Working life in the NHS

Near enough the whole section of The Guardian's G2 supplement is dedicated to looking at what working life is like for Europe's largest employer - the British NHS. The NHS employs around 1.3 million employees and the article in question - Life, death and paperwork - is the result of 35 interviews with employees that range from "the cabinet minister to the mortuary attendant, the chief executive to the chaplain".

An example of one of the interviews is as follows and represents the words of Martin Grant, 34, and a domestic.

I started work at 8am. I work on the Helen Rassell ward, which cares for the elderly. The people there are great to work with. I cleaned the floors and the bathrooms. When I finished the wards, I cleaned the sisters' office. At 12, I cleaned the side rooms and the staff room. From 1-2pm, I took my lunch break. I bring my own food and sit in the x-ray department because we haven't got a very nice room. They don't mind me because I used to work there. At 2pm, I went to the porters' room, cleaning the floors and emptying bins. At 4pm I had another break for an hour and that's when I went to the chapel to pray. I do that every day. I then work until 8pm.

I've been here for 16 years and in the past year things have got much better because we've had new management. The morning managers still don't show us any respect, shut the door in your face and things like that, but the evening ones are great. The pay has increased - I get £5.88 an hour - and so have the holidays. I now get 34 days a year.

Best thing about NHS Being transferred over to the NHS. Before, we cleaners were contracted out.

Worst thing about the NHS The hours you can work have been reduced - you used to be able to do 40-plus. Now it's 37.

The article is a must for people who are interested in working lives, particular those who work for publicly owned healthcare services.

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