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EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 TUESDAY, 8 FEBRUARY 2000

LOW PAY DRIVES "FORGOTTEN" HEALTH STAFF
OUT OF THE NHS, SAYS SURVEY

Low pay and no career prospects for Medical Technical Officers - "the forgotten men and women of the NHS" - are driving these key professionals out of the NHS, according to a new survey published by health union, MSF today (Tuesday, 8 February).

MSF said that a "substantial" increase in pay was needed to counter the survey's findings that 81% of MSF members felt their pay was too low. Lack of career prospects (58%) and not being valued (54%) were also contributory factors as to why Medical Technical Officers (MTOs) left the NHS.

The majority of respondents - 56% - said they would leave the NHS if they could.

MTOs are responsible for complicated technical work in hospitals including monitoring patients suffering with heart, brain, CNS and hearing disorders. They are responsible for patients under anaesthetic, for cancer patients, and even responsible for the maintenance of critical hospital equipment, such as special care baby units and renal dialysis machines.

MSF Regional Officer, Sarah Cook, who wrote the report, said: "Pay is the key issue for our MTO members. They are not paid enough is the explicit message being given. They are the forgotten men and women of the NHS. There are clear recruitment and retention issues for the NHS amongst MTOs."

For the majority of MTO2/3s (58% of the survey), the starting salary bands range from 12,286 - 16,169. For example, a qualified MTO2 in medical physics with more than seven years service is earning as little as 13,800. Trainee MTOs could start on just 7,233.

"Besides a substantial increase in pay, MTOs would like to be state registered which would give them the necessary status for the responsible jobs that they do. They should also be covered by the Pay Review Body, which could eradicate the glaring anomalies in pay that are now arising," she said.

MSF's Head of Health, Roger Kline said: "This is further evidence to back MSF's national campaign for the Government to inject a large infusion of cash into the NHS and to accord MTOs the status they deserve - it's the only way to stop these skilled professionals leaving in droves."

* There are 15,000 MTOs in the UK of which 4,300 are MSF members. There was a 22% response rate from MSF's survey.

-ends-

NOTE FOR NEWS DESKS

1.) For further information, please contact

Sarah Cook 0468 69 39 49
Andrea Lawson 01705 286000 ext: 2168 bleep 474 (Chair of MSF's Medical Technologists Occupational Advisory Committee)
Roddy Kelly 0141 201 0132 (Vice Chair of MSF's Medical Technologists OAC Roger Kline 0468 69 39 34
Shaun Noble Press Officer (020) 7939 7043 Mobile 0468 69 39 40

2.) Sarah Cook, Andrea Lawson and Roddy Kelly are available for interview.

3.) Pay scales for MTOs

Trainee 7,233 - 8,839
MTO1 9,796 - 13,290
MTO2 12,286 - 17,846
MTO3 16,169 - 21,276
MTO4 19,671 - 25,885
MTO5 23,931 - 31,494

Only 9% of the survey were on the top grade MTO% and 22% on MTO4

4.) The report is available, free of charge, from: NHS Office, MSF, 40 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3UD.

5.) MSF represents 65,000 health service professionals including the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists, laboratory scientific staff, the College of Health Care Chaplains, the Community Psychiatric Nurses Association, the Medical Practitioners' Union, clinical psychologists, speech therapists, the Hospital Physicists Association and the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association.

MSF has 400,000 skilled and professional members in a wide range of industries. It is the UK's fifth largest

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