UNISON Northern Ireland

UNISON Press Release

Statement from Anne Speed, Head of Bargaining and Representation, UNISON


UNISON is calling for genuine engagement on the future of stroke services.

Today the Department of Health has published a consultation document on the reconfiguration of stroke services that proposes the closure of existing stroke units at a number of hospital sites. Responding to the announcement, UNISON Head of Bargaining and Representation Anne Speed said:

‘‘The circumstances in which the Department of Health has brought forward these proposals are unacceptable. Staff and trade union representatives across the HSC Trusts have been only been briefed this morning on these proposals, just in advance of a public consultation document being launched. Staff will undoubtedly be feeling anxious and uncertain as to the future of the stroke units they work in, which could have been avoided if the proper processes had been followed.   

Whilst it is absolutely right and appropriate for the public to have its say on these proposals, it is not acceptable to conflate the duty to consult the public with the duty to consult with trade unions.

During the previous pre-consultation on stroke services, we proposed that any reform be discussed at the Partnership Forum which exists between the Department, HSC employers and trade unions well in advance of any public consultation phase, so that the input of all stakeholders could be considered at an early stage .The Department must explain why it did not use  an opportunity for genuine, constructive engagement through this forum.

The Department may state that it wishes to undertake the transformation of the health service on the basis of co-production and co-design, but these words are meaningless unless there is genuine engagement with staff and trade unions. UNISON has therefore written to the Department demanding an urgent meeting on these proposals.

Trade union members are not just health service workers, they and their families are also service users and we will scrutinise these proposals carefully to assess their impact on them and the wider public.

Given that time is of the essence in the delivery of care for those suffering from a stroke it is absolutely vital that life-saving services continue to be accessible for all.  This must be the primary consideration and UNISON will continue to support community led campaigns calling for the provision of services on this basis.

As it is clear that these proposals will impact on UNISON members across the health system, we expect the HSC system to  ensure formal negotiations on all matters affecting the employment and terms and conditions of our members."

For comment, please contact Anne Speed – 07904427133 or UNISON – 02890270190