a better, fairer Scotland. It is the task of others to show how their proposals match up to those principles.”

Lilian Macer, Scottish Convener, said: “What we are looking for is a willingness to tackle inequalities, poor health and deprivation. Doing that is social change. Unless it is explained how this is to be achieved, arguments for or against constitutional change mean very little.”

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


More than 70% of healthcare assistants have been the victim of aggression and violence at work, a new survey from UNISON has revealed.

The survey of nearly 1200 healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners revealed that 13% of those who had been the victim of violence at work had been threatened with a weapon, while nearly a fifth had been the victim of an assault that required medical assistance or first aid.

The survey paints a shocking picture of the reality of work for healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners in today’s NHS, with more than 40% of respondents saying that they had considered leaving their profession either fairly or very seriously over the last year.

The results shine a harsh light on the problems facing the NHS as a result of government cuts, with more than 85% saying they felt staffing levels had become insufficient over the last year. Only 11% believed that staffing levels were adequate in their clinical area.

Commenting on the survey, Christina McAnea, UNISON head of health said:

“This survey illustrates the sometimes grim reality for healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners, whose already challenging job is made harder by inadequate staffing and the threat of aggression and violence.

“HCAs and APs provide a fundamental care to some of the most vulnerable patients, yet what we are seeing is that they do not feel valued by their employers, and even less so by the government, whose cuts agenda is placing them, and professionals across the health service, under enormous pressure.

“When four in ten HCAs are considering leaving the profession, something is very wrong. This survey is demonstrating the real impact of government cuts – demoralised staff who are trying to deliver the best possible care they can in ever more difficult circumstances.

“It is time for the government to think again about the damage that its demand for £20bn in so called ‘efficiency savings’ is having on the NHS.  Cuts aren’t working, and if these vital professionals are depleted even more, the impact on patient care will be enormous.”

Healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners play a vital role in healthcare delivery, yet only 2.1% said they felt the government respected their role, a stark contrast to the almost 80% who said that patients valued their work.

More than 80% of those who responded said they believed that HCAs should be regulated in the same way as other healthcare professionals such as nurses, to protect patients, ensure high standards and maintain skills.

The survey coincides with UNISON’s annual Healthcare Assistant Seminar in Glasgow, which will look at the current debates and hot issues affecting Healthcare Assistants in today’s healthcare environment, including regulation, role design and best practice.