New digital platform launched for NHS workers in England
Health and care staff will now be part of a national online health and care conversation, as a new national engagement platform is launched by the Department of Health and Social Care.
Matt Hancock, the current Secretary of State for Health and Social Care of the UK, hopes the digital ‘TalkHealthandCare’ platform will encourage health and care workers to voice their workplace concerns.
3.1 million NHS staff in England can use the new digital platform to post ideas, questions and queries for government. The platform is available to all NHS staff, which can be accessed on computers, tablets and phones.
‘TalkHealthandCare’ will be updated continually to reflect the views and proposals of staff in a bid to improve job satisfaction, as NHS staff have reported not feeling valued in the workplace. Hancock says that NHS staff should feel “valued, supported and developed”. Hancock encourages participation by urging “an investment in you is an investment in the health and care system”.
This comes at a time of health austerity in the UK, with cuts in public spending and increasing staff dissatisfaction. The platform encourages suggestions regarding shift patterns, training and development, and the use of technology to limit paperwork, in a bid to hear what NHS staff “have to say about the jobs that are at the heart of this country” Hancock says.
The Secretary of State is keen to offer further protection to staff. With a high number of reports of bullying and harassment in the workplace. Hancock claims that these issues are not accepted and must not be put in a ‘difficult pile’.
Similarly, the platform hopes to gain information about violence against paramedics, after the Department of Health and Social Care announced earlier this year that body cameras would be issued to the workforce. This has hopes of making staff to feel safe at work.
The Department of Health and Social Care is launching a panel, sitting alongside the Secretary of State to discuss issues affecting health and care staff.
The platform is public so comments will be able to be seen and responded to. Ministers and staff from the Department of Health and social Care will be able to get involved too.
In its first month, the platform had over 500 people sign up to take part in the online conversation. The Department of Health and Care have acknowledged they still have a long way to go in terms of engagement and reaching all health and social care staff. But, they hope that TalkHealthandCare will be the beginning of a new era for the NHS, offering open consultation and discussion.
This is perhaps over ambitious of the Department of Health and Care, during an age of austerity, where there have been severe cuts to the NHS and an uncertain future of the UK’s EEA national health and care professionals. Or, being more sceptical, it could be seen as a ‘cheap fix’ for complex problems caused by decades of underinvestment.
The platform can be accessed here. If you want to post something, you can choose to be anonymous, by choosing not to identify yourself in the sign-up process.