SoR urges members to support International Workers’ Memorial Day

28 April will have greater resonance across the NHS this year

Published: 22 April 2021 Trade Union & IR

Many trusts and boards will have lost staff to the pandemic and all of the health professions will be remembering colleagues lost to Covid-19.

The Society is asking trusts and boards to support a minute’s silence at 12.00pm, and 11am in Northern Ireland with the Northern Ireland Committee Irish Congress of Trade Unions (NIC ICTU), preceded by the reading of staff names who have died in service during the past year. We are also encouraging SoR representatives (Reps) to attend the free online TUC IWMD event between 2pm and 3pm. There are additional opportunities to join regional events on the day which can be accessed through the TUC site, which also has materials Reps can use to promote IWMD.

The day is always a powerful opportunity to reflect upon health and safety challenges in workplaces. In the NHS this includes not just the prominent visible challenges highlighted in the pandemic such as the need for PPE, safe work spaces and recognition of the hazardous equipment many staff use. It also covers the less visible risks that can give rise to stress, burn-out and other mental illnesses. Excessive hours and excessive pressures were risks for many SoR members even before the added pressures from Covid-19. We want to use the space for reflection offered by IWMD to promote thinking around minimising these risks as well.

Dean Rogers, SoR Director of Industrial Strategy & Member Relations, told us: ‘Over the last month, our hugely successful Radiate event has already been promoting well-being at work. This has been a wonderfully popular and well received initiative with a great mix of practical sessions, celebration, and reflection, and strongly supporting IWMD fits in perfectly.

‘The well-being and mental health of members is a priority for the SoR and should be for employers. The keystone to recruiting and retaining radiographers is recognising and protecting from poor and dangerous working patterns and practices. Too many members are expected or cajoled into working excessive hours; extra shifts at short notice; to miss breaks and spend whole shifts doing patient facing tasks with no time for reflection; to put up with poorly ventilated and cramped conditions; to compromise on professional standards to meet patient demand and more. This has long been the case but the pandemic has highlighted these challenges even more clearly.

‘The good news is the pandemic has also amplified how important it is to challenge these risks and how professionals can go about protecting themselves. We have a fantastic, growing network of over 300 trained workplace health and safety representatives. The SoR can celebrate the success we have from ensuring appropriate PPE to making sure the return of partners to ante-natal scans only happens when it is safe. Every week we make more progress.

‘We have a long way to go to overcome the culture in many trusts and boards where the shortage of radiographers means staff, and ultimately patient care, are put at risk and this will be our key campaigning priority post-pandemic – as everything else hinges on and follows from reducing these pressures. We hope IWMD can be another opportunity for employers, Reps and members to join us.’