1 Oct 2007

I'm sick. What's the big deal?

I was sat this morning with a pot of tea and the paper, waiting for 8am when I could ring the doctor’s. You have to ring for an appointment; you can’t just turn up any more. It’s funny how they call it an ‘appointment’, gives the impression of booking an exact time slot... Not so! You’re only ringing to see if It’s possible to actually see a doctor during surgery and that’s once you get past the automated “press one for appointments, press two for prescriptions” etc. If the surgery is ‘full’ and you ask to make an appointment for the following day you get a disgruntled huff from the receptionist and a sharp intake of breath as if you’re stupid. “Oh no, you have to ring tomorrow if you want an appointment for then!” Why is it when you get off the phone from speaking to a doctor’s receptionist, you are left with the feeling you have just been dealing with by Hauptsturmführer Elga of the Waffen-SS?
Any way, I slurped my tea and returned to the newspaper, interested by the headline… ‘First Glimpse of the big ideas’ (The Times). Apparently the Conservative party ‘would establish HealthWatch, a consumer voice for patients’. Great stuff but not a new idea, the difficulties people face trying to see their doctor was reported last month by the BBC"Outdated" GP services should be overhauled to extend opening hours and be more flexible, business leaders say. At that time the CBI reckoned businesses lose ‘38m working hours and £1bn a year’ because of employee difficulty with GP appointments. However this is just another headline in the long list reporting the latest ‘arguments’ about sickness levels and who’s fault it is any way. It all depends if your organisation represent employers or employees.
If you’re sick or injured in some way, you just want to get better again and, the last thing you should have to worry about is your job. The CBI have said; ‘Firms lose billions as staff take "unwarranted" long-weekends and "pull sickies" (CBI May 2004). This may be the case however, it’s only fairly recently that employers have started to realise that, shock horror, it may actually be the bosses fault that the worker is not in a rush to get back. Commenting on the CBI’s annual absence survey, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “The CBI wants us to think that public sector workers are too ready to throw a ‘sickie’ and take a few days off whenever they feel like it” (TUC May 2005). They bolstered their rhetoric on the subject again earlier in the year with; ‘UK bosses suspect that one in eight of all UK workplace absences are due to staff faking illness’ (BBC Apr 2007).
Three years ago in a report entitled, ‘Feeling Poorly? Prove it!’ (BBC Jul 2004), it was suggested that; bosses who suspect absent employees of skiving should employ teams of nurses to check just how ill they are. It was suggested this would ‘put an end to malingering staff throwing sickies’. However, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development highlighted growing levels of stress - suggesting that it may often be over-demanding firms and not malingering workers who are to blame for lost days. Stress? Blight on modern life! (BBC Radio 4's Stressed Out)… Time off work estimated to cost the country £13bn a year. Stress caused by work is the second biggest occupational health problem in the UK (after back problems). Many situations can lead to stress at work. These include:
  • Poor relationships with colleagues
  • An unsupportive boss
  • Lack of consultation and communication
  • Too much interference with your private, social or family life
  • Too much or too little to do
  • Too much pressure, with unrealistic deadlines
  • Work that's too difficult or not demanding enough
  • Lack of control over the way the work is done
  • Poor working conditions
  • Being in the wrong job
  • Feeling undervalued
  • Insecurity and the threat of unemployment

Most workers reckon that their bosses are excessively bureaucratic, apportion blame wrongly and are inconsistent in decision making, a Sirota Survey Intelligence report has found. "Unfortunately, they often find conditions that block high performance, such as excessive bureaucracy burying them in paperwork, and slowing decision making to a crawl. "Management has to help employees perform, which in many cases means getting out of the way." Any of this starting to sound familiar?

Apparently, the sight of the sea is the quickest and most effective way to reduce high stress levels for many people, a survey has found (BBC). Any way, must get off to the quack and see if I can’t get a prescription for a house in Whitby on the NHS!

1 comment:

Alf Ventress said...

The sickness? Not reason 1 and, despite the best will of the bosses, I refuse to suffer from reason 2. Non work related injury actually!

Policing - Could you?