Sandwell and West Birminghamhospital have had volunteers working on their wards, unpaid, for eight weeks. They have been doing duties usually done by Healthcare assistants/auxiliary nurses including washing, dressing and feeding patients as well as generally assisting with patients overall comfort. The trust said it has been so successful they intend to extend the scheme further.
Although union representatives initially agreed saying it would allow unemployed people to gain experience in a hospital environment, they are growing increasingly concerned that these volunteers are playing a direct role in patient care.
The hospital trust has said the volunteers are not playing ‘nursing roles’ but simply ‘supporting patients in their hospital stay.’
Washing and feeding patients are important aspects of patients care and require people with the right experience and training to do so. With just two weeks of training and no mentor scheme in place it is impossible that these volunteers would know what to do in all situations, putting themselves and the patient at risk.
It is just another loop hole allowing the government to have more people working in the NHS while paying fewer. If there is a need for these volunteers then surely they should be advertised as Healthcare assistant jobs that people are properly trained in and paid a living wage for.
Ravi Subramanian, head of Unison, West Midlands said:
“Thousands of staff are facing the prospect of losing their jobs and wards are closing. Now the hospital is making moves to deliver healthcare on the cheap, by using people on work experience to help with patient care. Patients and staff will rightly be very worried about the standard of patient care as this scheme is rolled out.”
This is just one of the many cuts we are going to see in our NHS over the coming year. We need to organise and fight back.
On the 21st of June this event https://www.facebook.com/events/324360444299594/ is taking place in Leeds to discuss what we can do to resist privatisation.