Tuesday, 11 November 2014

UNISON survey shows Scotland’s occupational therapists struggling to maintain service

A report out today (Tuesday) by UNISON shows that Scotland’s occupational therapists are struggling to maintain the level of service their patients need in light of budget cuts and staffing shortages.

Those surveyed in the report – Under Pressure: Scotland’s occupational therapists speak out – said they had huge concerns about the impact cuts are having on the service. An overwhelming majority (82%) reported increased workloads, 60% reported having to cope with reduced members of staff and almost half (48%) reported funding cuts.

There were recurring themes among the concerns: assessments being overruled because of resource pressures; and failure by management to replace absent colleagues, specifically for maternity leave which, given the virtually all-female composition of the workforce, is more common than in many other groups of staff. When asked if they regularly worked more than their contracted hours 60% of respondents said they did – an extra five hours a week was the average.

While the majority (58%) of respondents reported their standard of living had dropped in the last 3-4 years. Some of the views included:

“Staffing has gone down in the last few years but the same level of service is expected. You begin to dread someone saying they are pregnant because you know you will be left really short during mat leave which is an unpleasant feeling because you want to be pleased for people’s good news.”

“Senior managers are now scrutinising OT recommendations and refusing some, despite a qualified OT having made the clinical decision that equipment or adaptations are required to meet the client’s needs.”

• “Everything costs more but pay doesn’t match the increase. I have to be careful to only buy essentials when shopping.”

Sandra Dee Masson, an occupational therapist and vice chair of UNISON Scotland’s Health Committee, said: “Occupational therapy plays a vital role and yet isn’t taken into account when planning services and looking forward to patient care. Failing to properly utilise occupational therapists in the planning process completely undermines the effectiveness of change, there are instances where patients are discharged from hospital with inadequate OT consideration which results in readmission.

“Better investment in and coordination with occupational therapists would not only improve the patient journey, but it would improve outcomes, deliver better value for public money and improve the working lives of a dedicated group of workers who are very definitely under pressure.”

Dave Watson, UNISON’s head of bargaining and campaigns, said: “The picture that emerges from this report is one of a dedicated but frustrated workforce wanting to deliver a service but finding it increasingly difficult to do so. Pressures on budgets and changes to service delivery mean they are increasingly unable to deliver a service to the standard of which they are capable. Workforce demand is increasing while the workforce itself is diminishing. “This is played out against a backdrop of the majority of the workforce finding that their own personal circumstances are becoming more difficult as inflation and minimal or absent pay rises eat away at the value of their wages.”

Copies of the report can be found here

Monday, 10 November 2014

Vote YES to keep your union's voice

UNISON Scotland is urging all members to defend the union’s campaigning voice by voting ‘yes’ to keep its unique political fund. The ballot runs from 1-30 November.

Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish secretary explains: “Like all trade unions, UNISON is required in law to have a political fund for campaigning generally and specifically to affiliate or donate to any political party.

“UNISON is unique in giving members four options - to join the General Political Fund for general campaigning, or the Affiliated Fund which is connected to the Labour Party, or contribute to both, or to opt out of the fund.

What’s political?

The best way to define this is to list the kind of campaigns that the union could not have mounted without a political fund.

promoting and defending public services through Scotland’s Public Works campaign

lobbying and campaigning against outsourcing and privatisation, including the victory in Edinburgh

campaigning for fairer pay through the Worth It campaign

fighting racism and discrimination, including our successful fight against the BNP

defending pensions

improving employment rights, including paid holidays, rights for agency workers - and building support to stamp out zero hours contract abuses

getting legislation for more equality including through public sector equalities duties

extending coverage of the Scottish Living Wage and getting this issue up the political agenda in the Scottish Parliament and in public sector agencies and the Third Sector.

UNISON Scotland support for the People’s Assembly and we have contributed to a new campaigning guide issued by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity Scotland.

UNISON Scotland responses to consultations conducted by the Scottish Parliament are in part resourced from the Political Fund and have included:

Appointments to Public Bodies Building Standards Careers Service Energy & Fuel Poverty Environment Equality Ethical Standards m Finance Freedom of Information Health & Community Care Housing Justice Lobbying PPP/PFI Regulation of Care.

More about UNISON's Unique Political Fund

Following a ballot of all members in 1995, UNISON uniquely decided to have a political fund with two sections. Following a ballot in Mrach 2005, 85% of those who voted said Yes to continue the fund, which will allow UNISON to continue campaigning in the political arena, including the current campaign to defend public sector pensions.

The General Political Fund (GPF) which finances political campaigns in the wider public arena. It is not affiliated to any political party - is used for general campaigning, for example the long campaign for a Scottish Parliament. A branch can access these funds when it needs to run campaigns concerning political decisions.

The Affiliated Political Fund (APF) or LabourLink finances our affiliation to the Labour Party.

Members individually choose which fund to contribute to. They can also decide to opt out of any political levy or contribute to both funds.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Monklands petitioning

Great day at Monklands yesterday fellow workers, patients and visitors supporting our campaign to end the Pro£steering in NHS Lanarkshire. Over 500 names on our petitions and 200 individual letters to local politicians! SOLIDARITY AT WORK