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"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?

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.

Oliversmumsarmy Sat 08-Oct-16 07:44:48

I missed the point too. Having spent most of this year helping dp going through cancer and dd in hospital as well it doesn't matter who cleans, who nurses, who does the admin ultimately unless a doctor starts to treat a patient then nothing gets done and as for HCA diagnosing, in our experience what the HCA said was wrong would have been the last thing tested for.

Riverganges Sat 08-Oct-16 07:51:54

Many years ago I was temping as a data entry clerk in the NHS, between jobs. This was just after I obtained my PhD. I was treated like I was quite thick and couldn't possibly understand the research by by the doctors and consultants - until one of one of them saw Dr Riverganges written on a letter on my desk. Their attitude changed so fast, it was funny. I was the same person as before, but now they knew I was Dr Somebody, I was somehow worthy of respect and a conversation.

Wellhellothere1 Sat 08-Oct-16 07:53:44

I think these adverts are brilliant. My own personal experience as a hospital pharmacist is we regularly correct prescribing errors on admission, during the hospital stay and on discharge home. Most of these errors are minor but a fair amount could potentially be pretty major. Most patients and the public don't really know what we do. Hospital pharmacists are never in Casualty! smile

TheSparrowhawk Sat 08-Oct-16 07:54:14

One large organisation I work with is restructuring and getting rid of admin staff in an attempt to cut costs. All that's happened is that instead of paying someone £22k to focus entirely on keeping things running smoothly, they're now paying their 'higher level' staff £32k + to juggle both their own jobs and all the admin. So both the higher level jobs and the admin are getting done badly, for essentially no cost saving. It's so boneheaded it would be funny if it weren't so awful. The idiots making these stupid decisions seem genuinely perplexed as to why things haven't improved. They seem to genuinely think that admin staff were entirely superfluous. How can supposedly intelligent people be so thick?

Spudlet Sat 08-Oct-16 07:58:50

I was a ward clerk. My job was to make sure the hcps had all the case notes for a patient, even if that meant going through 4 different storerooms and merging multiple sets of notes into one chronological file. I'm the one that answered the ward phone when relatives rang. I'm the one who made clinic appointments. I'm the one who answered the question 'what time is it?' when a confused patient with memory loss asked every five minutes for a whole day...

That didn't make me more important than the doctors or nurses. But I was part of the team too. I never really felt appreciated and yes, there was definitely an assumption in certain quarters that I must be a bit thick... a bit of acknowledgement would have been nice.

1Potato2 Sat 08-Oct-16 08:02:13

I think those who 'are missing the point' are the ones actually missing the point. Without clean wards, those sorting appointments and ordering medication and supplies, the medical staff couldn't treat the patients effectively. See the bigger picture. Oliversmumsarmy comment pissed me off no end.

ladylanky Sat 08-Oct-16 08:03:13

My sister got a YTS job in our local hospital at 17, nearly 30 years later she's still there in a clerical position. If you want help in that hospital, ask my sister - she might not be able to take your appendix out but she'll get you in front of a woman that can at the right time and make sure everyone had the information they need while holding your hand if you need it.
Your missing the point, the hospital wouldnt function without non-medical staff.

NotYoda Sat 08-Oct-16 08:08:14

No, you aren't missing the point. You explained the point in your OP - that all these people are part of a system and they are all important and should not be overlooked.

NotYoda Sat 08-Oct-16 08:11:27


"It doesn't matter who does the cleaning" etc

No, it doesn't matter who does it, but it matters that someone does. And does it well, and is valued and paid enough to do it well.

It seems obvious to me

fastdaytears Sat 08-Oct-16 08:11:28

I'm so pleased by the replies to this! I love this campaign and think it makes a great point. It's all about the team.

user1471521456 Sat 08-Oct-16 08:11:52

Oliversarmymum: it doesn't matter who cleans, who nurses, who does the admin ultimately unless a doctor starts to treat a patient then nothing gets done

So you haven't missed the point at all then! If you get rid of the cleaners, the nurses and the admin staff, the doctors will be doing all that as well and not have time to actually treat patients. confused

hiccupgirl Sat 08-Oct-16 08:11:53

I think these ads are fantastic. Everyone needs the whole team working together for public services to run effectively.

When I was a class teacher I couldn't have done my job properly without the wonderful office staff and the caretaker.

Lokisglowstickofdestiny Sat 08-Oct-16 08:13:25

In any organisation, whether public or private sector the "back office" are essential. It doesn't take anything away from front line employees but rather focuses on the point that without the clerical assistant, the paramedics would have to sort their own rota's out which would take them away from doing the job of attending emergencies, leading to a situation where people would die.

CheekyMcgee Sat 08-Oct-16 08:15:20

Yes oliversmum you have missed the point. Would you prefer your DP and DD to have been treated in a filthy ward with rubbish nurses, putting them at risk of mrsa?

NotYoda Sat 08-Oct-16 08:15:34

Anyone watched the BBC1 Ambulance programme? Staggering amount of team work. Inspiring and depressing at the same time

poppopp Sat 08-Oct-16 08:17:20

I think the ads are great, there is such a focus on frontline staff and while of course they are incredibly important, they can't do their job without those in the background supporting them. It's not about who is "more" important but rather making people aware that staff at all levels are important.

Birthdaypartyangstiness Sat 08-Oct-16 08:19:59

The point being made couldn't be more topical right now...with Jeremy Hunt's imposition of the 7 day contract on doctors there has been staggering ignorance of the fact that this will require ALL support staff to do 7 days too. Doctors don't and can't work alone.

NoahVale Sat 08-Oct-16 08:20:31

i wholeheartedly support those ads.
If it makes people think and Realise that the doctors/teachers and others could not do their jobs without admin support it must be a good thing.

Witchend Sat 08-Oct-16 08:21:03

I remember an assembly we got un junior school. It was about a man who went round a cathedral when it was being built.
He saw someone calving intricate flowers into the stone pillars. He said to him "what are you doing?"
"pillars" grunted the man without looking up.
So he approached the man who was working out a beautiful stained glass window. "What are you doing?"
"Windows," he said not pausing in what he was doing.
And the same was repeated round the cathedral.
The he went up to the man next to the woodcarvers. He was sweeping the sawdust and wood peelings from the floor.
"And what are you doing?"
The chap stopped what he was doing. Looked up and smiled proudly.
"Young man, I am helping to build a cathedral."

I understood that at aged 7or 8 yo, that the person who apparently was doing the least worthwhile Jo was still part of the big picture. I'm sure the OP did understand exactly the point.

FrancisCrawford Sat 08-Oct-16 08:21:24

I worked in an office with 800 staff.

There was one person who was essential - the guy who was employed to keep the toilets clean. Without him, the whole building would have shut.

EllieFredrickson Sat 08-Oct-16 08:21:52

I love these. There's a general view perpetuated (dare I say it by Tory politicians) that anyone in the 'back office' isn't needed. As others have said you try running a service without it...

ThumbWitchesAbroad Sat 08-Oct-16 08:22:55

Really pleased to read most of these responses!
Although, as an ex hospital lab scientist I do rather take issue with being called a technician. Most lab staff are fully qualified biomedical scientists these days, and many of the younger ones will have had to gain a degree to get a job in a lab. The older staff, yes some of them will have been grandparented across without a degree; but "technician" really doesn't do any of them justice. We weren't there just to push buttons but also to interpret results.

Themoreitsnowstiddlypom Sat 08-Oct-16 08:23:25

I do one of those clerical type jobs op, supporting someone working at the front end and the crap I have to deal with is unreal, people never take my word and trust what I'm saying always undermining me by going to the frontline staff asking the same questions and inspite of getting the same answer they got from me they accept it from them instead. They won't let me do the clerical bookings in for them they want to take others from the jobs they do to book them in stopping them from actually doing their real job etc.
When your on the front line People can see quite clearly the importance of your role, however those in supporting role can be easily undermined when people indirectly ask for the organ grinder and not the monkey.
It can be rude, demoralising, hurtful and can make it impossible to do your job when all you want to do its to do it well and free others up to do their job well too.
It may seem my post is a little dramatic but after 6 yrs doing my job in this role after being a police officer, people's attitudes to clerical staff etc have actually shocked me more than what I dealt with in the police.
So adverts like this will hopefully encourage a more respectful to supporting roles in all industries not just the nhs, it doesn't demean nurses, doctors etc it means there is a lot more that goes on behind the science that people realise and that the people that do the more anonymous back round jobs should be respected equally for the support they provide allowing doctors etc to do their jobs effectively.

NotYoda Sat 08-Oct-16 08:24:44



JeepersMcoy Sat 08-Oct-16 08:25:01

I work in public sector and am seeing back office staff being cut a lot with the idea that this saves front line staff. Really all it means is the front line staff spend half their time battling paperwork rather than doing the job they are trained for. It is infuriating!

NotYoda Sat 08-Oct-16 08:25:35


I used to work as a hospital Receptionist. Totally agree

NoahVale Sat 08-Oct-16 08:25:56

oh yes the Tory scathing comments about Back Office staff Absolutely got my goat.
Yes we will employ more nurses and doctors and Cut down on the Back office staff angry

Actually, it doesnt work like that. the doctors do not write their own letters, they do not book their own theatres or clinics.

NotYoda Sat 08-Oct-16 08:28:41


I agree
But let's face it - they do not know what they are talking about. They've never, most of them, taken "menial" roles, support roles, customer service roles, retail roles. They don't really know anything about being the Public Servants they purport to be

flumplet Sat 08-Oct-16 08:33:27

I think it's a really great campaign. It's very refreshing as it's rare for those of us who work our knackers off day in day out in very demanding 'behind the scenes' roles to receive any form of recognition for our contribution to the smooth running of public services. I don't think that recognising our efforts in any way detracts from the hard work of the front line staff.

DiegeticMuch Sat 08-Oct-16 08:33:29

I think that headteachers/teachers and doctors/nurses recognise the positive impact that lower-ranked staff have, but I don't think that "the public" necessarily does. Whether this campaign improves that, remains to be seen.

hippydippybaloney Sat 08-Oct-16 08:36:54

When I was at the start of my career and very junior, someone more senior than I was would take pleasure in trying to make me feel small to make her feel better about how incompetent she was.

Our boss, much more senior than either of us were, found out about it. His words have stuck with me ever since, 'hippy, we all just do different jobs. Mine isn't any more important than yours, it is just a different one, but part of the same ultimate goal.'

At the time, I just saw it as a lovely, kind thing to say, but also thought, yeah right, he is way more important than me, etc.

The more time went on the more I really understood what he meant and the more impact it had.

It's a story I've relayed several times when people have felt like they don't matter, or when they have had to deal with colleagues like the one who was awful to me all those years ago.

Elendon Sat 08-Oct-16 08:42:32

I love these adverts. The message is loud and clear without being shouty and confrontational.

I worked in a large multidisciplinary office and each year the CEO would give a speech. The speech always included high praise for the administration staff, as was rightly pointed out, the company would not exist without them.

Failing to see the point is beyond my comprehension.

Olympiathequeen Sat 08-Oct-16 08:43:51

Yes you're missing the point.

Unison is a union for all NHS staff as opposed to the nurses Union being for them alone.

Unison is pointing out that all the people in the NHS are human beings giving their best professional and personal care and deserve to be fairly represented and to take their money lol-

GoofyTheHero Sat 08-Oct-16 08:45:12

Oliversmumsarmy I'm a bit confused by your post. No it doesn't matter who cleans the wards etc. But it does matter that it's done, surely? In the same vein, it doesn't matter who the Dr is that diagnoses/treats your child, all that matters is that someone does. The Dr wouldn't be able to do that if it wasn't for the admin staff/cleaners/porters/technicians. I'm not sure how people can't understand that.

HKHKHR Sat 08-Oct-16 08:51:18

You are missing the point and at the same time proving that you don't value staff who aren't frontline. I am frontline and value all my colleagues work every shift.

Rainbowshine Sat 08-Oct-16 08:51:22

I manage a team of hospital porters and in my experience there's a lack of knowledge about what the role is. Public seem to think they just push wheelchairs and beds. They don't realise that the blood or platelets have to be collected, moved safely and promptly, and delivered all being tracked. Medical gases, pharmacy deliveries to wards, who do they think does that? We have a joke that the Porters are like the house elves in Harry Potter. The whole hospital would not function without them. This campaign, I hope, will make the public realise that behind the headlines of cutting back behind the scenes is a crisis waiting to happen. The support staff are vital to the hospital working. They don't just push beds...

Elendon Sat 08-Oct-16 08:52:15

Oh and it was one of the kitchen staff at my primary school who helped me comprehend times tables. She demonstrated to me how she counted out the puddings. The penny dropped, visual and well explained. Never forgot that and it helped my youngest child too.

morningtoncrescent62 Sat 08-Oct-16 08:55:44

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.

This. I love seeing the adverts, and it's brilliant to see a positive campaign from Unison when unions generally are perceived to be negative and carping.

amusedbush Sat 08-Oct-16 08:55:47

I think the adverts are great and, yes, it is nice as 'just' an admin assistant to see that the work you do facilitates the bigger stuff, the stuff that gets the recognition.

A different situation but I work in a busy university and when the admin is done badly, the academic side of things grinds to a halt. Yet when the Principal is thanking everyone for their contribution, he is only really thanking the academics for getting the research grants or pushing up scores in the REF. Not the admins who do the drudgery and manage the academics' time well to facilitate it 😒

MrsDeVere Sat 08-Oct-16 09:13:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mycatwantstokillme1 Sat 08-Oct-16 09:13:52

OP YABU & you and Oliversmummy are both missing the point - which is so blatantly obvious I can only think you're deliberately missing it!

yougetme Sat 08-Oct-16 09:22:18

This happened yesterday.
In a public service office of 350 we have no dedicated admin staff. We have a variety of people who have several jobs which encompass admin duties but they are busy people. So when I need to send a standard letter to a customer I have to compose the letter,print it out ,go and fetch it from the printer, put it into an envelope and then into an out tray . This takes me about 10 minutes .

But wait. The printer has broken and the next nearest has no toner so I ask the team leader to find the number of a working printer. She has to take time out from compiling mid year reports to check another floors printers. Then she reports the broken printers to the person who us nominally responsible for the printers. Oh and there are no envelopes either. So that's another person who had to be tracked down for that . It's so frustrating and took well over half an hour and several peoples time at a variety of pay scales so that one letter could be sent.

So what previously was a simple 1 second button push to the admin section became a costly exercise . And sadly this is a daily occurrence in our department.

Gallopingourmet Sat 08-Oct-16 09:31:20

We employ wonderful ward clearks amongst other things they answer the phone which never stops ringing, they answer the ward entry phone which also never stops and due to the security on our ward they also have to let every visitors out as well. When they're not there it becomes our responsibility and it's virtually a full time job. Sometimes I think I'd rather be one nurse down rather than a ward clerke. Good knows what they're paid but I'm sure it's not much.
Cleaners are also essential our ward employs two at a time, one prepares all the food and serves it, another helps prevents infections by keeping the place immaculately clean. They are another set of eyes on our ward, and receive basic training including safe guarding. They often mention things they've noticed going on. When our patients are very unwell they care as much as we do often asking after them, if patients get transferred out then return they are always pleased to see them. They too are paid the minimum wage.
We are all a team working for the good of the patients some staff may make a less obvious contribution to those who are not working in the NHS than others but without then our hospitals would just collapse even more so than they are already.
Now when it comes to our many managers I do sometimes struggle to see exactly what their contributions are and I know they aren't paid the minimum wage.

whattheseithakasmean Sat 08-Oct-16 09:38:32

I agree with the majority, I think the adverts are wonderful. When my daughter was bluelighted to hospital (some years ago now, thank goodness) I was as vulnerable as it is possible for a human being to be. Everyone we encountered during our stay in hospital was wonderful. Everyone. The consultant, junior doctors, nurses, auxiliaries, play leaders, cleaners and all the other roles I probably don't really understand. They saved my daughter's life, everyone of them. When you are holding on by your fingernails, the kindness and concern you receive makes a huge difference, regardless of what grade the staff member happens to be. I am so grateful to the wonderful people who work in our NHS, including the unsung heroes at the bottom.

NotYoda Sat 08-Oct-16 09:56:01


Yes, it's an eye-opener when you've worked in @professional2 and admin. roles in the same organisation. I think everyone should try it. You see how much status is valued above competence, mostly by the public.

Foslady Sat 08-Oct-16 09:59:08

Normally I get hacked off when an OP starts a thread and disappears. Not this time.
These adverts are very important- reminding you to open your eyes to see the full picture. I work in admin. This summer where I work has had a good reminder of why my role is important when I was the only one left out of three to do the role and all hell broke loose

50ShadesOfEarlGrey Sat 08-Oct-16 10:04:53
Go to this link and watch the film they are talking about. It is the most moving piece of film I have ever seen. I watched this in a small cinema, there were lots of fire fighters there, I was embarrassed about sobbing my way through this, I needn't have been, when the lights went up they were all sobbing too! The person this film is based on was at the screening and she got a standing ovation. At the end , when she just goes to the next call that is exactly what she did. They were so busy her supervisor couldn't let her off the phones for 15 minutes, then she had a cup of tea and went back to the phones.
Watch this and then tell me she didn't save their lives.

A good friend was a Head Teacher for many years, she always said the most important person in her school was the caretaker and she meant it.

roastednut Sat 08-Oct-16 10:10:03

Agree with all the comments (bar one of course) these adverts are great

Sillysausages44 Sat 08-Oct-16 10:10:14

I think these adverts are great. I am a solicitor, I am the one signing my name at the bottom of the letters and I am the one doing the 'fancy pants' legal work.

BUT without my truly awesome secretary, I wouldn't have the letters in front of me to sign, I wouldn't be able to find anything as she sorts out my filing, I wouldnt get to court to do the fancy pants legal work as i'd spend my day dealing with the always ringing phone, and (most importantly) I probably wouldn't function without the constant stream of coffee that she puts on my desk.

She is quite frankly the reason why I am able to do my job, but I would estimate that for all the clients that thank me (which don't get me wrong is much appreciated) only about 5% mention my secretary, even though they've probably spoken to her at least once a week, and often many times more, during the case.

TobleroneBoo Sat 08-Oct-16 10:11:55

I've worked in a job where the smug overpaid brokers thought the admin were so beneath them, but they couldn't have done our job and the processes wouldn't be complete without us

Also, don't most medical procedures / appointments / consultations start with a letter?

Sallystyle Sat 08-Oct-16 10:13:34

I love them.

I am a HCA and people do underestimate what we do. It has been me who has pointed out to a nurse that a patient has gone downhill and needs a doctor called out right away. People often see us as people who just clean up patients, but we are the eyes and ears and there has been many times I have flagged up potential problems because I have been there first and noticed something worrying.

The porters are worth their weight in gold, the receptionists, the cleaners and so on. We/they don't get as much recognition as they deserve from the general public.

We all work together and couldn't do the job without working as a team.

TaliDiNozzo Sat 08-Oct-16 10:17:54

The adverts are genius. I agree with (and am buoyed by) the overwhelming comments. The OP and oliversmumsarmy I suspect are deliberately missing the point of them which is sadly disappointing and really rather silly but it's lovely to see such wonderful comments and appreciation.

I work in the NHS in a non-medical role and I suspect I will be thinking about this thread for a while.

WorraLiberty Sat 08-Oct-16 10:45:47

I love these adverts.

For example, a lot of people look down on 'Bin Men'/Refuse collectors and street sweepers.

Yet they never stop to think that without them, we'd be overrun with rats and disease.

The ads are just a way of making people stop and think about how we all play a part in society.

MissHooliesCardigan Sat 08-Oct-16 10:47:52

I was a CPN for a long time in a team for young people with psychosis and our receptionist was a vital member of the team. A lot of our service users were extremely anxious when they came for an initial appt but she completely put them at ease - would make them a cup of tea and chat to them. She was brilliant at informal triaging - because she knew subtle signs that someone wasn't very well and would alert a clinical member of staff that they needed to be seen straight away. She was amazing at diffusing tricky situations and often service users who were really paranoid would trust her more than the doctors and nurses because she didn't have any 'power' over them.
Sadly, she died of cancer last year and a lot of the patients were really upset and over 200 of them (including many who were discharged years ago) came to her funeral. She made a huge difference.

Pisssssedofff Sat 08-Oct-16 10:50:13

I am old enough to remember what happened when the refuse collectors went on strike believe me that wasn't pretty

Obsidian77 Sat 08-Oct-16 11:08:05

I like these adverts because it highlights the crucial roles of so many people in keeping things running. I lived for several years in a developing country and can't overstate how well-run, as a whole, the NHS actually is.
A good friend was a clinical manager at a large city hospital in that country and the problems she had to deal with were unbelievable; dirty, cockroach-infested wards, frequent outbreaks of diseases such as klebsiella, rotas not drawn up correctly, millions of pounds worth of equipment awaiting repair, no power in the operating theatres due to generator failures (power cuts were common) which meant most surgeries were cancelled and surgeons had to do emergency surgery by the light of their mobile phones, fraud, corruption and mismanagement meaning that stocks of equipment and medicines often ran out etc etc
I think it's easy to take for granted how many people have to do so many things well for a massive complex system to work well.
I'll probably never even know who the people are that enable me to have access to world-class health facilities, so I won't be able to thank them personally, I'm glad these adverts offer some recognition.

ThumbWitchesAbroad Sat 08-Oct-16 11:08:40

I have to agree that a good receptionist is absolutely worth their weight in gold (and all the other admin and "back office"/background workers). I used to work in a clinic and we had a couple of receptionists who were not that great, resulting in lost clients - whereas most of our receptionists were just brilliant, so polite and doing their best always to help out not only the clients but also the clinic staff.

iloveeverykindofcat Sat 08-Oct-16 12:24:28

Totally amused. I've worked in university where the admin was haphazard, badly distributed, and the person sort-of-in-charge was difficult. I am currently working in one where we are lucky enough to have one dedicated administrator for our (small) department. She is brilliant. Everything works better. If she ever leaves I will cry.

JellyBelli Sat 08-Oct-16 12:38:25

These adverts are aimed at people who dont get it, and they still dont get it. If you are the kind of person who feels offended and devalued by these adverts, then you wont make a good team leader, surgeon or paramedic.
They need to get on with their job, confident that support staff have done theirs.
Staff that need constant strokes and reasurance about their status undermine their own effectiveness. Its a sign of immaturity and a lack of self confidence.

FruitCider Sat 08-Oct-16 13:32:38

it doesn't matter who cleans, who nurses, who does the admin ultimately unless a doctor starts to treat a patient then nothing gets done

It's not doctors who treat, they diagnose. In my role, there are only gp clinics twice a week! If I get a patient come under my care in between clinics it's up to me to decide what medication to give, under PGD. I can give paracetamol, diazepam, lofexidine, chlordiazepoxide, almost anything really. If I need methadone or buprenorphine writing up I email a doctor a copy of my consultation, they start an electronic prescription and send the paper copy to pharmacy. Healthcare is changing, nurses are more autonomous. But I could bet any money that I couldn't give out these meds confidently without the eyes and ears of my health care assistants! I just give meds really, they work much harder than me!

FruitCider Sat 08-Oct-16 13:34:24

Although, as an ex hospital lab scientist* I do rather take issue with being called a technician.*

Sorry for causing offence! Point noted.

ThumbWitchesAbroad Sat 08-Oct-16 13:57:48

No, no offence taken smile

FiveGoMadInDorset Sat 08-Oct-16 14:08:34

You and Oliversmummy are spectacularly missing the point, I worked as an NHS admin but I won't bore you with all the boring details of what I did that enabled our doctors to concentrate on seeing patients.

I will also be supporting my husband through cancer this year and will have admiration from the Dr at the top to his admin team in helping us through the next stage

Oliversmumsarmy Sun 09-Oct-16 01:06:33

Sorry to feel a little jaded with the healthcare system but given what we have been through this year and nearly ended with dp giving up he just didn't want to battle the system any more.

When an admin person tells dp who is stood in front of them that he is dead and no he can't get any more insulin or any other prescriptions as they have deleted his files and archived them as he is dead and so won't need any more prescriptions without a hint of irony or even just acknowledging what they are saying is complete rubbish am I supposed to think the admin department is working.

When your dp visits the dr to diagnose his symptoms 12 times + a week in hospital because he is so ill and weak he can hardly walk, (kept telling him it was because he had broken his leg) am I supposed to jump for joy that the doctors are doing their job.

When the pharmacy (prior to his reported death) don't fill the prescription but give out bags of stuff he hadn't ordered. It is more than annoying

So maybe if a few of you had been through what dp has been through you might just miss the point of the adverts.

What I was trying to say was it doesn't matter how clean the wards are if a qualified professional healthcare worker mistakes end stage bowel cancer for the symptoms of a previous broken leg it does not fill you with much confidence.

CanuckBC Sun 09-Oct-16 04:17:44

Oliversmumsarmy, (((hugs))) understandable that you are a bit off the medical system right know. That is probably the understatement of the day.

I hope your husband was able to get the care he needed and the pharmacy fixed there horrific error.

That must have been he'll olive through. I hope your family is healing now, both mentally and physically.

Re the subject at hand, if one cog in the wheel is broken things don't run smoothly. Be it with medical, legal or whatever the profession. If something is off everything else goes sideways.

I am from Canada, so haven't seen the ads but think the concept is a good one. It will go over some peoples heads and will make others think.

CanuckBC Sun 09-Oct-16 04:21:13

Argh! That one line should say " That must have been hell to live though. Damn autocorrect.

A couple of there's should be theirs. Sorry one my iPhone and typing quickly. Really should have previewed. ☺️

albertcampionscat Sun 09-Oct-16 04:24:06

Haven't rtft, but has anyone mentioned the story of the cleaner at NASA in the '60s who, when asked what their job was, said 'putting a man on the moon'? Yabvu.

Motherfuckers Sun 09-Oct-16 05:28:44

Yes, albert that story may have been briefly touched upon at least 3 times grin It is a great example though, sadly, probably lost on the OP and oliversmum though.

Maireadplastic Sun 09-Oct-16 17:40:30

I believe that there are bullshit jobs and non- bullshit jobs. Non-bullshit jobs are the ones where we'd be in a real mess if people didn't turn up to do the, bullshit jobs are ones when the world still turns if no one does them (for some reason I always think of those who work in advertising at this point in my theory).
Most of the jobs in these ads are non-bullshit jobs. Most of us have bullshit jobs (I say this as an opera singer, conductor and vocal coach.....)

BowieFan Sun 09-Oct-16 18:03:49

I think the ads are great. I can see why some people can't pick up on what they're saying but, to me at least, they're highlighting the fact that the NHS needs every one at every level. It's not undermining doctors or surgeons, but it's saying that a clerical assistant doing their job to the best standard allows medical staff to do the same.

albertcampionscat Sun 09-Oct-16 18:09:31

Sorry motherfuckers!

CordeliaFrost Sun 09-Oct-16 18:34:26

Great adverts, highlighting the importance of the 'whole machine', which with just one vital bit missing, won't operate as smoothly, or indeed at all.

My mom is a GP, and the senior partner of her practice. One thing she always makes clear to new staff (in particular any new GPs joining), is every member of staff is valued the same, regardless of what they do, because very role is vital.

Sara107 Sun 09-Oct-16 18:59:13

I haven't seen the ads, but I think it's great that the people in the background are acknowledged as well as the front line staff. We often hear, when government cuts are being implemented that front line numbers (police, nurses, ambulance etc) will be maintained, it is 'only' office staff being cut. But the reality is that the work that these people do will have to be picked up by somebody else. I work in a multinational company and functions such as HR and Procurement are continuously being cut back. So we spend an increasing amount of our time learning how to do things incidental to our actual jobs like ordering stuff - the work still has to be done but it is done inefficiently, by people who don't have a clue what they are doing, and are mainly on a much higher pay grade than the old purchasing clerks were. If you tie your doctors and police officers up with that sort of stuff, they are not doing the work that we would expect them to be doing.

QuackDuckQuack Sun 09-Oct-16 21:41:01

What really strikes me about this discussion is that we regularly hear 'we're going to cut 40% of admin in hospitals' or 'we'll find 5% efficiency savings each year for the next 4 years'. It sounds like a good idea not to cut front-line staff, but cutting office staff can only go on so far before before it has the same impact as cutting front-line staff because they have to take on the admin tasks themselves.

Eiram49 Sun 09-Oct-16 21:43:29

I agree with most; all have a role to
Play and all should feel valued - strangely, when reading through the posts, I noted a Mirriad of professions, all essential but not once did I see Social Workers acknowledged. We do a difficult job, in difficult circumstances and most often, the great work we do goes unrecognised .

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