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UNISON responds to IFS report on NHS funding

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Commenting on the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Health foundation report on NHS funding, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said:

“We pay considerably less for our NHS than most other European countries do for their health services.

“It delivers exceptional value for money, but this cannot be sustained without a substantial budget increase.

“With the NHS turning 70, now is the time for ministers to show their commitment to a service that has cared for us all so well. That means proper investment.

“Any future financial settlement for the NHS must factor in the costs of having a fairly rewarded and growing workforce.”








The article UNISON responds to IFS report on NHS funding first appeared on the UNISON National site.

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Care Quality Commission give umpteenth NHS pressures warning, says UNISON

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Responding to the Care Quality Commission’s report today (Thursday) on safety standards in A&E departments, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “This is the umpteenth warning that the NHS is under extreme pressure.

“Inadequate funding means services and staff are stretched to the limit, and patients are being put at risk.

“For staff working in an unsafe environment on a daily basis it’s a nightmare, when all they’re trying to do is deliver compassionate care.

“Recent UNISON research showed that in 2016/2017 attacks on health workers in hospitals with A&E departments was up by a fifth on the previous year.”

Notes to editors:
Research published last month by UNISON and HSJ revealed that last year in England physical assaults on NHS staff rose by nearly 10% compared to 2015/16. The figures were obtained following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request – submitted by HSJ working on behalf of UNISON – to all the 244 NHS trusts in England. The biggest increase was in the acute sector, with reported attacks on health workers in hospitals with an A&E department up 21%.





The article Care Quality Commission give umpteenth NHS pressures warning, says UNISON first appeared on the UNISON National site.

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I love working for the NHS – so I’m striking against being outsourced

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“I love working for the NHS,” says Wigan Infirmary domestic Amanda Grimes (below). “We have won awards for being the cleanest hospital and I am very proud to work here.”

And that pride is why Amanda will be on strike tomorrow and Thursday (23 and 24 May), alongside hundreds of her catering, cleaning and portering colleagues at the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust in north-west England.

UNISON members voted for the strike to prevent the trust from moving them to a new employer called WWL Solutions – which would be a private company wholly owned by the trust as a subsidiary.

Staff want to remain direct employees of the trust and of the NHS, and they fear that the proposals would put their jobs, pay and conditions at risk. But they are also taking action to protect future generations of hospital staff, who could find themselves with worse pay and conditions.

“The proposal isn’t fair,” says Amanda. “The NHS should provide jobs that are good and secure. We don’t want the next generation of domestics and porters and catering staff in Wigan to have worse pay and conditions than we have.”

Her colleague Joanne McClure (below) has been a domestic at the trust for 20 years. She points out that the employer’s plan – which affects 900 caterers, cleaners, porters  other staff at three hospitals in Lancashire –  “is about saving money so it is a big risk to us, and what happens if the new company goes bust? It’s a risk we don’t want to have to take.

“I’ve never been in this situation before and it’s nerve-wracking and stressful to be going on strike. But we are all determined and staff are being very supportive of one another.

“If we don’t stop this plan what happens next? Other NHS staff might be outsourced next.”

The National Health Service marks its 70th birthday in July, and Joanne added: “We want there to be an NHS in another 70 years and so we are fighting for our jobs and fighting to defend the NHS.”

It is the strength of feeling displayed by UNISON members like Amanda and Joanne that led to the 89% vote for strike action in a ballot which saw 73% of the UNISON members affected cast a vote.

And it is that same strength of feeling that led regional organiser Sean Gibson to declare: “The staff are determined to stop the WWL Solutions plan and they have done themselves proud in standing together against it.”

He described the trust’s plan to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary – something being considered by other hospitals across England – as “an attack on the living standards and job security of people who live in the communities that this trust is supposed to serve.

“And it is an attack on the prospects of future hospital staff,” he added.

“As we approach the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the NHS, the trust needs to grant the wish of this group of core hospital staff to remain in the direct employment of the NHS.

“It should stop trying to divide the workforce up and instead keep the NHS team together. It should abandon the WWL Solutions plan.”

As well as pickets at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan, the Wrightington Hospital and the Leigh Infirmary, the strikers will be staging a noon rally tomorrow (Wednesday) at Life Centre South in Wigan, with local MP Lisa Nandy MP due to attend and give her support.

Key issue: Wholly owned subsidiaries in the NHS

Health conference: UNISON vows to step up fight against wholly owned subsidiaries (18 April 2018)

Earlier story: Hospital staff vote for strike over outsourcing plans (10 May 2018)

Earlier story: Hospital workers vote for strike ballot (5 February 2018)




The article I love working for the NHS – so I’m striking against being outsourced first appeared on the UNISON National site.

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UNISON urges government to scrap damaging NHS competition rules

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Commenting on the reports today (Tuesday) that the government is to review the Health and Social Care Act, UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said:

“Since the Act, the NHS has been operating with one hand firmly tied behind its back. The government’s reforms have proved expensive, pointless and exposed the health service to unnecessary and avoidable strains.

“It’s just such a shame it’s taken six years for the government to realise the scale of its mistake.

“As an immediate fix ministers should scrap the damaging competition rules that force the NHS to sell off its services to private firms.

“They must also get rid of this controversial piece of legislation and replace it with new laws protecting the NHS from damaging privatisation and ensuring all parts of the health service can work as one team.

“This would help show patients and staff they are truly committed to an efficient, effective, caring and modern NHS.”

Notes to editors:
Earlier this year, UNISON gave evidence to the Health Select Committee advising MPs to repeal the Health and Social Care Act. It also suggested, as an interim measure, abolishing the Section 75 secondary legislation stemming from the Act, immediately removing the need for services to be put out to tender.

The article UNISON urges government to scrap damaging NHS competition rules first appeared on the UNISON National site.

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Academy workers face jobs threat

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UNISON is meeting members at an academy schools chain across Cheshire after their employer announced 43 redundancies at seven schools.

At the same time, UNISON, NEU, NASUWT and ASCL have written to local MP Mike Amesbury – a member of the local government select committee – to ask for meeting where they can discuss the threat to jobs and school provision.

The University of Chester Academies Trust operates schools in Ellesmere Port, Warrington, Chester, Kidsgrove (two schools), Northwich and Weaverham.

UNISON contacted staff at the seven schools, pledging that “in conjunction with all the teaching unions, we will be working collectively” to find a way forward that avoids compulsory redundancies.

The academy chain is blaming very low pupil numbers and severe financial difficulties for the threat to jobs. Schools in Ellesmere Port and Kidsgrove in Staffordshire will be hardest hit, with some facing up to 15 job losses affecting school staff and teachers.

UNISON regional organiser Keith Bradley said the union will be working “to ensure that the academy chain and the funding agency do all they can to avert or minimise redundancies”.

“Our schools are integral to the cohesion of our communities,” he added, “and it makes a big impact when staff lose their jobs due to a lack of funding

“The school support staff that we represent perform valuable roles, including teaching assistants, administrators and caretakers.

“Many have worked in their local school for many years and are part of the community they serve. It’s a tragedy that they face the prospect of losing their jobs, and it can only have a negative effect on pupils.

“Unlike council-run schools, academy chains are not accountable to the communities they serve, and are remote from the impact of the damaging decisions that they make.”

He called on the government “to stop its dogmatic insistence and academisation and fund all schools properly”.

The article Academy workers face jobs threat first appeared on the UNISON National site.

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UNISON and Napo probation workers in day of protest over pay

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Probation staff in England and Wales, who work for the National Probation Service (NPS) and the 21 privatised community rehabilitation companies (CRCs), are today (Friday) staging a day of protest to call for a long overdue pay rise.

Their unions – Napo and UNISON – say that the 18,000 probation staff have been treated more harshly than other public sector workers, and received just a single 1% pay increase since 2009.

Probation workers manage some of the most dangerous offenders in the community. They oversee their rehabilitation, and supervise and monitor them to keep local communities safe, say unions.

UNISON and Napo say the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation reforms have seen a once high performing service abolished and replaced with two new partly privatised bodies.

The two unions believe that staff employed by the NPS and CRCs have paid a high price as a result of these ‘disastrous’ probation reforms.

Earlier this year, a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation revealed that the private companies were ‘overstretched’ and ‘struggling’ to enforce community sentences being handed down by the courts.

UNISON national officer Ben Priestley said: “The government’s attempt at reform has been nothing short of disastrous. Last year, ministers bailed out the failing privatised companies to the tune of £342m. Yet they can’t find a penny to increase pay for dedicated staff keeping the probation service going in extremely challenging circumstances.

“Money set aside for a pay rise was reallocated to the CRC bail out and a prison staff pay increase. No wonder probation workers feel so devalued and demoralised. It’s high time they got a decent pay rise.”

Napo general secretary Ian Lawrence said: “Our members have yet again been side lined for a pay rise whilst propping up the private companies. Probation staff face ever-increasing workloads, increased stress, failing ICT systems and a nine-year pay freeze.

“It is wholly unacceptable and the MOJ faces yet more cuts over the next few years with our members being taken for granted. Probation needs a pay rise and a full pay reform as a matter of urgency.”

Notes to editors:

The reforms replaced the previous 35 individual probation trusts with a single National Probation Service, responsible for the management of high-risk offenders, and with 21 private CRCs to manage low to medium risk offenders in England and Wales.

HMIP published a report into probation on 6 February 2018.



The article UNISON and Napo probation workers in day of protest over pay first appeared on the UNISON National site.

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Two new senior appointments at UNISON

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Public services union UNISON has today (Thursday) announced two new appointments to its senior management team.

Margaret Thomas and Emilie Oldknow are to become assistant general secretaries, alongside the existing team of Christina McAnea, Liz Snape and Roger McKenzie, and general secretary Dave Prentis.

Margaret’s role has responsibility for UNISON’s 12 regions, and Emilie’s remit covers staffing and other internal union matters.

Margaret is currently the union’s Wales regional secretary, who began her journey as a UNISON member of staff 20 years ago in Yorkshire and Humberside as a trainee regional organiser. Before that she worked for Merseyside County Council and the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive and Authority.

Emilie Oldknow joins UNISON from the Labour Party, where she was executive director for governance, membership and party services. She first started working for the Party 15 years ago, joining as a trainee organiser, before becoming a regional organiser, and then regional director. Prior to the Labour Party, Emilie worked for the NHS.

UNISON assistant general secretary Margaret Thomas said: “I’m proud and privileged to be joining the senior management team at UNISON, and am looking forward to playing a key role working on behalf of members, staff and our public services in all parts of the UK.”

UNISON assistant general secretary Emilie Oldknow said: “I’m delighted to be joining such a well-respected and successful organisation as UNISON, with its proud record of standing up for members and protecting the nation’s vital public services. I’m keen to work with the fantastic staff and members to do everything within our power to ensure fair pay for public service workers and proper investment in public services.”

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “I’m delighted to have people of the calibre of Emilie and Margaret joining UNISON’s top team. As Britain’s biggest and best union – with more than a million women in its membership – it’s a real boost to have such excellent assistant general secretaries leading our work to make UNISON even better for our 1.3 million members across the UK’s public services as we celebrate our 25th year.”


The article Two new senior appointments at UNISON first appeared on the UNISON National site.

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