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Hospitals charge staff ‘up to £90 a month’ just to come to work

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UNISON has highlighted the wide disparity between how much it costs NHS staff in different parts of England to drive to work.

Research by the UNISON union found there was a wide variety in what health workers had to pay to take their car to work and NHS Staff are being up to £90 a month just to park at their workplace.

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The union used freedom of information act request to survey 199 NHS trusts revealing which forced their workers to pay and which allowed them to leave their cars for free.

UNISON revealed the most expensive was the Royal Free NHS Trust in London, where it costs full-time staff £85.38 a month to park, with those working for the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust, have to spend £79.50 a month.

Most NHS trusts operate a flat-rate payment system regardless of a staff member’s income, but some offered discounted parking for those on lower wages, while others did not charge their employees to park at all.

UNISON’s head of health Christina McAnea said: “Health staff are struggling to get by on a pay rise well below the cost of living and these extortionate fees are an extra tax on their wages”.

“Many NHS staff work shifts so they have to drive because they can’t get buses or trains in the middle of the night. Health workers in rural areas, where public transport is virtually non-existent, are entirely dependent on their cars to get to work.

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“Others have to fork out for expensive permits with no guarantee of a space when they get to work”.

Ongoing pay restraint is hitting healthcare professionals hard and UNISON compared this extra charge to a “work-tax”.

A student nurse in Nottingham, meanwhile, said: “I may not be able to continue with my studies. I already spend £60 a week in petrol to get to the hospital, plus £9 A day for parking.”

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NHS staff top list of those applying for payday loans

Nursing unions say years of cuts to NHS funding and pay restraint for NHS workers is to blame.

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NHS staff are among those most likely to rely on payday loans, suggests a study.

The payday loans study, which was commissioned by short-term credit broker CashLady, found that NHS staff were significantly more likely to apply for payday loans than workers at any other organisation.

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After NHS workers, supermarket workers at Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s, followed by staff at McDonald’s, Morrisons, Royal Mail and finally the British Army.

StepChange, the debt charity, says that the loans, which charge interest of up to 1,325% per year, are not a debt solution and can make your financial situation worse – the charity advises the majority of people to avoid using such services.

Nursing unions say years of cuts to NHS funding and pay restraint for NHS workers is to blame.

Gerry O’Dywer, Employment Relations Advisor at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These figures reveal the financial pressure nursing staff are under. Years of pay cuts left them struggling to make ends meet.

“The health service cannot keep losing valuable highly-trained staff because they can’t afford to pay the bills each month. The proposed NHS Pay Deal would give NHS staff the largest pay rise in ten years – it will go some way in helping nursing staff and preventing nurses from leaving the profession.

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“The RCN’s own Lamplight Support Service also provides tailored financial advice and support for nursing staff.”

Sara Gorton, Unisons Head of Health, said; “No-one should be so desperate for money that they have no option but to go cap in hand to unscrupulous lenders, who offer quick and easy money at sky-high rates of interest that can take a lifetime to pay back.

“It’s a terrible state of affairs that NHS workers are so strapped for cash they don’t have enough money to get through the month, and have to go deep into debt trying. It shows how much harm years of government pay restraint has caused.”

NHS employers suffering with debt can contact their union or a national debt charity for advice and assistance.

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Mobile Stroke Unit will see patients receive life-saving care faster than ever

This the first time a Mobile Stroke Unit, a concept developed by the University of the Saarland in Germany, has been tested in the UK.

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Southend University Hospital is undertaking the trial of a Mobile Stroke Unit which will see patients receive life-saving care faster than ever.

The Mobile Stroke Unit, which has an onboard CT scanner and blood-testing equipment, will be staffed by stroke and imaging experts who can diagnose and start treating patients with suspected stroke at the scene.

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This the first time a Mobile Stroke Unit, a concept developed by the University of the Saarland in Germany, has been tested in the UK.

Lead Stroke Consultant at Southend, Dr Paul Guyler explains its importance: “It’s widely known that ‘time is brain’ when it comes to stroke.  When a patient is suspected to have had a stroke a CT scan is essential to allow specialists to determine whether the patient has a blood clot in the brain, a bleed in the brain or something else. 

“The scan determines the diagnosis and what treatment happens next, and the Mobile Stroke Unit brings the scanner and the clinicians to the patient.”

Should a stroke be diagnosed, life-saving clot-busting medications can be administered to the patient quicker than ever before.

The Trust was offered the opportunity, to test the specialist ambulance in the community for a short period of time.  This was made possible because of the of the strong links between Consultant Interventional Neuroradiologist Professor Iris Grunwald, who works at the Trust and also holds the post of Director of Neuroscience at Anglia Ruskin University School of Medicine, and her colleagues at the University of the Saarland, Germany who are supplying the vehicle free of charge.

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The unit will be based at Southend to ensure safety and governance standards are met and Professor Grunwald has been working with the Trust’s stroke team to put plans into place.  Anglia Ruskin University and the team will be evaluating the information collected during the project. 

Professor Grunwald said: “We know that Mobile Stroke Units work in a densely populated city through trials carried out in Germany, Norway, Australia and the USA.

“The data and learning we gather during the period the vehicle is in use will be valuable in understanding the benefits and challenges of using a Mobile Stroke Unit in a more suburban or rural area, like we have across mid and south Essex.”

While the project is limited to a three-month period, the stroke team are looking to the future and hope that the information they gather over the 12 weeks will help inform plans to develop stroke services across mid and south Essex.

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UNISON accepts 3% pay deal for Scotland

UNISON Scotland has accepted a 3% pay rise for NHS staff and demands for it to be implemented ‘without delay’.

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UNISON Scotland has accepted a 3% pay rise for NHS staff and demands for it to be implemented ‘without delay’.

During the union’s annual health conference in Brighton today, the union has said it will accept a pay deal which would secure an above-inflation 3% wage rise for the all NHS workers in Scotland and has called for it to be implemented with immediate effect.

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Two weeks ago the Scottish Government tabled a ‘draft pay remit’ which proposes NHS staff earning less than £80,000 will receive 3% increase on pay and allowances.

UNISON Scotland has today announced that they will accept this proposed deal.

Tom Waterson, Chair of the UNISON Scotland Health Committee, said: “It was UNISON’s campaign in health, and across the public sector, which convinced the Scottish government to scrap the pay cap. It has tabled a pay remit paper that says all staff earning less than £80,000 are to receive an immediate 3% increase on pay and allowances, while talks craft a Scottish version of the NHS offer currently being consulted on in England.

“UNISON Scotland accepts the offer of 3% and demands that it‘s implemented without further delay. This agreement is an important first step to securing a Scottish deal for Scottish NHS workers, and we’re determined that it will deliver for our staff and roll back the pain of austerity.

“There appears to be a view that the 2018 pay award should be held off until the NHS pay offer is concluded in England. That is not acceptable. Shona Robison, cabinet secretary for health has committed to giving NHS workers a pay rise, the government has promised 3% and UNISON won’t allow anyone to delay the implementation of that rise.”

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The pay remit is expected to be discussed over the next few days by Scotland’s health unions. If agreed it would secure a “no detriment” deal, ensuring that Scottish NHS workers would not be worse off than their English colleagues, who are currently being balloted on a pay offer in England.

UNISON says it won’t be balloting NHS Scotland members on the England offer, but has committed to do so on the final outcome of Scottish negotiations.

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