Health minister praises UNISON listening campaign

Union wins praise from Welsh government minister for identifying concerns at Betsi Cadwaladr hospitals

Wales deputy health minister Vaughan Gething AM today welcomed the survey of health care workers undertaken by UNISON Cymru / Wales as part of its thorough review of what it is like to work for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. 

UNISON North Wales health branch proactively initiated a listening exercise to discover the extent of issues across the board’s hospitals in the wake of allegations of historic abuse and the imposition of special measures by the Welsh government.

The union presented its findings to the health board at a meeting on 21 January.

UNISON North Wales health branch secretary Jan Tomlinson said: “We’re pleased to have had the opportunity to brief the deputy minister for health on the issues our members have reported:

  • “low morale;
  • “frustration at being associated with poor service;
  • “a sense of powerlessness because managers did not consult or listen to them.

“We have presented the Board with our authoritative report and we hope this will initiate a new era at Betsi. The board must work with UNISON to find a solution to these long-standing problems.”

UNISON recommendations include an evaluation of current practices concerning sickness absence; leave; training for managers on how to trust staff and create open, respectful dialogue; an improved system of appraisal; consistent and fair application of company employment policies including the disciplinary and grievance procedure and protection for whistleblowers.

UNISON will repeat the extensive survey of members in six months to ensure that remedial measures implemented are working to improve conditions for patients and staff.

All UNISON health care members in the area were asked to complete a questionnaire about their working conditions. A thousand responses were received and 20 mass meetings were held across the Betsi hospitals.

 Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board employs around 16,000 staff and is responsible for the operation of three district general hospitals (Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan and Wrexham Maelor Hospital) as well as other acute and community hospitals and health centres.