The campaign for pay justice for Lincolnshire health visitors will take centre stage at the TUC Congress in Brighton tomorrow (Tuesday 10 September) Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, has announced.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail is scheduled to highlight the plight of the 58 health visitors, who have been denied legitimate pay rises by Lincolnshire county council since October 2017, during the debate on local government. She will also call on congress to show its solidarity.

The dispute centres on Unite’s calculation that its health visitor members have lost more than £2,000 a year since they were transferred from the NHS to Lincolnshire county council in October 2017. There is also serious concern about the erosion of the health visitors’ professional standards.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Lincolnshire health visitors have taken 18 days of strike action and are now beginning a nine day run of continuous industrial action.
“The strike is unprecedented in the health visiting profession. Since they were transferred from the NHS they have been on the receiving end of a three year pay freeze and been robbed of more than £2,000.

“Added to this pay cut, cuts to local government and concerns about the downgrading of health visitors’ professional status is resulting in fewer staff doing the specialist health visitor role.

“I will be asking TUC congress to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Lincolnshire health visitors in their struggle for pay justice and highlighting the health visitor profession’s proud history of independent advocacy.

“It is a history stretching back to the pioneering women who supported women’s suffrage, working in slums alongside the likes of Sylvia Pankhurst as they fought appalling deprivation.

“As the women’s suffrage movement demanded ‘action in deeds, not words.’ Unite will leave no stone unturned in supporting the Lincolnshire health visitors in their battle for pay justice and their defence of their profession.”

A delegation of Lincolnshire health visitors will be at Brighton as their colleagues start a week-long strike running from today (Monday 9 September) until Friday (13 September) inclusively. This will be on the top of the 17 days already taken. A further 48 hour stoppage has also been announced from 00:01 on Monday 16 September.

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, 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.


For more information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 07967 665869 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940 email:

Notes to editors:

  1. The health visitors voted by an 84 per cent majority to strike.
  2. It is 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 month’s work.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 contracts or were employed by the county council since October 2017. There are also some student health visitors.
  5. The latest figures from NHS Digital reveal the lowest number of health visitors in England since September 2009.
  6. There were 7,121 health visitors in England in April this year, a fall of 31 per cent since their peak of more than 10,000 in October 2015 when the Health Visitor Implementation Plan came to an end.
  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.