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Care workers have risen to second on a list of the most underappreciated public sector roles according to the British public - overtaking nurses.

A survey by public sector membership club Boundless asked workers across the country to name the profession they felt was most under-appreciated in the build up to this year’s UN Public Service Day, which falls today.

The vote saw refuse collectors take first spot, named by 33% of those surveyed, ahead of care workers on 30% and then nurses on 25%.

It marks a significant turn-around in public opinion since 2019, when the same survey saw nurses finish top, with care workers third on only 26%.

Darren Milton at Boundless said: “Our nation’s hardworking care workers have been in the public eye this year, especially during the last few months of the pandemic, and it’s good to see the public is starting to realise just how under-appreciated they are. Hopefully, this will be the start of a new wave of appreciation that makes care workers feel more valued in future.

Public Service Day was first launched by the United Nations as long ago as 2003 but has barely been barely recognised in the UK so far. 

Now Boundless, which was founded in 1923, wants to turn this around and bring the UK together to celebrate the contribution made to society by millions of public service workers, from nurses to teachers, firefighters to administrators and police officers to care workers.

The campaign has the support of Minister for Care, Helen Whately, MP, who paid tribute to the nation’s care workers ahead of Public Service Day.

She said: “This global pandemic has brought tremendous sorrow and disruption to our lives, but amongst this we have also seen widespread and much-deserved recognition of public sector workers who have and will continue to play a fundamental role in our response. 

“I am delighted to see increased appreciation of the incredible contribution our wonderful NHS and care staff make every day, as well as the many other public sector workers who support them. 

“I, along with many others, hope to see this continue long after our country has recovered because we could not have done this without them. Thank you.”


2020 table of most under-appreciated public sector workers

1 Refuse collectors 33%

2 Care workers 30%

3 Nurses 25%

4 Bus drivers 24%

5 Teachers 22%

6 Police 18%

7 HMRC 13%

8 Fire fighters 13%

9 Probation workers 13%

10 Civil service 12%

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