MSPs NHS Workforce BriefingMarch 2004
On Thursday 26th February the Scottish
Parliament will debate an Executive motion on building and supporting the NHS
workforce. UNISON Scotland welcomes the high priority given to staffing issues
as reflected in the decision of the Minister for Health to amend the NHS Reform
(Scotland) Bill to include staff governance.
However there are still some recruitment
and retention issues within the National Health Service in Scotland which need
to be addressed. These include concerns relating to the current age profile of
staff working in the NHS, with some Scottish trusts facing 60% of their staff
retiring within the next 15 years. The Scottish Executive should work towards
making the NHS an attractive career option by implementing a range of policies
aimed at attracting and retaining staff. This would include family friendly policies
that have been agreed but have not yet been implemented.
Scotland also support the concept of a Scotland-wide human resources strategy
to provide common conditions of service across all NHS Health Boards. One issue
that UNISON Scotland would wish to see developed would be the concept of associated
NHS employees. This would allow NHS employees to retain their accumulated service
conditions if they were to transfer their employment to other parts of the NHS
in Scotland. UNISON Scotland believes that this would aid the retention and recruitment
of experienced staff as well as providing opportunities for career development.
For this issue to be implemented a formally constituted negotiating body, including
trade unions, would need to be established at the Scottish bargaining level. Such
as move would also lessen the pressures within Agenda for Change regarding the
implementation of any new pay and conditions scheme.
UNISON Scotland is concerned about the
treatment of NHS staff recruited from abroad. This follows on from recent reports
that nurses recruited from overseas are facing exploitation from recruitment agencies.
UNISON Scotland believe that there should be better protection for this section
of the workforce and calls on the Scottish Executive to establish an agency to
oversee their pay and conditions as well as looking after their interests.
The proposals within Agenda for Change will
lead to the most radical change in determining pay and conditions for NHS staff
since the creation of the NHS in 1948. However while NHS consultants are receiving
increases of between 25 – 30%, the current proposals within Agenda for Change
could result in up to 30% of NHS staff actually losing money.
a time when the NHS is having problems recruiting and retaining staff, such changes
in terms and conditions will not make the NHS an attractive career option for
order to overcome current and future staffing problems the Scottish Executive
has to ensure that working the NHS in Scotland is an attractive career option.
This includes overcoming the problems with Agenda for Change, implementing family
friendly policies, moving to associated employee status and proper protection
of NHS staff from overseas.