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Care worker wins standing ovation at Labour conference


A care worker received a standing ovation at the Labour Party conference this week as she made an impassioned plea for more time to care for her patients.

A clearly emotional Emma Clifford wore her uniform as she addressed the conference in Brighton. She told delegates: “I need more time to care.”

The care worker, from the party’s Cheltenham branch, said she was often unable to help her patients go to the toilet, because she had to rush to her next appointment.

“It’s a horrible decision to have to make but I have to make it every day,” she said. “Unless our workforce grows – with our ageing population – it will happen more often.”

Ms Clifford’s warning came during a health debate in which delegates backed plans by shadow health secretary Andy Burnham to integrate health and social care, if Labour won the next election in 2015.

In his speech to the conference, Mr Burnham was scathing about what he described as the “malnourished, minimum-wage social care system”, where there was “barely time to make a cup of tea let alone exchange a meaningful word”.

He pledged that Labour would end zero-hour contracts for care workers, saying: “How can anyone who doesn’t have the security of knowing what they will earn one week to the next, pass on a sense of security to those they care for.”

Mr Burnham also told the conference Labour was “committed to safe [NHS] staffing levels, based on expert advice”. He accused the government of ignoring “report after report” recommending them.

However, speaking to Nursing Times after his speech, Mr Burnham did not commit to making a minimum staffing level law, saying only that he “would not rule it out”.

“We want an enforceable safe staffing level,” he told Nursing Times.

He also criticised ministers for failing to act on a Francis report recommendation that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence should be tasked with developing guidance of safe staffing levels.

Nursing Times revealed in August that NICE was yet to be formally asked to draw up evidence-based tools for establishing minimum safe staffing levels, six months after it was recommended by the public inquiry report in the care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

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Readers' comments (8)

  • michael stone

    'Care Workers' as opposed to nurses, seem more likely to post on the Dignity In Care website ( than on this one.

    But they have the same concern about not being able to care properly because they are being asked to do too much in too little time, as many nurses express here.

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  • A tool for measuring safe staffing levels in all areas of the nation's hospitals is urgently needed.

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  • Anonymous when I worked in Nursing homes 13 or so years ago there was a tool for staffing levels it was called a staffing matrix which showed a ratio of staff to patients. Problem was it was almost impossible to meet the ratios which led to under staffing. Solution get rid of the matrix and let the homes set their own ratios. Or that's what I was told happened just after I left and returned to the NHS.

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  • Yes we are an ageing population we have been for a while. Common sense tells us we will need more care workers of all kinds to cater for us all.
    We do not need less hospital beds and less hospitals we need the right amount, so we don't have the shoddy service we have now. Where you can't get yourself to the toilet or a quick drink, let alone our patients.

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  • Anonymous | 29-Sep-2013 3:27 pm

    it all seems so obvious and simple and many witness all of these needs daily.

    everybody has to accept that we live in a constantly and sometimes very rapidly changing society and have to adapt accordingly (which homo sapiens and other animals are normally quite good at otherwise and on which our and their survival depends). However the problem seems to be in trying to get the policies and funding in place to match but our deadliest predators at the moment may be the government!

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  • Anonymous
    what the government fails to understand that us nurses train so long. yet closing hospitals has made the growing population suffer. it will also to get worse with the amount of people entering united kingdom . where are going to go? they need to sort out the health service properly, cut, cut that is what conversative does as the rich are able to get private care because they can! that is not what bevan wanted

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  • that is not what bevan wanted

    But Bevan was not what the Tories wanted...

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  • if we still did what bevan wanted we might also hold that the same applies to Florence Nightingale and remain stuck in the 1940s or a much earlier era!

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