Letters

In reference to your news story 'Modernisers go back to the front line' (page 5, 16 August), it seems that members of the NHS Modernisation Board, in their wisdom, are heading back to the shop floor to give themselves a taste of life on the front line (have they every been there? ).

Consultant surgeon Professor Ara Darzi swapped his operating gown for a porter's uniform to do a Friday night shift in an accident and emergency department.

He remarked: 'It was certainly very different from what I expected', and found that 'porters are among the first group of staff patients have to deal with'. He notes: 'You certainly learn they do have a very important job and work extremely well as a team, which is something we could all learn from.'

I am grateful for Professor Darzi's findings, though I suspect most health workers have known this for many years.

It now looks like other members of this elite group are scheduled to roll up their sleeves.

I await in anticipation, bearing in mind Professor Darzi's comments, what recommendations will be made for such an important and valued group of staff.

Maybe I can help:

a decent level of basic pay for the first time ever (£240-£250 per week);

a shorter working week, without loss, to fall in line with most other health staff;

a little bit of respect and dignity so they can really feel part of the NHS team.

If this is not forthcoming, the words 'publicity stunt' would be apt.

George Barron Unison branch secretary Northumbria healthcare branch