UNISON Scotland has undertaken a survey of NHS porters to find out how current austerity measures in the National Health Service are impacting on our members and the services provided to patients.
Via a mixture of interviews and surveys (paper and online) we built up a profile of a workforce increasingly under strain.
As with other workforces, wages have failed to keep up with inflation and this is reflected in the experience of the workforce, who report falling living standards as a result. Some are in the position where they are able to work extra hours in order to make up a decent wage. Some reported working overtime to an extent they were almost doubling their contracted hours in order to make ends meet.
In contrast others find they are not being allowed to work overtime and are therefore feeling the financial pressure more. This is related to a perceived increase in shifts being filled by workers drawn from ‘the bank’. Whilst this is a long standing provision in the NHS, its fundamental purpose is cover for short term or unpredictable circumstances. Essentially porters on the bank are on zero hours contracts and the extension of this mode of working for any workforce is not one that can be welcomed.
The pressure on NHS porters goes further than simply financial. They report increasing workloads and poor morale.