I am writing to update you on the teleconference that NIPSA and the Trade Unions in Health had yesterday with the Department of Health and the Trust Employers. Firstly, you will now be aware that the updated version of the Frequently Asked Questions issued on Tuesday afternoon and will provide you with some further guidance and clarity on matters such as Pregnant Workers.

At the teleconference the Trade Unions again raised the urgent issue of Health & Safety and the availability of appropriate PPE for our members in Hospital and Community Services. We have been told that the Minister has listened to these widespread concerns across all grades and has now released emergency stock. On that basis we asked how this will be distributed, to where and when. We have been informed that this is being planned as a matter of urgency by the Employers. This discussion was had in the context that there are fundamental Health & Safety principles that must be complied with and whilst our members will continue to provide vital services for patients and clients they too must be protected and kept safe while in work. Separate to raising with the DOH and Employers, NIPSA has also written to the Health Minister to seek the assurances our members require.

Covid-19 testing is underway for categories and further plans are being developed to widen this out to staff.

Agency Workers issues have again been raised and we expect information from the Staff Council over the next few days. We want to ensure that Agency Workers have protections and job security.

Redeployment is causing worry and anxiety for our members and information needs to flow to keep all updated on current decisions and plans. We have been told that what is deemed non-essential services will continue to be stood down and staff will be redeployed to other more critical roles and those discussions have already started with trade unions and staff.

NIPSA Health Branch Secretaries also had a teleconference yesterday afternoon, where information was exchanged across the Trusts and updates given. It was agreed that members should continue to raise all Health & Safety issues through your local representative and Branch Committee members, who will raise all concerns with the Employer and if needed they will be escalated to the Department of Health.

Please be reassured that our Local Reps, Branch Committees and NIPSA HQ staff continue to work for members. We appreciate that the ongoing lack of clarity on some key issues is stressful for our members and their families. Our main aim remains to ensure that you are safe in work and that all Health & Safety principles are in place and complied with. Regular updates will be issued to you as information is known to keep you fully informed.

I also wish to draw you attention to the links at the bottom of the page the NHS Staff Council Statement on Covid and Question and Answers for Health and Social Care Staff dated 24.3.2020.

NIPSA Branch Secretaries, please ensure this is forward on to all members.

Maria Morgan
Assistant Secretary