Health visitors employed by Lincolnshire county council are striking for 48 hours from today (Monday 15 July) over not getting paid the rate for the job and the erosion of their professional responsibilities which could adversely impact vulnerable families.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union said) that the 58 health visitors are going ahead go-ahead with their strike after talks with the council, under the auspices of the conciliation service Acas, failed to resolve the dispute.

Unite regional officer Steve Syson said: “We held Acas talks with the council on Friday and, unfortunately, we were unable to reach a settlement, and therefore, the 48 hour strike today is going ahead.

“We believe it to be the first time that the county’s health visitors will have taken strike action in defence of their pay and professional standards.

“It is a sad indictment of the council bosses that they have allowed the situation to reach this stage  However, we are faced with a local authority more concerned with giving its former chief executive Keith Ireland a scandalous £292,000 pay off for a mere six months work than paying its own health visitors the rate for the job.

“That said, Unite’s door remains open for constructive talks at any time to settle this dispute for the benefit of our members and, ultimately, for the welfare of the families of Lincolnshire.”

There is a demonstration of striking health visitors that are not on the outreach picket lines from 08:30 today near the Lincolnshire County Council’s Gates, Newland, Lincoln LN1 1YL.

Unite calculates 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.

Further stoppages are planned with 24 hour strikes on 19 and 22 July, which will be followed by a 48 hour strike on 25 July. All the strikes will start at 00:01. The health visitors had voted by an 84 per cent majority to strike.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

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.
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.