Further to the previous article posted 5 August 2020, we wanted to update further on the work that NIPSA have been doing on HSC Rebuilding, Safe Staffing and other areas of concern to members in Health.

Rebuilding of HSC Services

NIPSA at both a central and local level, continue to engage with HSC management about the rebuilding of HSC services.

This included a meeting with the Department of Health (DOH) on the 7 September 2020 with regards to plans for Urgent and Emergency Care across the HSC. NIPSA sought details on how these might operate and raised issues in relation to Workforce, Safe Staffing and consultation along with the other Health Unions. Whilst we were told that nothing has yet been agreed by the Health Minister it was confirmed that the detail with be consulted on at Trust level and on a Trust by Trust basis.

NIPSA also responded to the DOH Draft Surge Planning Framework on 11 September 2020 and to the NI Regional Covid-19 Care Home Action Plan Phase 2 on 16 September 2020. Again the focus of the NIPSA position was on Safe staffing/Workforce Planning and consultation.

NIPSA are represented on the Whiteabbey Nightingale Work Program to ensure that our members interests are represented in all plans and continue to work with management on the Stage 3 plans across all the trusts.

Safe Staffing

This issue remains a priority for NIPSA, especially in light of rebuild plans and timescales to fill vacancies. The Safe Staffing Framework Delivery Group (SSFDG) held its 3rd meeting on Friday 25 September 2020. Matters discussed included the Terms of Reference that are currently with the Health Minister for sign off, Recruitment Delays, Workforce Vacancies and Safe Staffing legislation. The Agency Reduction Group, a sub group of the SSFDG met again 1 October 2020 to discuss that particular matter and associated issues. It was raised that there are jobs that can be recruited to more easily and this should be taken forward as a matter of urgency.

NIPSA, together with the other health unions, will continue to engage with the Department of Health on ensuring that EU Nationals can continue to work in and be recruited to the health service in Northern Ireland post Brexit.

HSC Life Insurance Scheme

On the 24 September 2020 the DOH confirmed that the HSC Life Assurance Scheme would be in place for staff from May 2020. NIPSA and the Health Trade Unions had raised this since then in recognition of the risk our members were taking working across Health and Social Care during a pandemic. The scheme is a non-contributory payment of £60 thousand in addition to any Death Benefit and the cost met by the Government. The scheme is now live on the DOH website.

Accrual of Statutory Leave while on Maternity Leave

NIPSA are aware that members have been contacted by some of the Trusts to backdate statutory leave that accrued while on maternity/paternity/adoption and parental leave. This retrospection is going back to 2012 and whilst NIPSA welcome the progress made on this we had been seeking that the accrual goes back to 2009, as we would argue that this matter was raised in 2015 and under the 6-year statute entitlements should be from 2009. The Health Trade Unions raised this with the DOH and will need to seek an update of their position and if there is scope to consider further back dating.

If you have any queries about the content of this bulletin, please contact your NIPSA Branch Representatives.

Maria Morgan
Assistant Secretary