July 24th, 2013

Unison’s Role in the NHS Crisis

Another day and another report suggesting that staffing shortages are killing people in NHS hospitals. Today it’s the Health Select Committee, where last week it was Sir Bruce Keogh who said:

“Statistical analysis performed showed a high correlation between in-patient to staff ratio and a high hospital standardised mortality rates score. When the review teams visited the hospitals, they found frequent examples of inadequate numbers of nursing staff in some ward areas.”

Guido has been crunching the numbers at the 14 hospitals that were investigated by Keogh and he’s found an obvious staffing loophole that would free up more front-line workers: scrapping the Pilgrims. Many of the hospitals or trusts are too incompetent to store data on the amount of time they pay their staff not to do their jobs, but instead act as full-time trade union officials through the controversial and absurd “Facilities Time” system. Nurses, like Jane Pilgrim, are paid not to help heal the sick and needy but spend their time politically agitating instead. All of Guido’s previous work on Pilgrims, and the case against them, can be read here.

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has three full time Pilgrims, costing £61,000 per year.  Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has 2.45 “full time equivalents” at the cost of £100,000, while Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals have one and half as do the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust. Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust are spending £14,000, while Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, £17,000. Guido presumes that hospitals that do not hold the data have a similar level of trade union activity blocking front-line care. There are not enough nurses, so why is the NHS subsidising Unison members to take part in political activity rather than doing their jobs? The trade union is complicit in this crisis.


  1. 1

    The Trade Union Mafia is like a cancer spreading through the Labour Party, the NHS and where next?


  2. 3
    Pollytwaddle says:

    Cut them out. Completely. Everywhere.


  3. 4
    Idon'tneednodoctor says:

    There is no NHS discouragement
    The union’s first intent to be a Pilgrim


  4. 5
    Pilgrims out says:

    Those of us who pay for the NHS expect management
    to be able to account for every penny spent.
    We have a right to know if our money is going on
    full time union workers rather than nurses.


    • 13
      Clown Shoes says:

      Actually, I expect management to piss money away on PFI schemes, fat bonuses for themselves and expensive lawyers and PR types to cover up their mistakes rather than nurses.

      Getting rid of the Pilgrims is just a drop in the ocean.


      • 20
        Actually says:

        Indeed, in comparison to much greater waste, the Pilgrims are chicken feed.

        They look increasingly like an attempted distraction, rather than a major issue. The huge level of waste and overstaffing should be targeted first.
        The entire Pilgrim issue could be dealt with in an afternoon, is there were the political will.


        • 82
          Anonymous says:

          What overstaffing in the NHS are you referring to ? it certainly isnt Nursing staff, i have just done 7 1/2 hours caring for 20 elderly patients all but 4 of them have dementia,and are incontinent. 2 staff nurses and 2 HCA`s you havent even got time to talk to people for 5 minutes.


      • 34
        Anonymous says:

        The source of the issue is that each group of people have been able to write their own job descriptions. Their job could be union work.

        As long as they have done their jobs, as self-prescribed, they leave work happy. At no time is it allowed that the external factors (patients etc.) should interfere with their ability to execute the tasks assigned.

        For example, the making of a monthly report should take about a day. Yet they add to the task every eventuality possible: Holiday, Sick leave, fire alarms, interruptions etc. They then come up with the maximum time it will take. They then assign that time as the actual time for the job. Therefore as long as it is not slower than that, they are working at full capacity. The actual time was set at 2 weeks so the data has to be provided to them 2 weeks before the deadline.

        That is what actually happened, and to this day the group believe they are working normally.

        This is a public sector wide failure in the UK. There is no strong management.


        • 83
          Anonymous says:

          What do you call “union work”at the Hospital where i work, we pay for the staff car park monthly, But if you are on duty any time after 8 30 am you will not get a staff parking space so you have to pay another £2 per day.Unison wont do anything about it at all, so are they needed as pilgrims we ask ourselves!


        • 92
          Febrifuge says:

          Just as in out former car industry, the unions and gutless government don’t allow strong management!


    • 37
      lojolondon says:

      Yes, but then the pilgrims will have to work for a living. What about their uman rites?


  5. 6
    Idon'tneednodoctor says:

    Does the BBC have a file of union agitators that they can call on whenever there is any news involving the tories?


  6. 7

    “Nurses, like Jane Pilgrim, are paid not to help heal the sick and needy but spend their time politically agitating instead”

    Politically agitating for, err, more nurses: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21310735

    or, for more detail:

    https://www.unison.org.uk/upload/sharepoint/Research%20Material/Care%20in%20the%20Balance.pdf (pdf Unison report “Care in the Balance”)

    You are complaining about a total of, err, 10 at most full time equivalent staff. Meanwhile 6,000 positions have been cut since 2010 and 9,283-20,000+ positions are unfilled due to budget constraints (http://skwalker1964.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/massive-hidden-gulf-in-nhs-nurse-numbers/)

    Hmmm. I wonder who is really the person being unnecessarily employed agitating politically here?


  7. 8
    bergen says:

    I’ve no problem with people joining a union….but don’t expect the rest of us to pay their subs for them. Why is this still happening ?


  8. 9
    Sandra in Accounts says:

    Unison must be taken on.

    If only we had a Conservative leader with any balls.


    • 17
      Living in 97.223% white Merseyside says:

      We haven’t had a Conservative leader with balls since World War II.


      • 25
        Actually says:

        I’m pretty certain that Maggie, for all her faults, kept a few pairs of balls in her handbag. For use when the ‘men’ around her were found wanting, naturally.


      • 85
        Anonymous says:

        Stop talking cobra`s David Cameron is doing a good job considering the mess your lot left, and 100% better than the 2 EDs and co could do.


      • 89
        The Critic says:

        and look how the electorate repaid him? -They voted in Labour.


  9. 11

    If a union official isn’t working on a case, then they should do their job, we shouldn’t have political officers who never do their assigned job.

    Like most people, I see it as a con from a bygone age


  10. 12
  11. 14
    Fiire up the Quattro says:

    Thought the government were going to do something about Pilgrims. Perhaps I misheard.


    • 28
      The Government says:

      We just span about it for a little bit, but never had any intention of doing a thing


  12. 18
    New Town Toff, Edinburgh says:

    The only reason trade unions are so “strong” in the public sector is because of a week management intent first on foremost on its own survival. Unison wouldn’t last a week if the health service was privatised.


    • 19
      New Town Toff, Edinburgh says:

      Oops! Of course, should be “weak management”


      • 36
        Anonymous says:

        Scared management. Don’t rock the boat someone will see us management.

        Those that could cover up deaths are those that should be out first.

        You know who I mean. 2015 is getting closer.


    • 68
      Penfold says:

      Political management, they’re all lefties and share the same cause, which is to drain the taxpayers and enrich their own pockets.


  13. 22
    Diane Fartbot says:

    Terrible news sistas, they’re putting Jane Austen on the tenners from 2017. Okay she might be female but black, lesbian? I don’t think so. Why couldn’t it have been that Mary Secombe who everyone knows?


  14. 24
    Anonymous says:

    The only thing the jobsworth in the NHS, BBC, ETC. are good at is repeating that these parasitic organisations are NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS loved by everyone. The reality is nothing could be so far removed from the truth.


    • 41
      nellnewman says:

      Anyone who has had to use the Paediatric Service at Peterborough NHS regularly for the last 10 years knows , despite the swishy buildings, that it is a failing service and best avoided if at all possible.


      • 52
        Living in 97.223% white Merseyside says:

        I bet even the Eastern Europeans are complaining.


        • 60
          Fake Weight says:


        • 90
          Peterbororugh Lad says:

          Forget the immigrants. Us locals are wondering why our beloved councillors and health officials wanted to knock down two perfectly usable hospitals, ignored warnings that their PFI scheme was unworkable and left the citizens of this city with a smaller(but much prettier) building which will cost us 1.1 billion pounds to rent.

          No-one was responsible apparently.


    • 42
      The BBC are cunts says:

      We are a National Treasure. Call us ‘Auntie’ or ‘The Beeb’ and pay us cartloads of Taxpayers’ money. :)


    • 45
      Anonymous says:

      “No one has ever complained before about that.”

      Rules for making a complaint:
      1. Must be on a small blue postage stamp supplied by the complaint department.
      2. To acquire a card a *valid complaint must have made to local staff.
      3. No other forms or letters qualify as a complaint.

      *The local staff reserve the sole right to determine what is valid.

      “There have never been any complaints. Our management is perfect”


  15. 39
    John Bunions. says:

    The NHS needs to be neutralised and purged of all politically motivated morons who do not know their arse from their elbow.


  16. 40
    Sit Petra says:

    I expect you can get treatment for impotence on the NHS, so given all these Pilgrims which were highlighted months ago on this blog, why hasn’t dozy Dave and Co done something about it?.


  17. 43
  18. 44
    Axe The Telly Tax & Religion & Kill All Ecoloons says:

    We’ll skive night and day to be a pig grim.


  19. 48
    Dweeb says:

    Leave Ms Pilgrim as a full-timer, says I. Seriously, would you want her in charge of your medication?


  20. 51
    Jimmy says:

    So that’s why there aren’t enough nurses? I hope you’re not expecting Crosby to pay you for this.


  21. 57
    Kanzelor Merkel says:


    Have you ordered those windmills and trains from Germany yet? What about the police and border security security systems?


  22. 59
    Dave the Failure says:

    Hello. I’m Dave. I’ve been in “power” 3+ years and I’ve done fuck all to solve this public sector nonsense.

    But I have introduced Gay Marriage.

    Never forget, if you want the Country ruined, vote LibLabConn.


  23. 67
    Penfold says:

    It’s so much the Pilgrim’s.

    The NHS in its entirety has been politicised, particularly the management scales.
    These people are actually using the care of sick people as a political potato, by deliberately under-resourcing front line services. Add to that, the lack of ethics and the fundamental failure to teach basic nursing standards to nursing staff means that no-one gives a fig for the sick.

    The NHS is broken and needs reform, as Julie Bailey of North Staffs has exposed.
    Staff need to be apolitical, unions taken out, and old style standards and vocation brought back, with professional nursing staff placed in control of managing and running hospitals.
    Blair’s targeting system needs to be expunged, whilst bringing in proper financial disciplines.


  24. 70
    Lord Fibbit says:

    Unison’s role in the demise of the NHS is a mere pinprick compared with what Glaxo Smith Kline have been up to.

    Why hasn’t Cameron spoken up and put a block on all Glaxo/NHS contracts and links?


    • 71
      Long John Silver's parrot says:

      As I understand it senior figures in GSK ,one of the top performers on the London Stock Exchange, have been caught paying illegal bribes to Chinamen in China.

      If they do this in China what pray have they been up to in this country?

      With the NHS, according to the Tories, having murdered 13,000 Uk Citizens and no action taken it seems that the right thing to do is recall these MPs from their holidays to sort this little mess out prompto.


  25. 76
    Anonymous says:

    Funny, I thought that companies find it in their best interest to have paid union reps to keep managemengt from having to deal with every little greivance from individual workers. I am no great supporter of unions, but union convenors keep the wheels oiled between management and workers.


  26. 77
    Right Full Rudder says:

    Unison’s role goes deeper than that. More than any other organisation, Unison has been in a position to blow the whistle on trusts that are failing (and killing) patients. So where has it been doing that? Where is it standing up for patients? It isn’t, it’s more interested in keeping the NHS as it is in the interests of its members and its political viewpoint. How many of the fuckwitted managers and uncaring staff who caused these debacles are Unison members? How many of the seatwarmers (diversity managers, etc) who siphon off money that could be spent on better patient care Unison members? Blood on all their hands.


  27. 78
    robbie says:

    Guido – surely you know by now -its not the £money its the staff availability for emergency and specific specialties. But the MPs are right – primary care and social care should and could do far far more than they are doing now and no-one is really tackling the waste and inefficiency at all there- because we really can;t upset all those nice GPs can we?


    • 88
      AGP says:

      … can’t do that to us! No way Hozay! Oh and we also now demand double time for working at the weekends (when we should be out playing golf)


  28. 80
    Mrs Crewe says:

    Whilst I hate the money grubbing, corruption and hypocracy which is the modern Unions, they are not the main issue in the NHS. As an ex nurse who ran screaming from the crumbling hospitals several years ago disheartened and distraught I think the elephant in the room needs some air. The staff in many of the wards are lazy. They are ineffectual careless and in some cases cruel. There are too many who believe their own press of being ministering angels. They are not, they are doing a job for which they are very well paid.
    The management is chronically under qualified and mired in the worst practises of the public sector. Finally in my little rant the GP’s need to be taken to task. They have been holding the NHS to ransom since 1948 and no Govt has had the balls to deal with them.


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