UNISON Northern Ireland

A message from the UNISON Northern Ireland Health Committee for members in health and social services

We want to thank you for your amazing response to this current crisis and the dedication, courage and commitment you continue to show in extremely challenging circumstances. Like millions of others we know that our health and the health of our families is safe in your hands - and that knowledge is a source of comfort to many as this situation develops.

We want to reassure you that your union is continuing to work hard on your behalf to ensure that everything is being done to help you while you deal with this crisis.

We are pressing for a range of measures which will help all staff (directly employed and contracted) work safely and get properly paid during any Covid19-related absence. We will update your local reps so you can get help if you have a problem where you work.

We have raised the issues of testing for staff, the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and safe working for pregnant staff or those with underlying health conditions. We’re pressing for speedy responses and solutions from the Department of Health and all employers.

We have had urgent talks about school and nursery closures so that the widest possible range of health and social care workers can access the key worker provision. And we will continue to press for measures that enable you to work without worrying about your families.

Across the whole union we have been working with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), Chief Nursing Officers and with the devolved governments to get agreement on how third year nursing students can get temporary registration so they can join the workforce. Our priority has been to protect students and ensure that this is a voluntary initiative. We will also be negotiating around their employment status, pay and scope of practice – and keeping student members updated throughout.

Finally, we are having to adapt how we do our work to these extreme circumstances. But what we do will continue to be guided by our healthcare workers and the issues they raise with us.

It is important that you know that UNISON is here for you.