219 Kensington High Street,
15 October 2018
Statement to Matt Hancock:
The Independent Health Professionals Association notes with dismay the derogatory divisive and ill-informed comments of Health Secretary Matt Hancock in targeting its members as covered in the Health Service Journal.
If Hancock wishes to understand the reliance on locum staff he need look no further than his own department’s failures to adequately fund the service and the colossal underpayment of substantive staff drastically below what supply and demand forces would dictate. To put it succinctly healthworkers on the ground are under no doubt that the reason they feel demoralised is the failures of Matt Hancock ‘s predecessors and view plugging rota gaps as a vital safeguard against these problems and unfortunately Matt Hancock is showing every sign that he wishes to follow in their footsteps.
On behalf of the three thousand members of our Trade Association I am dismayed that the evidenceless smear that Hancock is attempting to place on the professionalism of our independent healthworker colleagues in claiming that they have less responsibility – they categorically do not have any less responsibility, they are as responsible as their substantive counterparts and are held to the same standards. I am confident that grassroots healthworkers will see through and reject Matt Hancock’s attempt to sew discontent in the workforce.
On the ground, far from resentment, substantive staff usually show gratitude for the assistance of locums in plugging the rota gaps that failures in recruitment and retention have caused, understanding that these doctors and nurses often leave their families, travelling hundred miles and taking flights, whilst putting themselves up in hotels and staff accommodation to fill rota gaps and protect patients. They also know what Matt Hancock often fails to mention – that many are also substantive workers driven to give up what little free time they have as the inadequately slim salary he offers them for their NHS work.
The complains we hear are usually more along the lines that NHS Improvement’s dangerous experiment with market manipulation and price fixing/caps is worsening rota gaps, leaving wards short staffed, and the staff working in such dangerous environments terrified these systems failures will result in their making an error and becoming the next high profile scapegoat.
Whilst we are outraged at the derision with which Matt Hancock has lashed out at our members, we do hope that he can reflect upon this and start to recognise that, far from the problem, our staff are the lie support system keeping the NHS going whilst he sorts out his recruitment and retention problems. He needs to start by bringing how much he pays substantive staff into line with free market rates – something, which given his political inclinations, he really ought not to need to have explained to him.