LABOUR urged NHS hospitals yesterday to sign up to a voluntary TUC charter that would protect the rights of staff who want to continue working after being diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Unions say that the law currently doesn’t do enough to protect terminally ill workers, who remain at risk of dismissal even in their final months.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth launched the drive behindthe TUC Dying to Work campaign to get all NHS trusts on board over the next year.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Work should be the least of your worries when facing a terminal diagnosis.”
“NHS staff deserve dignity and respect at work, especially at difficult stages in their lives. That’s why it’s so important that more NHS trusts get on board over the coming year.”
Signed-up employers would need to review sick pay and sickness absence procedures and provide a statement ensuring they would not dismiss any person because of a terminal diagnosis.
Bosses would need to provide training to line managers and all HR staff on dealing with terminal illness, including how to discuss future plans with any worker who has a diagnosis and on what adaptations to work arrangements that may be necessary.
So far eight English NHS trusts have signed up to the charter and there are calls for MPs to sign up as individual employers.
Mr Ashworth said: “NHS employers can provide a lead on the treatment of terminally ill workers. So in 2018, the 70th year of the NHS, I’m calling for all NHS trusts in England to commit to the Dying to Work charter and make sure all NHS staff can have not just dignity in life right up until the very end but also dignity in work.”