Date: 11 March 2010
Public service cuts threaten safety and care standards - UNISON
Reports from public service workers throughout Scotland indicate
that vacancy freezes and lack of absence cover are threatening
safety, and reducing the levels of care to vulnerable said the
public service union UNISON today.
An email survey of members, undertaken over the last few weeks,
for the union's Public Works campaign is showing that this is
the main impact of funding cuts over the last two years.
Dave Watson - UNISON's Scottish Organiser, said "It is too early
to provide a comprehensive picture of cuts through this survey,
but over 50% of respondents identified a vacancy freeze operating
in their workplace. As this survey only covers the last two years
of cuts, it means that the horrendous future cuts threatened can
only directly threaten the safety of both staff and service users.
"Members are highlighting to us the dangers to people in
their care, the risk of reduced safety cover, and how backroom
staff cuts force staff off the frontline. That is why we are calling
a march and rally in Glasgow on April 10 to bring together communities
and service deliverers to call on politicians to stop the cuts
and to adopt UNISON's alternative budget "
UNISON's email survey of members is still being analysed but
key findings have already come to light. Many members have taken
the opportunity to identify concerns about how these cuts impact
in their workplace.
A number of quotes from anonymous responders follow.
'The weekly food budget for residents of this care home has been
reduced from £72 per resident to less than £17' - cook, residential
'In this small section, no cover has been provided for one maternity
leave and two long term sickness absences...' - member, Environmental
'vulnerable adults now get less care hours, and staff no longer
have the time to spend on each individuals needs. They are left
alone for a greater period of time, hence increasing the risk.'
- member, care service
'Admin takes up an inordinate amount of my time. Time better
used doing face-to-face work with young people.' - youth worker
Dave Watson said "Politicians shouting for public spending cuts
should listen to the voices from the frontline. Services are already
stretched to breaking point, the further cuts that some propose
will bring service levels far below acceptable levels - either
of care, or even of safety."
Notes for editors: The survey was taken from a random sample
by email through UNISON's membership system and is currently being
analysed fully, but of 269 responses, 144 identified a vacancy
freeze and 28, no absence cover or overtime. Quotes have been
provided under cover of anonymity.