Thursday, November 20, 2014

Abject Stupidity

So, according to this story, due to an accounting error, nursing staff at the emblematic Great Ormond Street Hospital have been overpaid by 6.5hrs worth and the hospital wants it back. The chief nurse has written to nursing staff, telling them to work additional shifts to make up the time.

The problem with this story is how is doesn't remotely surprise me. Several years ago a hospital trust I worked in sent a similar email to all the ward sisters; which one of them showed to me. A period of very heavy snow resulted in many staff struggling to get in to work. The email told all ward sisters that as a matter of policy any member of staff who arrived late due to the weather would be expected to work through breaks or stay late to make up the time. No 'thank you' for the huge efforts some had to make to get in, just a clear expectation of time 'owing' being paid back.
Just for the record, I want to state that, as anyone who's ever worked in a hospital or seen the inner workings knows, it is very much a normal day when clinical staff work through breaks or stay late because of a caring attitude and/or professional responsibility. Indeed, if I was a union rep in GOSH, my response would be to send the management of the hospital a bill for all the unpaid overtime that is done by virtually all nursing staff. I can assure you that it would be a lot more than 6.5hours/year. For many medical staff I know, 6.5hours of unpaid overtime would constitute a quiet week.
For me though, what makes me very annoyed about these stories, is not the unjust nature of it. That is not to say that doesn't bother me, it really does: it's a big slap in the face to a hardworking and dedicated workforce. It is plain wrong. However the stupidity of the management decisions bothers me even more. Nursing morale is at an all-time low. With significant justification, many public-sector workers feel deeply un-valued by their employers and society at large. It takes something special to do difficult work with enthusiasm and dedication. This kind of nonsense from management only serves to further undermine the wellbeing of not just nursing staff but all staffing groups. I can assure GOSH's managment that a rise in staff turnover which is not remotely unlikely will cost a lot more than £80,000.


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