Nurses are less well looked after than wheelchairs, the Royal College of Nursing congress was told yesterday.
The annual congress in Liverpool discussed the possibility of “the introduction of an annual physical and psychological assessment for all [NHS] staff”.
Cambridgeshire RCN member Claire Topham-Brown, who proposed the issue for discussion, said stress was a rising concerns for nurses.
She said RCN members had reported they had been made ill by having no breaks, not enough staff and being expected to work late.
Ms Topham-Brown said: “One activist observed that we take better care of wheelchairs than we do of staff. Bizarre but true. We now risk asses everything monthly, weekly and sometimes daily. But when do we ever assess that vital, delicate and most valuable part of the machine – you and me.”
She asked delegates to consider the issue and how it might be implemented.
RCN Easter Region member Lucy Lee Schultz said: “I really feel this should be a resolution rather than a matter for discussion because nurses need to be looked after. [Employers] should have a duty of care to us as employees.”
But RCN Scotland member Douglas Lockhart warned an assessment could be used as a “stick to beat staff with”.
South West safety reps committee member Lesley Pallett raised concerns about the viability of annual assessments.
She said: “Are we seriously going to get employers to be paying for this. Where is the time, where is the money while they are telling us they are cutting back already. Who is going to provide the treatment, we all know occupational health services are chronically underfunded and understaffed.”
One of the main recommendations of the Boorman report into NHS health and wellbeing – commissioned by the government and published in November 2009 – said all trusts should “develop and implement strategies for actively improving the health and well-being of their workforce”.