Open letter to the Eluned Morgan Health Secretary of Wales.

Utter disgust at the treatment of health care professionals in Wales.

Having worked for eighteen months during the pandemic while having three medical conditions that made me at risk but not considered vulnerable enough to isolate I write to you in utter disgust at my treatment during the pandemic and subsequently now that I am unemployed.

During my first employment with Orbis Education & Care I worked within a therapeutic community for young people on the Autistic spectrum. I was comfortable with the fact they locked down the community four weeks prior to any governmental recommendations and implemented a stick no cross over policy between the three units within the community. This meant that the chances of the virus being brought into the community from outside was limited to the comings and goings of the current staff members. In the fifth week they introduced a young man into the unit that I was working within. He came along with his own team of six carers all of whom were agency workers. It was not long after speaking with them that it became apparent that our unit was not the only place that they worked. In fact four of the six carers reported that they were bank carers and thus could potentially work at several other establishments in England and Wales as well as ours within one week. I pointed out to the management team within Orbis that I felt this was not an acceptable situation for myself in that I to had been self-isolating other than to attend work. There response was negative and thus I reluctantly went on sick leave feeling that the circumstances had jeopardised my health. After two months of sick leave I resigned due to the continuation of the bank care staff’s comings and goings with the new resident.

In consultation with my own GP in relation to the precautions that I would need to take I then took up in June of last year a position in a smaller therapeutic community run by Amberleigh Care Ltd specialising in young men displaying harmful sexualised behaviours. This time I took up a night position thereby reducing my contact with the comings and goings of the day staff. Shortly after my start it became apparent that things within this community were not quite right. The level of abuse that a core team of staff members displayed towards others was drastically concerning especially in light of the nature of the work that we were carrying out. Sexual innuendos by senior members of staff towards female members of staff were for me so concerning that I felt it necessary to report them to both my line manager and both CEO’s. The result of this was that the manager told me I was ruffling feathers by speaking up and drawing attention to not only the above but to the underlying ethos of bullying that resulted in several members of staff both male and female being continually reduced to tears each time they came on shift. On top of this I had to deal and work with an individual whom felt it was appropriate to play racially provocative material at night while working with me. This was something I tried to ignore and work with as in speak with the person and let them know how offensive these acts actually were. After eight months to no avail I reported the gentleman to my management team who said they would investigate the matter. After a two-week investigation nothing was done. And thus when I turned up for work one night and found out that I was again to be working with this gentleman I raised a formal complaint. That was the last night I worked I was sent home and subsequently dismissed. At the dismissal hearing attended by the Union representative I was told that I was too professional for the company and that while having a grievance procedure active they felt that I should not return to work.

I understand why there is a push for professionalism within the care industry within Wales because the reality is that it is insular verging on incestual and there is a culture of bullying and discriminatory practices that is a standard norm and anyone who challenges this is ostracised bullied and harassed most in my observations until they quit their positions. I think this is further endorsed and supported by a union structure that is based upon small community relationships whereby if you complain to one Davies or Jones you complain to them all. In my personal experience both Unison and Acas are complicit in this insular/incestual behaviour neither of which are willing to pursue any course of action that would address any of the above let alone take steps to irradicate or hold accountable those individuals who bully, harass and racially abuse individuals like myself.

To add insult to injury I’m now being penalised by the DWP for having saved a little money in the eighteen months I was working by having my benefits reduced by £10 per week. It’s bad enough that I didn’t get the first payment of £500 for key workers as this happened at the time where I changed jobs but now that the additional £750 is to be awarded which is to have tax and national insurance taken out I’m informed that this will drastically reduce the amount of benefit that I will receive in the month that this is paid. How this is justifiable in a period where half the county is on the furlough scheme is far beyond me. As a government you are speaking loud and clear in your unsporting of those on benefits for what ever reason while you pay half the country money for being at home. How is it justifiable that you can pay furlough a decent living wage to those whom otherwise would have been unemployed stating they need a decent amount to live on but this is not applicable to the old, disable, sick or unemployed. As a government you are increasingly almost daily displaying you prejudices towards certain groups within society and I’m finding it disgraceful frustrating and humiliating not only because of my own personal circumstance but because I know so many others whom your decisions are reducing their life chances and ability to have any form of decent standards of living. And yet politicians flagrantly break those rules which you seem so adamant to impose upon some of us.

Yours un-respectfully

Richard Bradley Wilks