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Overworked? Time to take action

Amicus is investigating the level of excessive working nationally, following the case of a health visitor awarded £64,000, after suffering a breakdown because of overwork.

Amicus - the third largest trade union in the NHS - is asking its members to get in touch with their regional offices if they feel that the demands of NHS managers could affect their health and ability to do their job.

Excessive working in the NHS was highlighted by the case of health visitor Tina Hiles, who was awarded £64,000 in compensation by the High Court, after the workload imposed on her by her trust - South Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust (PCT) - caused a breakdown. 

Judge Robert Moxon-Browne ruled that South Gloucestershire PCT had been in breach of its duty to Ms Hiles and that the stress she had suffered at work had been the cause of her breakdown. The PCT had its application to appeal the judgment rejected.

The judge said: "I think this particularly injury was foreseen and could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care."

Amicus Head of Health, Kevin Coyne said: "This tragic case demonstrates that with the continuing cutbacks to the health visiting service and reduction to services in other areas of the NHS, there will be more cases of excessive workloads inflicted on our members by unthinking managers.

"We want to know about these cases before the burden becomes intolerable and are urging our members to contact their regional offices, so that action can be taken immediately. We also want to get a true measure of the problem across the UK.

"Amicus will have no hesitation in fighting these injustices through the courts and tribunals on behalf of our members. Amicus is strongly campaigning against cuts to jobs and services; nationally, regionally and locally."

As part of the Amicus Health Who Cares? campaign, Kevin Coyne will be having talks next month with managers at the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PCT on behalf of the school nurse member Sue Greenwood, who recently told Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt of her 9,000 school-age children caseload covering 28 schools. Ms Hewitt described this as "horrific".