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What kind of employment-related support can UNISON offer me?

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Many employment-related situations are difficult to deal with alone, and union support is invaluable. These questions illustrate the sort of help UNISON can offer

Q I work on a surgical ward and last week I was given conflicting tasks by two members of nursing staff regarding the same patient. This isn’t the first time it has happened and I did previously speak to my manager, who said she would look into it, but nothing has changed. One nurse asked me to remove a catheter from a female post-operative patient but the second said that I wasn’t to do this - although it is a routine task that I have undertaken previously. What else can I do to rectify this as it’s upsetting me?

A There may be occasions when nurses have different views about a patient’s condition or the action. You did the right thing by speaking to your manager; there are two things which you could do relatively easily. First you could speak to both nurses to explain to them that they gave you conflicting information which isn’t in the best interests of the patients. If you do not feel able to do this in person and you do not believe that your manager has acted on your previous concern, then you could also put your concerns down on paper explaining what the circumstances were and the difficulties that you experienced. If you worried about this you could ask your UNISON representative for some assistance. Finally, you could also raise this as an issue with your development review. You shouldn’t feel afraid to ask
or raise concerns.

Q My off duty was changed last week without any discussion. Can they do this?

A There may be occasions when off duties need to be changed, however, once this is published it should only be changed with your consent. On occasions managers will ask someone to swap or alter their pattern of work, its fine for them to ask and if you can accommodate it I am sure people will agree to do so. However, there may be occasions when you are unable to alter your off duty and that should always be respected. If this is regularly occurring you may want to raise the matter in a staff or unit meeting to try to get to the bottom of why it is happening.

Q I have my appraisal coming up next week. Last year we agreed that I would go on a new course, however, that hasn’t happened yet and I am due another incremental point. Will this affect my salary? What advice would you give me in preparation for my appraisal?

A First it is your employer’s responsibility to provide training, especially training that is agreed as part of an appraisal, it cannot therefore affect your earnings. In terms of preparation there are a number of things which you might want to consider, the most important of which is to take time out to prepare. Look at your documentation from last year - what did you agree? What have you done? It’s also helpful to look at your job description - what else have you being doing that isn’t detailed? Use this information to make a list of information and then think about what you might be interested in doing, this might be learning something new to do with your practice. Remember appraisal is all about you, your role and your aspirations. You might also find it helpful to use the UNISON professional development portfolio as it has more detailed information about appraisal preparation.

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