Health visitors employed by Lincolnshire county council will strike initially for six days 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 today (Friday 28 June) that the 58 health visitors voted by an 84 per cent majority to strike.

A 48 hour stoppage will start on 15 July, with 24 hour strikes on 19 and 22 July. This will be followed by a 48 hour strike on 25 July. All the strikes will start at 00:01.

It is believed to be the first time that the county’s health visitors will have taken strike action in defence of their pay and professional standards.

The strike comes as controversy continues to swirl over the £292,000 pay off to the council chief executive Keith Ireland for less than six months’ work.

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.

Unite regional officer Steve Syson said: “It is unprecedented for the health visitors in Lincolnshire to vote for strike action – the reasons being the council’s refusal to give them a pay rise since 2017 and concerns that their professional standards are being seriously eroded by a penny pinching employer.

“The demise in numbers means that those left have excessive caseloads and more serious safeguarding cases to deal with.

“At a time when there is the lowest number of heath visitors in England since September 2012, it is outrageous that the council seems determined to freeze the incomes of the health visitors and undermine their professional standards.

“Our members are very reluctant to strike as they know the impact it will have on Lincolnshire’s families, many of them in vulnerable circumstances.

“But they are faced with a county council 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 – we have a local authority with a skewed sense of priorities.

“I wrote to the council in a bid to settle this dispute, but, as yet, I have not had the courtesy of a reply. However, Unite’s door remains open for constructive talks 24/7 for the benefit of Lincolnshire families.”

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.