Health is sick


Picture this. You don’t turn up for work on Monday. The boss assumes you’re sick and waits until Tuesday for you to reappear or contact him/her. No luck. Wednesday s/he’s hopping mad and phones you. “It’s OK – don’t worry” you tell him/her. “Things are a bit muddled at home right now so I won’t be coming in on one day or sometimes two days a week between now and Christmas. But there’s no problem – I’ll make up the days by working during my holiday time next Summer”.  How do you think your boss would react? Would s/he scream and shout, would s/he go berserk? Or just sack you?

The reason I paint this little vignette is that I was talking to a nurse this morning. In passing she mentioned that since April, she’s been paid £160 a month less than she should be. One month it was £174 and she sees no end in sight. Nobody came to her and asked if it’d be all right if she was short-changed in this way and reassured her it was OK, because she’d get the money in the end. It just happened. Why?

Because of management. Through the kind of mismanagement that would make an elephant in a tea-shop seem nimble-footed, the very basis of the working contract – I give you my labour, you in return pay me – has been set aside. Take it or leave it. And count yourself lucky you’ll get the withheld money sometime.

I don’t know who these faceless baboons are who’ve landed hard-working people like this nurse in this situation. But I do know that in these matters, the buck traditionally stops with the boss – the man or woman in charge. In this case it’s Edwin Poots. I heard Edwin on the radio yesterday, essentially blaming Sinn Féin for the mess that Health is now in. Listen, Edwin. Go back and sort out the outrageous and contemptuous way that workers in the NHS like my nurse have been treated, and then come and start talking about bigger matters. Don’t blame other people or other parties. You’re in charge of Health. You’re being well paid for it – and on time, I’d surmise. If you’re so ham-fisted you can’t organise the payment of people who do heroic work, then get out of the way and let someone with even minimal management skills undo the damage.

6 Responses to Health is sick

  1. neill August 28, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    Sorry how can you blame the minister for a nurse not getting paid the full amount she is owed she should go to the finance department or if she doesn’t want to do that why doesn’t she approach her trade union?

  2. Am Ghobsmacht August 28, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    I don’t know who to blame for their conditions but I don’t think they’re appreciated enough.

    When I last lived at home all I heard was Daily Mail-esque apocalyptic accounts of how terrible the NHS is.
    My most recent memories of being under their care when quite ill or when visiting very ill family and friends has made me realise how lucky we are (as well as spending a few months in the US. Yeesh!!!)

    I think while property prices are low the government should buy empty/repossessed homes and use them as NHS staff accommodation and insulate them against rent hikes and wot not.

    Just a daft notion but it’s something to help them.

    As for Poots….

  3. paddykool August 28, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    It’s a case of the buck stopping here. You can push back and push back but ultimately it all rests in the lap of the guy taking the biggest wage home, whether he is reponsible for the minutiae of his department is hardly relevant.Prime Ministers have fallen over small runaway details. Pluck the “Keeler Affair” out of the ether , for one. Maybe not such a small detail to a Daily Mail reader…but you get my drift . Harold MacMillan had to walk in the wake of a scandal which he had little idea about . Profumo, his Secretary of State, was certainly destroyed by it..Crying …”It’s nought to do wiv me, guv “…doesn’t cut it .A staff Nurse is responsible for everything that happens on her or his watch. A manager is the same .That’s what you get the enlarged wage for .You don’t get it only so that you can do less than the minions below you. That’s how you really earn it.
    This carry-on with messed -up wages began about a year ago with a new computer system’s introduction…shades again of the Ulster Bank debacle that messed up peoples’ lives on two occasions.. left households penniless, standing orders unpaid, penalties applied, or holidays thwarted..Someone in the lower ranks will initially be scapegoated for the ongoing error…some poor drone down the food chain , but if it hasn’t been sorted out after a year plus, now, someone is being negligent or is unable to do their job properly and Mr Poots is the man in the frame . What usually happens is someone is replaced. This nonsense that is being trailed out by DUP ministers that somehow the mechanics are all Sinn Fein’s fault or the Tooth Fairy’s fault is a mantra that they’ve been singing since they took up in government with Sinn Fein. It’s time to grow up and take responsibility for their own actions. There are many things that Sinn Fein can get wrong , but this isn’t one of them . Sinn Fein , for all their real and supposed failings are usually man enough to say when a mistake has been made…even if it is not their immediate faultThat gets respect. Like that silly business with the stupid band talking baloney, at the recent Fleadh. That’s what any reasonable person wants to see.Sauce for the goose and sauce for the gander and all that.A bit of fair-minded thinking that doesn’t sound like a playground game.
    As an afterthought , isn’t it strange how the taxman always gets it right? I mean ALWAYS. If you owe the bugger sixpence through some accounting mistake down the line, it’ll always be your fault and never their’s. You’ll cough up should it take the rest of your life to repay the government what it is due. The surety of death and taxes.. The poor mug at the edge of the trough hasn’t much of a chance, has he?

  4. Iolar August 28, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    During a news broadcast (27.8.14) an individual working in the NHS described the health service as a volcano waiting to erupt. He made reference to anticipated pressures on the service, cold weather and illnesses associated with winter months. Mr Poots dismissed the comments as an opinion of one individual. I would have thought it might have been appropriate to listen carefully to such comments and then undertake appropriate contingency planning.
    Errors in the calculation of a salary which are not controlled and corrected after five months indicate a system that does not value quality control or the professionalism and dedication of its staff. Such errors are also a statement about the quality of care delivered to a range of vulnerable individuals in the community.
    Managers on performance related pay ought to be paid on the basis of the provision of quality care in our hospitals and in the community. Based on current evidence, it would appear that it is the managers who should experience financial hardship, not the nurses or other healthcare professionals.
    Trade Unions have a critical role to play in the delivery of healthcare. We also need an independent complaints system for staff and the public with input from the general public.

  5. Norma wilson August 28, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

    I agree with you, the buck stops with Poots.
    Standards are no more, things just are not the same as the good old days. Teacher’s taught, nurses nursed, children had manners and respect for their elders. There was no nursing homes when I was a young girl, you
    looked after your grandparents, you did not stick them in a home.
    You did your work, and got paid for it, there was none of this zero and temporary contracts.
    I have now got to the point I watch the South African news, our politicians are totally boring.
    At last Jude we have agreed.

  6. John August 29, 2014 at 1:05 am #

    Excellent Blog Jude – and well worth a mention and highlighting. Do you remember that ‘direct’ message i sent you, regarding my health – multiple arthritic conditions, Fibromyalgia, Osteoporosis, a collapsing spine (and there’s more). I’m 49 today (well, thinking about it – it was a few hours ago now) – Can barely walk any distance compared to being able to walk or hike 20 no bother only a matter of years ago for example. I’ve got the bones of a person 65+ years old – All caused by a Consultant, who was probably earning over 150k per year – and who mis-medicated me during a Hospital stay (with a medication i’m still on, and will most likely remain on. His mistake wasn’t discovered until 4 years later – but the damage had been done, and will continue to do so.
    Last year, i had to spend 5 weeks in my local Hospital as the pain etc got too much. The Nurses – overworked and over-stretched were an absolute ray of sunshine, and did their utmost to get me back on my feet and somewhat better – I’ll never ever forget the care etc they gave me – and to others that i witnessed.

    Very good comments/responses by the way from: Am Ghobsmacht, paddykool, lolar – and Norma (Good to see you in good humour of late may i say).