"I owe my life to a clerical assistant"

(112 Posts)
user1472419718 Sat 08-Oct-16 05:02:43

I keep seeing Unison adverts on the internet recently, highlighting the work that people in the public services sector do.

They have titles such as "I owe my life to a clerical assistant" and go on to detail the individual contributions of different public sector workers. But whilst I agree that every role is essential, ultimately the clerical assistant who created the ambulance rota did not save this man's life, and I feel this undermines the actions of the paramedics, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.

Another example has the title "A cleaner helped teach my Chloe her times table". Again, whilst the cleaner is an essential public services worker at the school, this statement undermines the teacher and teaching assistant.

AIBU or am I just missing the point?

OP’s posts: |
botanically Sat 08-Oct-16 05:06:48

I think you're just missing the point, which is that organisations can't function effectively without all of the people we normally don't give credit to for the big stuff.

botanically Sat 08-Oct-16 05:07:40

I don't think they undermine anyone in other, more prominent roles - that's quite a pessimistic way of looking at it.

LondonSouth28 Sat 08-Oct-16 05:13:06

I think these are lovely advertisements - acknowledging those whose contribution is not often acknowledged. I agree the sentence headlines sometimes sound a bit odd, but when you stop and think about it, it's a good point.

OwlinaTree Sat 08-Oct-16 05:13:48

I agree with botanically, it's highlighting the whole team aspect. The teacher/doctor in each scenario couldn't achieve what they do without the whole team involvement.

RhodaBorrocks Sat 08-Oct-16 05:17:51

It's a way of valuing people at all levels. In the NHS there's a real culture of seeing staff at lower pay grades as inferior, or not really that bright. Where I work one of our domestics (cleaners) is a qualified lawyer who got made redundant late in life and no other firm wanted to take him on close to retirement. I'm 'only' senior admin but I have 2 undergraduate degrees and a masters. One of my contemporaries is a fully qualified nurse who chose office work because she's a single mum and can't do shifts.

When working at a lower pay grade, my team made the mistake of telling a manager we thought something wasn't a good idea. We were told, verbatim "You aren't paid to think."

This campaign is about getting people to realise that we need people to do jobs at all levels and that their contribution is valuable.

Hotbot Sat 08-Oct-16 05:26:25

Any infrastructure goes owes its wellbeing to the support teams that work it, particularly the NHS , where the secs sort out urgent appts etc,


FruitCider Sat 08-Oct-16 05:36:38

I saw a beautiful response to people questioning the importance of administrators in the NHS and putting nurses at the top of the hierarchy, stating we deserved a pay rise more than others.

I need healthcare assistants to look after my patients in my presence, care for them, monitor them, and tell me if anything changes.

I need domestics to clean wards and feed patients.

I need admin to scan in letters and keep records up to date.

I need porters to move patients, medical bags, patient records.

I need pharmacists to dispense medication for my patients.

I need doctors to diagnose my patients and prescribe medication.

I need lab technicians to interpret samples I need them etc etc.

The NHS is like one big jigsaw puzzle, we all only make up a tiny piece but together we can achieve great things.

Heathen4Hire Sat 08-Oct-16 05:42:25

Bottom line, if frontline services didn't have the cleaners, the admin, the support staff, they couldn't run public services. As in the NHS, cleaners on the Tube are seen as dumb because they are usually foreign-born, but the cleaners that support me to do my job are intelligent, often with a degree or masters. If we had a "one under", a bomb, an accident, someone vomiting on the platform, or a person unwell on the train, it's the support staff that assist me to do my job, cleaning up the bodily fluids, doing the incident paperwork, or assessing risk. They are vital.

Newtoday Sat 08-Oct-16 05:48:36

Reminds me of a wonderful story of a NASA tech working late one day in the early 60s. On his way home he saw a cleaner working very late cleaning the floors. He asked her why she was working so late without having to and she replied "I'm putting a man on the moon!"

Yes, all of these people matter and contribute.

Motherfuckers Sat 08-Oct-16 05:55:37

So glad no one agreed with the rather ignorant comments from the OP.

HopelesslydevotedtoGu Sat 08-Oct-16 05:56:39

I'm a doctor and I don't feel undermined by these adverts

We notice when clerical and cleaning staff do a poor job- missing patient notes, mistakes on rotas, dirty areas- but don't notice when they do a great job as things just seem to tick along, the ward is clean, the paperwork is where it should be, there are enough doctors on duty. I bet they don't get thanked very often. I think highlighting the important work they do is a good thing

HopelesslydevotedtoGu Sat 08-Oct-16 06:01:08

More directly..... a doctor colleague was once told over the phone by a junior nurse "the HCA thinks this patient needs urgent surgery" "the HCA?" "Yes, she is a surgeon in her home country". And she was right!

intheknickersoftime Sat 08-Oct-16 06:07:15

Hopelessly that is an amazing story and a testament to the invaluable contribution made by immigrant staff to the NHS. A healthcare assistant who happens to be a surgeon. That's just blown my mind whole.

ToffeeForEveryone Sat 08-Oct-16 06:13:31

You are missing the point.

iloveeverykindofcat Sat 08-Oct-16 06:16:42

The NHS there's a real culture of seeing staff at lower pay grades as inferior, or not really that bright.

Same in academia. I used to have a bit of it when I was young and knew everything, but I've trained myself out of it pretty well.

FruitCider Sat 08-Oct-16 06:19:09

Hopelessly yesterday I had a HCA running up to me shouting about sepsis, low BP, low temp, high pulse. University never told me about sepsis. I've heard of it, but didn't know what the signs were. He is a nurse back in India, I trust his judgement more than mine!

NapQueen Sat 08-Oct-16 06:26:30

I read somewhere that the President visited Nasa and he asked a domestic staff "what is it you do?" And the response? "I'm putting a man on the moon".

It's great that these campaigns highlight the cogs within the machines that get the glory.

NapQueen Sat 08-Oct-16 06:27:56

Newtoday oops missed your post!

MidniteScribbler Sat 08-Oct-16 06:54:32

I'm a teacher, and without the cleaners, the aides, the receptionist, the school nurse, the bus driver, the tuckshop ladies and all the other many people that make up a school community, then I can't do my job, or certainly couldn't do it as effectively.

If I had to spend my time cleaning the classroom every night, that would be less time I can spend on planning lessons, marking, talking to parents, and all the other parts of my job.

Everyone has a part to play.

greenfolder Sat 08-Oct-16 07:24:32

I think those adverts are bloody brilliant. If more people generally got a proper grip of the idea that all parts are essential to function as a whole and treated people accordingly the world would be a better place.

SoupDragon Sat 08-Oct-16 07:28:36

am I just missing the point?

Yes, and at the same time proving it. "Background" staff are under valued.

BalloonSlayer Sat 08-Oct-16 07:36:14

I remember being in hospital with my 6 month old DS, who was suffering from severe eczema. Although his life wasn't in any danger of course, it was an upsetting time and I spoke to anyone who spoke to me about his condition and what could be done about it. This being a children's ward, there weren't many white coats.

I had a lovely reassuring chat with a kind, friendly woman who told me that the wet wrap treatment he was going to have worked wonders, how I would be amazed at the difference in him when they took them off and that the hospital would be able to turn it around for me. It really cheered me up.

Later I saw her with her mop and bucket doing the floors! grin

She had clearly been there for years, had had lots of experience of children coming in and being treated and the difference it made. All her advice was spot on. And she took the time to try to make me feel better. I am very grateful to her and her kindness. That was 15 years ago and I still remember her! flowers

PikachuSayBoo Sat 08-Oct-16 07:37:05

I'm a HCP and clerical staff are great. They will Hunt down missing notes for me (along with loads of other stuff) which can make a huge difference to treatment.

I was told when I was a student that porters are one of the most vital role in the hospital. They make sure we have the right stock on the wards, the right drugs, they come running when we bleep them to take emergency samples to the lab or fetch blood for us.

bigfriendlygiant Sat 08-Oct-16 07:41:00

You are missing the point!

My mum was a medical secretary for over 20 years to the same consultant. She'd schedule his clinics, prioritise his caseload, organise his ward rounds, type his letters, etc etc etc... He always appreciated her, but never more when she was off work for 6 months being treated for cancer. The patients and other HCPs also noticed her absence. You wouldn't believe the retirement gifts and messages she got.

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