An Uber for the NHS? Union criticises Jeremy Hunt for gig economy app

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GMB, the union for public sector workers, says a new healthcare workforce app unveiled by Jeremy Hunt ‘will bring the gig economy to the NHS’.

At the Conservative Party Conference today, the health secretary announced plans to introduce an app-based work system to 12 NHS trusts.

Hunt said that nurses needed to work flexibly, do extra hours at short notice, get paid more quickly when they do and make their own choices on pension contributions. He announced that new flexible working arrangements will be offered to all NHS employees during this parliament.

“And we’ll start next year with 12 trusts piloting a new app-based flexible working offer to their staff,” he said.

However, GMB says the new gig-economy style app would be a waste of money for the NHS and called for the health secretary to give NHS staff a ‘desperately needed’ pay rise instead.

“As if NHS staff don’t have enough on their plate with real terms pay cuts, stress on the job and ever-increasing workloads – now Jeremy Hunt wants to force them into the gig economy as well,” says Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary for Public Services.

Public sector workers are already putting in £11 billion worth of unpaid overtime every year and many of its NHS members already take on bank work to make ends meet, according to the GMB. So the idea that there is some untapped reserve of labour in the NHS that can be unlocked with an app is ‘pure fantasy’ according to the union.

Azam says: “Having our overworked, underpaid NHS staff being told via an app they are not needed at the last minute is a terrible idea and the start of a slippery slope. You only have to look at this model in health and social care where zero hours contracts and 15 minute slots to look after the elderly have left the system on the brink of collapse.

“Instead of wasting money creating Uber for the NHS, why doesn’t the health secretary give all NHS staff the pay rise they desperately need?”

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