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Mon 4 July 2011

‘We’re all frontline’ says UNISON as it marks 63rd birthday of NHS

UNISON, Scotland’s largest health union representing thousands of staff across the NHS, will tomorrow (Tuesday) mark the 63rd birthday of the NHS with the launch of its ‘I am frontline’ campaign.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the vital role each member of staff plays in delivering NHS services, and to dispel the myth of ‘frontline’ and ‘back office’ staff.

NHS workers and union officials will meet at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary at 12.30pm tomorrow (Tuesday) to mark the occasion with ‘I am frontline’ birthday cakes, cards and giant campaign posters. Similar events will take place at Raigmore Hospital, in Inverness, at 1.30pm, and Lothian Western General, in Edinburgh, at 12.30pm.

Thomas Waterson, chair of UNISON’s Scottish Health Committee, said: “The frontline, back office split is a myth and our campaign is designed to dispel this myth. We often hear politicians say they will protect frontline staff, but who are they talking about?

“Without cleaners, infections would spread across the hospital. Without porters to take tests to the lab, we would never know what’s wrong with patients. Without medical secretaries, ward clerks, admin and finance staff, patient records wouldn’t be kept, patient appointments wouldn’t be booked and supplies wouldn’t be ordered or paid for. So are these staff frontline?

“The fact is, we’re all frontline. It’s a whole team of workers who deliver NHS services and one cannot operate without the other.”

John Gallacher, regional manager for UNISON, said: “The NHS needs all its staff to keep the wheels of the NHS working.

“The 63rd birthday of the NHS is the perfect time to celebrate the hard work done by every single member of staff and to take a step back and say thank you. The best present the UK and Scottish Governments could give is to recognise the excellent work carried out by NHS staff and the important part we each play in delivering NHS services.”



Notes to editors

1.    The National Health Service was established on July 5, 1948. Since then, NHS Scotland has provided everyone with access to health care free at the point of use, funded by general taxation. The NHS has undergone many changes throughout its history, and continues to face challenges, but it remains vital to the lives of the whole population.

2.    The 60,000 UNISON members who work in NHS Scotland, and many more in local government and the voluntary sector, are key and committed players in the teams delivering the nation’s health, and all of our 165,000 members, their families and their communities benefit from the public health ethos of the NHS.

3.    For more information on the challenges facing the NHS in Scotland, please download our briefing at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/briefings/b007_PolicyBrief_NHSBirthday_July2011.pdf

4.    For further information contact John Gallacher, regional manager for UNISON, on 07904 342 426, or Willie Duffy, regional organiser for UNISON, on 07904 342 129, or Trisha Hamilton, communications officer, on 07939 478 461.