The latest round of talks to resolve the health visitors’ pay dispute broke down this afternoon (Friday 9 August) due to Lincolnshire county council’s ‘intransigence’, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said.

Unite said that its 58 health visitor members will now hold two 48 hour strikes on 15-16 August and 19-20 August. – on top of the nine days of strike action already taken. The strikes will start at 00:01.

The health visitors are on the NHS Agenda for Change pay scales, but have had no increases in pay since being transferred to the local authority which has different pay rates – even though both council and NHS employees have received wage awards, these health visitors have not.

Unite regional secretary for the East Midlands Paresh Patel said: “Unite entered into today’s talks, under the auspices of the conciliation service Acas, in good faith, but the council bosses have refused to budge and agree to pay our members the rate for the job.

“Our members, who provide vital support for families and children throughout Lincolnshire, have been buoyed up by the fantastic support that they have received from the public who appreciate the work they do, even if the county council doesn’t.

“Unite won’t allow this pay injustice to stand and the campaign will continue with new strikes, and a rally and march in Lincoln on Saturday 17 August. However, Unite’s door remains open for constructive talks 24/7.”

The rally in Lincoln on 17 August will see the protesters meeting in the Minster Yard at 11.00. The march will start at 11.30 going through the city centre and ending with speeches at High Bridge. This follows well-supported demonstrations this week in Gainsborough, Lincoln and Louth.

The dispute centres on Unite’s calculation that its Lincolnshire health visitor members have lost more than £2,000 a year since they were transferred from the NHS to the county council in October 2017.

Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA), is also seriously concerned about the downgrading of the health visitors’ professional status, resulting in fewer staff doing the specialist health visitor role.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

The health visitors had voted by an 84 per cent majority to strike.

It is believed to be the first time that the county’s health visitors have taken strike action in defence of their pay and professional standards, given extra piquancy by the controversy over the council  handing its former chief executive Keith Ireland a £292,000 pay off for a mere six months work.

NHS staff in England  last year accepted a three year pay deal which, for the majority of staff, meant a 6.5 per cent hike in pay over the three years.

The dispute only involves those 58 health visitors transferred from the NHS under Agenda for Change terms. There are 111 full-time equivalent health visitor posts – and those other health visitors are either on grade 10 contacts or were employed by the county council since October 2017. There are also some student health visitors.

The latest figures from NHS Digital reveal the lowest number of health visitors in England since September 2012.

There were 7,694 health visitors in England in January this year, a fall of 25 per cent since their peak of more than 10,000 in October 2015 when the Health Visitor Implementation Plan came to an end.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065
Email: shaun.noble@unitetheunion.org

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.