STUC 2021: HCSA Scotland calls for action to protect NHS staff who raise safety concerns

HCSA Scotland has today led calls for greater action by the NHS and health boards to protect NHS staff who speak out on safety.

National officer Pauline Paxton warned that health workers “remain too afraid to speak up” for fear of punishment as she moved a motion on the issue at the annual Scottish Trades Union Congress.

HCSA is calling on NHS Scotland and health boards to back up their rhetoric with action in support of a culture encouraging openness and honesty and the pursuit of “learn not blame”.

She cited the recent example of a hospital cleaner who raised concerns over failings in infection control amid the pandemic.

“The manager’s response was to fetch pen and paper and dictate her letter of resignation.”

The HCSA Scotland national officer declared: “Employers must be reminded of their duty to protect workers from detriment when they raise concerns and we need to continue to promote and strengthen workers’ rights in this regard.”

Moving the composite motion at the 124th STUC Congress, held online due to the pandemic, the HCSA Scotland national officer also highlighted the gender and race pay gaps which continue within the medical profession.

“For our members, hospital doctors, those gaps are between 20 and 33 per cent and have a proportionally greater impact on BAME women,” she warned.

Fellow health unions joined HCSA to speak in support of the motion, warning of the impact of the Covid pandemic on NHS staff, who had seen “Loss and death on a scale never before seen in their working life.”

They also warned of the threat posed by long Covid, with Claire Craig of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy calling for a rehab recovery plan to care for those affected.