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Issue:- 23 September 2010


UNISON, the UK’s leading public sector union, is warning the NHS not to take healthcare assistants (HCAs) for granted, after a survey revealed more than 50% had considered leaving the NHS, with the main reason being that they felt undervalued.

In today’s NHS, HCAs are at the heart of patient bedside care. They make a huge contribution to the health service, but have only patchy access to training, with 23% still not getting an annual appraisal. More than 50% said that they are not being developed to their full potential.

Gail Adams, UNISON Head of Nursing, said:- “Health care assistants are the unsung hero’s of the NHS. Their role has evolved to become the bedrock of care in today’s health service. But they persistently feel undervalued. It’s high time the vital contribution they make to caring for patients was properly recognised.  The role of HCA has to be put on a firmer footing. UNISON would like to see the postcode lottery of training come to an end, with every HCA having an annual appraisal. HCAs also see regulation as an important step in the right direction. Improving access to training would tap into the well of talent and dedication amongst HCAs. It would also have the knock on effect of boosting job satisfaction, and reducing the numbers who consider leaving the NHS.  The survey also revealed that 52% thought staffing in wards was inadequate. This is very worrying, given the financial constraints set to hit the NHS throughout this parliament, which could see staffing levels drop.”

Key findings from the survey:-

► Over half the respondents said they felt they had not yet reached their potential.

► 60% said they thought feeling undervalued was one of the main reasons for wanting to leave the job.

► The main tasks carried out are the bedrock of care – bathing, feeding and monitoring patients.

► More HCAs now have appraisals, but 23% did not.

► 50% had considered leaving the NHS last year.

► There has been a drop in the number of HCAs who want to take their careers forward with training – from 41% in 2008, to 33% this time round, and those more interested in training are skewed towards the younger age profile.

► HCAs are keen to see regulation introduced, which they see as fundamental to patient safety and setting standards.

► HCAs are concerned about staffing levels – with 52% saying staffing on their wards is inadequate. With budgets set to be squeezed, there is real concern that this might intensify.

► An increase in violence – with two-thirds witnessing or experiencing violence or aggression, and a 3% increase in the number of people threatened with a weapon.

► More work needs to be done looking at why more HCAs are on a higher banding in a mental health setting, with clear job profiles drawn up, to make sure staff are being treated fairly.

Children, bring your Teddy for a health check

AS part of the Play in Hospital Week, there is an open afternoon at the Children's Outpatient Department at Ormskirk Hospital where children of all ages are invited to bring their teddy for a health check. The 'Teddy Clinic' is on Friday, 24 September 2010, between 1pm and 5pm.

As well as the 'Teddy Clinic' there will be a name the teddy competition, face painting, a colouring competition and a cake sale. Hospital Play Specialists Amanda Walker and Caroline Bailey will be on hand to help the children join in the fun.

Amanda Walker, Play Specialist at Ormskirk Children's Unit said, "A lot of my friends think I spend all day finger painting, but it's far more complicated than that! Yes, one of our tasks is to help prevent children who are staying in hospital getting bored and to help them have as pleasant an experience as possible, but our main duties are in the various clinics helping the doctors, nurses and other clinical staff. If a child has to have an injection or some other test, then it is our job to distract them, helping to take their mind off what is happening by interacting with them."

Parents and children are invited to come to the Children's Outpatient Department on level 1 at Ormskirk & District General Hospital on Friday, 24 September 2010, between 1pm and 5pm to meet Amanda and Caroline.


ON a visit to Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant, Business Secretary Vince Cable said:- “I have been hugely impressed by what I’ve seen in Ellesmere Port. The plant has transformed itself to become one of GM Europe’s most efficient and productive manufacturing plants. GM’s decision to build its new Astra model at Ellesmere Port was a big win for the UK. At the plant I’ve heard about the work Vauxhall is doing to make manufacturing careers more attractive to young people and met the apprentices who are learning the skills that will help stimulate economic growth and innovation in the UK. Ellesmere Port disproves claims that Britain does not make anything anymore. The cars made in this factory are exported all over Europe and I had the opportunity to drive a brand new vehicle straight off the production line.” The visit on 22 September 2010 has been seen as a vote of confidence and a clear sign of a stable future for the plant's workforce.


NEW research shows young adults in the North West wasting hours on hangovers.  64% of young adults in the North West spend at least half a day recovering when they have a hangover, according to new research by alcohol awareness charity Drinkaware. On average, hangovers occur more than twice a month and 1 in 10 of 18 to 24 year olds in the region waste an entire day suffering the ill effects of drinking too much the night before.

To help avoid a hangover and a good night taking a turn for the worse, Hollyoaks babes Claire Cooper (who plays Jacqui McQueen) and Gemma Merna (who plays Carmel Valentine, nee McQueen) are fronting Drinkaware’s ‘Why Let Good Times Go Bad?’ campaign.

The Hollyoaks water babes are encouraging young adults in the North West to ‘get watered not slaughtered’ by drinking water or soft drinks to space their alcoholic drinks on a night out. Encouragingly, 9% of young adults in the North West already claims to drink water or a soft drink in between every alcoholic drink.

Commenting on the campaign, Hollyoaks babe Gemma Merna who plays character Carmel Valentine (nee McQueen) in the hit TV series, says:- “We all like a good night out but it’s never good to have that drink which tips you over the edge and ruins not only your night but the next day too. Believe me, I’ve learnt the hard way! Get watered, not slaughtered and don’t let the good times go bad.”

As well as encouraging young adults to drink water or soft drinks on a night out, the ‘Why Let Good Times Go Bad?’ campaign, run in partnership with more than 40 companies from across the drinks industry and Coca-Cola Great Britain, presents other smarter drinking tips including eating before drinking and looking after your mates. The tips are designed to avoid a good night going bad and feeling awful the next day. The research of young adults conducted by ICM also showed that 29% of young adults in the North West who drink have missed out on studying because of a hangover, 26% forfeit going to the gym, 18% have missed work while 13% have missed lunch with friends or family as a result of drinking too much.

Chris Sorek, Chief Executive of Drinkaware, says:- “Drinking water or soft drinks on a night out is a simple thing to do but it can really help young adults in the North West stay in control of their drinking on a night out.  Apart from drinking too much, hangovers are caused by ethanol, the alcohol in our drinks, which acts as a diuretic. This makes you pee more and as a result become dehydrated, one of the main causes of the headache, dry mouth, dizziness and constant nausea that people often suffer if they’ve over indulged the night before.  Obviously the best way to avoid a hangover is not to drink too much, but not drinking on an empty stomach and drinking plenty of water or soft drinks can help avoid a good time going bad and the dreaded morning after feeling the next day.”

As part of the ‘Why Let Good Times Go Bad?’ campaign, more than 16,000 pubs and bars across the UK during September will carry campaign posters and drink mats alongside 7,000 supermarkets, convenience stores and off licences.

The campaign logo will feature on more than 13 million products.

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