Health managers badly treated by media, union conference told

Eamonn Donnelly of Impact says health managers fed up with ‘lazy media narrative’

Eamonn Donnelly, national secretary of Impact, at the union’s conference in Wexford. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

Eamonn Donnelly, national secretary of Impact, at the union’s conference in Wexford. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan


Health workers are fed up of the “lazy media narrative” that the service is just about doctors and nurses and that managers are “superfluous”, the Impact conference has been told.

The trade union’s national secretary, Eamonn Donnelly, was speaking to delegates who represent managerial, technical, clerical and other health and social care professionals at the annual conference, in Wexford on Thursday.

He said the country needs to get away from the “lazy lexicon” that the health service is only about “front-line workers” which “really hurts the community” that Impact represents.

He said the system would be worse off without the work of people sitting in an office, “who are considered by the media to be superfluous” but are putting together a well-structured plan for doctors and nurses.

“I dare say the health service would be in a bad position if those people didn’t do their jobs professionally,” he said.

Mr Donnelly said that when there is overcrowding in A&E departments, “the default position of many governments has been to say, ‘Well that’s because managers are not managing properly’ . . . I don’t accept this.”

“The real problem about A&E overcrowding is, we don’t have a 10-year plan we talked about, we don’t have step-down facilities for people to get out of hospitals quicker and make A&Es better places. It’s easy to say that’s the role of a hospital manager, and it is the role of a hospital manager,” he said.

Outsourcing red line

The union was supportive of a “proper performance-management system that would show the job is being done properly,” he said. “And if the job isn’t being done properly, we will put systems in place to make sure [it] is,” he said.

When such criticisms are allowed to fester, it is “very hurtful to the morale” of staff, he told delegates and Minister for Health Simon Harris, who had earlier addressed the conference.

He also said there was an agenda out there on outsourcing, which is a bone of contention for health service staff.

“Outsourcing is a red-line issue for us,” Mr Donnelly said. “We simply won’t vote for an agreement that puts decent jobs at risk, or which says it’s okay for vital public services to be delivered by staff on minimum wage, with no rights or representation, and no idea whether they’ll have a job next year, next month or even next week.”