Headlines: February 21st, 2002

An open letter calls on the Prime Minister to build on his recent speeches about the value of public services with a concerted effort to raise the esteem in which their staff are held. It argues that public service workers do not feel valued, either by the public, by their employers or by political leaders.The letter warns that the biggest single cause of discontent amongst public service workers is the criticism they receive from politicians and the media, and the impact this has on their public image. Many find their work to be stressful and unrewarding. These factors combined with pay and the cost of living, deteriorating working conditions and more attractive opportunities elsewhere, are causing staff shortages across the public sector.

The letter calls for these fundamental issues to be tackled across all public services – not just those with the highest political profile. In addition to a campaign to promote the value of public service, pay and working conditions should be improved, and investment in staff training and development should be encouraged, not compromised in the name of efficiency.

Signatories to the letter include a local authority chief executive, the General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Chief Executive of the King’s Fund and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

A newly published MORI opinion poll shows that 91 per cent of people were very or fairly satisfied with the job that doctors do. The public’s trust in doctors has risen over the past year and the poll showed that 91 per cent of people thought that doctors tell the truth, making them the most trusted of the professions. Just six per cent of people thought that doctors do not tell the truth.