In this tough time, small acts of kindness make the world of difference

 Posted in 

Across the UK, care workers have faced serious problems while caring for those most vulnerable to the new coronavirus. But UNISON has been fighting for them – and winning.

Health Unions publish blueprint for safe return of NHS services across the UK
With the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions, discussion has turned to how the NHS restarts those services that were stepped down during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Keeping staff and patients safe and ensuring the NHS is properly resourced are the priorities. 17 NHS trade unions have published a Blueprint for Return asking UK governments and employers to work with us to deliver a safety-first approach.

The blueprint sets out nine demands, including the guarantee of proper PPE, risk assessments, access to testing, ensuring pay for all hours worked, and a commitment that the contribution of all NHS staff in dealing with this pandemic will be reflected in future discussions about pay.
View the statement in full

We need to talk about COVID and Black staff – including the role played by racism

Evidence continues to accumulate about the disproportionate impact COVID-19 is having on Black staff in terms of deaths, serious illness and anxiety levels.

Branches must support Black members to get risk assessed using the urgent advice we issued, and look out for further guidance which we will circulate shortly. We also need to involve Black members in talking about the wider issues of racism that lie beneath what the pandemic is revealing.

The Health Team brought together Yvonne Coghill (Director of the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard programme) with UNISON’s National Black Members Chair and National Race Equality Officer for a no-holds barred discussion. Branches are asked to share the video link with your Black Members networks, and use it to spark local conversations.

Listen to the conversation
New guidance on RIDDOR

NHS Employers have published two flow charts to help employers identify when they should report COVID-19 under RIDDOR (Reporting Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) based on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance. 

There is also advice on NHS E/I formal reporting in the event of the death of an NHS worker. Branches should check employers are aware and continue to encourage members to report incidents of COVID-19 exposure.

RIDDOR and HSE apply across the UK, so the NHS Employers flow charts will be of relevance and interest to all the devolved administrations.

NHS Employers COVID-19 sickness absence advice
HSE RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19

Care workers affected by gruelling shifts caring for Covid-19 patients have been offered courses on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by their trade union

Help for members
Graphic with rainbow and words: COVID-19 response fund we're there for you
COVID-19 response fund launched

There for You is UNISON’s unique charity, set up to help members in difficulties – and this year, the COVID-19 crisis is making life harder for many of our already-stretched members.

The welfare charity has set up a special fund to respond to calls for help because of the pandemic, with £250,000 set aside for members in need. Our members can only apply for a grant if they know about it so please share as widely as you can.

Watch and share our film on the fund on Twitter
Watch and share our film on the fund on Facebook
Read more about the launch
Find out more about the fund and how members can apply
PPE: Help save lives
Our members in care, the NHS and other vital public services have risen to the challenge of dealing with this pandemic.

But many feel they are  being forced to put themselves in harm’s way every time they go to work because this government is not keeping its promises on personal protective equipment (PPE).
Sign and share our petition calling for PPE not promises
Coronavirus: latest advice and updates
It's good to talk – especially now
Wakefield local government branch has taken an innovative approach to welcoming its surge of new members during COVID-19.
Read the full article
COVID-19 affects Black and women workers worse
Anyone can be infected by COVID-19. But it’s increasingly clear that that’s where the equality ends.
Read the full story

Inequalities emerging through the pandemic are chilling evidence to support UNISON’s demands on workplace rights and decent public services.  We need them now

Wales’ biggest public services trade union has warmly welcomed Welsh Government’s announcement today that all social care workers will be paid a £500 bonus in recognition of their work during the coronavirus pandemic.

PPE: A message from Dave Prentis
graphic featuring health worker wearing mask with the words
Your right to be safe from harm at work
Workers should never be in a situation where they might endanger themselves and others in the course of doing their jobs. If members are in that position, and as a last resort exercise their right not to endanger themselves  or others, we will provide advice and support. Your union is with you every step of the way.

As we prepare to remember colleagues who already died on International Workers Memorial Day, we vow to fight for the living.
Read Dave's full message
Coronavirus: advice on PPE
PPE: Tell us your story
Coronavirus: latest advice and updates
Coronavirus: advice for health and safety reps
Members being furloughed? Find out about their rights
UNISON calls for a minute's silence
Graphic with purple ribbon and text: International Workers' Memorial Day - One minute's silence for all key workers lost to COVID-19 - 11am Tuesday 28 April
Tuesday 28 April is International Workers’ Memorial Day. It's something we mark every year as we vow to "remember the dead; fight for the living”. In the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak, that has an added significance.

That's why UNISON, the Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Nursing called for a minute's silence at 11am on 28 April to remember those who have lost their lives in this pandemic: UNISON members, family and friends, people in our communities and those our members care for.
Read more about IWMD and Tuesday's one minute silence
Coronavirus: online learning update
New resources available for health and safety reps and care workers at our dedicated site.
Find out more
More than 1,000 care home deaths highlight 'shambolic' government response
General secretary Dave Prentis says government must ‘get act together’ to prevent more needless deaths.
Read the full press release

Kebba Manneh speaking at a UNISON Cymru Wales event. Photo credit: Natasha Hirst   There must be an investigation into why Black people have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus across Wales, says UNISON today (Thursday). UNISON Cymru Wales says Black health service staff and care workers are dying disproportionately, and the higher number of Black […]

Dear All,


We do not all have children at home who can create a lovely poster for our windows, so James Tanner has kindly put one together for us (with assistance from Flo Courtney).


Here is a UNISON Rainbow poster produced by the region which you can print for display in your window or in your workplace to show your support for all our members working in the tragic and challenging circumstances of the covid-19 crisis.


Stay safe,


Kind Regards,

Lynne Hackett 
Regional Organiser 
UNISON Cymru Wales

Telephone  number - 02920 729 414

email -

Wellbeing guides



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If you need a distraction in lockdown, here’s a book that celebrates the birth of the NHS and leaves us with an unspoken question: what would be happening now without our health service?

 Posted in  

Dear colleague, 


Today, we’re launching a new staff app – StaffConnect – to give our staff the information they need and keep us all better connected with the organisation and our colleagues.


With the unprecedented and ever-changing situation we are currently facing in relation to COVID-19, it is more important than ever that all members of staff can easily access accurate, up-to-date information pertinent to their work.


Access anywhere

Many of our staff cannot access the health board’s corporate networks or staff intranet. StaffConnect gives all staff access to the latest information on the go, wherever and whenever they need it on their smartphone, tablet and desktop devices. 


Key features

The app features:

  • Newsfeed – with the latest updates about COVID-19, Len’s daily CEO Connects operational briefing, national guidance and materials, workforce information, and staff wellbeing resources.
  • Communities and document libraries – giving clinical boards, directorates and departments private spaces to discuss their work and share information and resources relevant to their areas.
  • Chat and group chat functionality – this allows users to communicate privately with colleagues across the organisation, but please note that patient identifiable information must not be shared. 
  • Access to ESR and online bank shifts – giving access to everything you need all in one place.

Getting connected

Members of staff with NHS email addresses will shortly receive an invitation to join the app, while the remainder of staff will be able to register using their staff number, which you can find in ESR and on your latest payslip. To access the app:


1.Download ‘Staff Connect’ app for your  or  device, or visit your desktop device. 

2.Open the app and enter our unique Organisation ID: CAVUHB

3.Register with your staff number and surname. 

A short welcome video in the app shows how to navigate it and use the main features.


Please cascade this email and the attached poster through your teams to ensure that all members of staff are aware of and able to sign up to StaffConnect.


For more information or support, please email


Please can you link through to:


Social care workers across Wales have welcomed the introduction of a card which will allow them to access supermarkets during the allocated opening hours for health service staff

Card launched for care workers desperate for fair access to supermarkets, lead officer for social care Mark Turner quoted, Tenby Observer.


The same story appeared in the Narberth & Whitland Observer, again quoting Mark and a piece was broadcast on BBC Radio Cymru.

As the nation prepares for to clap for carers – including health and other key workers – again tonight, UNISON is speaking up for our members with  national and local newspaper ads

UNISON service groups all pushing to protect members in the coronavirus crisis

Protective kit supply issues in Wales must be overcome immediately, says UNISON


UNISON Wales has today (Saturday) written to the First Minster in the strongest terms about the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) across Wales. 


The letter was sent in reaction to the death yesterday of a healthcare worker and UNISON member who contracted Covid-19 after caring for infected patients. 


UNISON has received numerous reports from frontline workers about inadequate levels of PPE in hospitals and care homes across Wales.


UNISON Cymru Wales Secretary Tanya Palmer said: “Health, care and other key workers providing local services must have the supplies of gowns, eye protection, gloves, masks and sanitiser they need now. 


“This is a matter of urgency. Any supply chain issues the Welsh government is experiencing with the UK government must be overcome immediately.


“UK government ministers urging workers to be careful with their use of PPE are highly irresponsible and will lead to further deaths.


“We need to know urgently, what are the stock levels, where are they being stored and when will they be delivered. This is killing our people.”


UNISON and the Wales TUC are urging any workers with any PPE concerns to get in touch. UNISON has an online PPE alert reporting tool and the Wales TUC an online whistleblowing hotline


Notes to editors:

Letter sent to the First Minister:


I am saddened to have to write to you in the strongest terms about the inadequacy of supply to frontline staff of appropriate PPE.


The senior lay activists have instructed me to contact you as a matter of urgency as they are literally being inundated with very scared and anxious workers who have not received the equipment which will save their, their families and patient lives. 


This follows the first death of one of our activists in the community branch from Covid-19.


I have even seen posts on social media of medical staff having to wear goggles from the science department of the local school. Betsi Cadwaladr say they only have PPE supplies to last them until Monday. 


We need to know urgently, what are the stock levels, where are they being stored and when will they be delivered. This is killing our people.


We need an honest response now.


Tanya Palmer

Regional secretary


Notes to editors:

- UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.

Media contacts:

Tanya Palmer M: 07961 043 885 E: 
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E:

Jenny Griffin As part of our commitment to supporting vital key workers through this crisis UNISON Cymru Wales is offering a free Covid-19 e-learning course to our social care members and workers in Wales, funded by the Welsh Government’s Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF). Working in partnership with ‘e-Learning For You’, an established provider of […]


Our offer of free online training Covid-19 for our care worker members was covered by the South Wales Argus (scroll to 12.01pm in the rolling coverage) and the Morning Star. Project manager Jenny Griffin was quoted.


Please see below advice about accessing the training.


Advice from the UNISON learning team

Some people have reported trouble clicking on the link to access the Covid-19 e-learning. There are a number of different links you can use (all of which should take you to the application form):  



If these links do not work:

Firstly, please ensure you are not using Internet Explorer – please ensure you open the link in Edge, Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.


Secondly, some users are being directed to an ‘Outlook Web App’ page when they click the link from within an email originally sent from UNISON’s system.  If this happens, please can you physically type the address directly into your web browser (not Internet Explorer as above), rather than clicking the link.

Remembering our colleagues, fighting for change

As coronavirus spread around the world and hit hard in the UK, we knew that, because of the jobs they do, our own members would be losing their lives in the fight against COVID-19.
Tragically this has started happening now and our members – whether they're on the frontline of the fight or not – are dying in this dreadful battle.

Read Dave Prentis’s blog on the issue
There for You – there for all our members in a time of crisis
A call to arms: how your branch can help There for You help members hit by crisis and loss of money.
Find out how your branch can help
Helping your members find help: point them to our benefits calculator
Coronavirus: latest advice and updates
Personal protective equipment
We have had an incredible response to our PPE alert and we are representing your views – and in particular those of our members in the care sector – when we talk to government.
PPE alert – tell us what's happening at your work
Coronavirus: learning for UNISON members and activists
UNISON learning and organising has moved many courses online and entered into new partnerships to support members. If you are a union learning rep, lifelong learning co-ordinator or branch education co-ordinator, please forward information on to your members.
Find out more
Back to the scrubs
UNISON branch secretary goes back to work as an operating department practitioner to help tackle coronavirus crisis.
Back to the to the frontline
National nursing officer Stuart Tuckwood returns to the NHS.

Here are the posters and the most up to date PPE info 

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Testing increase welcome, but government must be careful not to overpromise, says UNISON


Commenting on the announcement by health secretary Matt Hancock today (Thursday) that the government is aiming to conduct 100,000 tests by the end of April, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: 


“Testing is key in the fight against the virus. It’s clear the UK isn’t doing enough. We can’t waste another minute.


“But the government must be realistic about what’s possible and not overpromise. Delivering over the coming weeks will be crucial to how both frontline staff and the wider public view the government’s ability to manage the crisis.


"Many NHS and care staff at home in isolation want to be tested. They're frustrated that the lack of testing kits is preventing their return to the frontline. Speed and accuracy are now of the essence.”


Note to editors:
- UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.


Media contacts:
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: 
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E:


Welsh nurse's heartfelt plea for more personal protective equipment so they can return to families 'unscathed' after pandemic, UNISON Swansea Bay Health branch's Libby Nolan video featured and regional secretary Tanya Palmer quoted, Wales Online.


Welsh heath and care workers have no access to PPE, Unison Cymru says, regional secretary Tanya Palmer quoted, Morning Star



Health workers feel 'actively discouraged' to protect themselves over PPE supply fears, references open letter from healthcare workers endorsed by UNISON, ITV Wales

CORVID 19 Frequently Asked Questions


Self Isolating

Typical Questions 

I have an underlying health conditions should I be self isolating?

My Partner/child has an underlying health conditions should I be self isolating?

I am aged over 70 should I be self isolating?

I am in at risk group as identified by the UK Government should I be self Isolating?

I am pregnant, should I be self Isolating?



If you have an underlying health conditions and you are not sure about attending work go to for guidance then speak to your line manager.

Do not contact Occupational Health!



Typical Questions

What is the situation with PPE?

We think we need more or better PPE?

We have no face masks available in our section what should we do?

Staff in my area are being told not to wear masks as there are not enough to go round.


The Health Board is receiving large amounts of PPE on a daily basis. The situation within the Health Board is being monitored and reviewed daily. If you think your area has insufficient PPE speak to your line manager.




Ive been told that I will have to work in another area, do I have to change where I work?

Ive been told that I will have to work on another site, do I have to change sites?



We are in unprecedented times which means that the Health Board has to change and evolve to meet the challenge of Corvid 19, this will often mean redeployment of staff to meet the demand and it is expected that staff will cooperate where possible. If you have issues about a proposed redeployment speak to your line manager in the first instance.


Change of duties


I’ve been told that I will have to do different and unfamiliar work is that right?



Given the challenge of Corvid 19 which we all face, this will often mean staff are asked to meet the demand by being flexible and adapt to the necessary changes, it is expected that staff will cooperate where possible. Staff will not be expected to work beyond their pay grade! If you have issues about a proposed change to your work speak to your line manager in the first instance.


Working from home


The government has said that everyone who can should be working from home, does that apply to NHS staff?

I don’t see patients why can’t I work from home?


Working from home


Child care issues

I have young children and no one to look after them while I’m in work what should I do?




As NHS staff you are identified as a Key Worker by the UK government and therefore schools will be open for your child even though all schools are technically closed for the foreseeable future. Check your Local Authority website for details about provision for your child.


Please keep checking the website for the latest factual updates!


Unsocial hours payments


The Minister has agreed the reinstatement of the unsocial hours payments from day one for a temporary period and to enable the release of the ‘held’ back pay. 

pastedGraphic.pngREGIONAL HEALTH COMMITTEE  1/2020

(This is an occasional Newsletter for Branch Secretaries in Health)


Sick Pay (25th March 2020)


Update for all Regional Health Committee delegates:

Due to the current situation regarding corona virus, the Health Minister has agreed to the reinstatement of the unsocial hours payments from day one for a temporary period.  The Minister has also agreed to enable the release of any ‘held’ back pay. 

We will be working with Welsh Government to update the FAQs and to arrange for release of the payments.

Student Nurse 

England have agreed guidelines for Student Nurses which were circulated last week.  We are currently awaiting confirmation of the position in Wales.



We know that there are problems about PPE and Tanya Palmer our Regional Secretary, is daily letting the Welsh Government know our concerns.  Can you let us know if your members face further problems over the next week.

Donna Hutton, 

Acting Head of Health

27 March 2020




Commenting on the problems in provision of personal protective equipment, Tanya Palmer, UNISON Cymru Wales regional secretary said:

“Health and care staff across Wales are extremely concerned about the provision of personal protective equipment.


“They are frightened and anxious that it is not yet in place, placing them and their families at risk. This is adding to what is already a stressful working environment.


“A lack of protective equipment risks the spread of the virus amongst the staff who are trying to protect us all. 


“Welsh government guidance is clear and employers must do more to ensure staff at the forefront of the fight against the virus are as safe as possible. 


“UNISON is trying to establish the scale of deficiencies across Wales and will present these findings to Welsh government as soon as possible. 


“It's imperative we give our public service workers every protection they need as they go about their vital work.”



Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales press officer 07816 53 83 97  


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the COVID-19

Health and local government, including social care. (England Only)


You will know that during the COVID-19 pandemic the provision of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to workers providing public services is an extremely important issue causing concern to many members.  

UNISON has received reports of shortages of equipment across sectors, particularly in social care.


The Department of Health and Social Care has now confirmed a phone number and email address for the National Supply Disruption Service (NSDR).  The following information applies to health, local government and social care providers.

  • Health and social care providers should order their supplies is the usual way, through usual channels.
  • If the health or social care provider cannot obtain the necessary supplies, they can escalate that to the National Supply Disruption Response service (NSDR). This is a disruption resolution service and while it can provide some limited supplies, it is not an ordering line for PPE.
  • The NSDR phone number is: 0800 915 9964  
  • The email address is (Emails will be answered within one hour)

Where UNISON is made aware of shortages of PPE, the employer should be strongly encouraged to contact the NSDR to report the shortage and request resolution.


We are seeking clarification on whether or not employees can report issues directly to the NSDR and we will update this advice as soon as we have this information.


Government advice on PPE can be found here:


Social care: 


For UNISON sector specific advice on PPE, see these links:

Healthcare workers 

Social care workers  

Local government workers: 


Letter signed by healthcare workers

1000 NHS workers appeal to Welsh Government for ‘urgent steps’ to tackle coronavirus, references UNISON and TUC support, Nation.Cymru


Welsh Government announcement on PPE

UNISON welcomes provision of personal protective equipment pledge from health minister to combat coronavirus, regional secretary Tanya Palmer quoted, Leader

Five more people with coronavirus die in Wales, taking nation’s total to 22, Tanya again quoted, Express and Star

Working in healthcare through COVID-19
An update from Sara Gorton, UNISON Head of Health

Dear Members

First off, I 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.

Secondly, I wanted 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.
Read our latest key messages for healthcare workers

We are prioritising:

1. Measures to ensure all staff across the UK get properly paid during any Covid-19 related absence (including bank and contractor staff).

2. Urgent action to address ongoing problems with availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where we have taken your concerns right to the top of government.

3. Testing for staff so that you can work knowing you are not putting patients or your own family at risk.

4. Measures to help health staff such as waiver of hospital car parking charges and a call to business to offer up empty spaces for you to use.

Read latest update on Welsh government action on PPE
Read our call for businesses to let health staff park for free
We have also been working with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), together with professional leaders and governments on temporary registration arrangements. These will allow students and recent former registrants to join the workforce. Our priority has been to ensure that this is a voluntary initiative, and that students and returners are properly trained and supported. We are also negotiating around employment status, pay and scope of practice for these groups.

Finally, we are having to adapt how we do our work to these extreme circumstances. But what we do will continue to be shaped by the healthcare workers you and other UNISON members elected to lead the work of the union in our sector.

Thank you for reading this email – I know how busy you are and what pressure you are under, but I thought it was important to remind you that UNISON is here for you.


Bookmark our regularly updated Covid 19 advice page

Best wishes,

Sara Gorton
UNISON Head of Health

Letter to health secretary urges him to communicate on kit shortages

Christina McAnea urges staff to use new hotline for reporting kit issues 

UNISON and coronavirus
Dave Prentis
UNISON members keep services going during the lockdown

“Whatever comes next, we have to keep going. And I know we will,” writes general secretary Dave Prentis.

“It is hard to continue to find the words to express what an extraordinary time this is. Coronavirus is disrupting the lives of all of us.

“We are witnessing true public service every minute of every day during this crisis. Thank you.”

Read Dave Prentis’s blog
Press release: ‘We must all abide by the lockdown rules’
Coronavirus – your rights at work (updated)
Guidance for health and safety reps
Coronavirus – personal protective equipment
SGE elections paused; NEC by-election cancelled
Coronavirus: UNISON helping members financially
UNISON is responding to the national coronavirus crisis by offering practical help to members experiencing financial hardship.
Read the full story
Find out more about There for You and the help it offers
Helping activists and members with online training and learning
UNISON is setting up an online system to continue key training for activists during the current crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Read all about it
While you're helping the nation, UNISON is working for you
Like our members, your union is working around the clock to reduce the impact of the virus.
Read the full story
Keep up with the latest news and updates
Keep in touch Facebook Twitter YouTube

Dear UNISON member, 




We are writing this email to you as a member who works within the health sector in Wales and we want to do our best to support you at this time.  


Last week, UNISON and the Wales TUC united with campaign group C19 Action Wales calling for urgent action for NHS Wales workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are calling for all our members working in the health sector in Wales to sign up to the campaign.


The campaign is calling to:

·         Institute mass testing and tracing or all NHS workers and their families, as well as staff such as care workers in other front line services with vulnerable groups;

·         Urgently supply adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for all NHS staff and others working with suspected cases, from Doctors, to carers and porters;

·         Introduce routine testing of all current and new inpatients;

·         Create an agreed, standardised admission route for assessment and testing of anyone presenting with respiratory/COVID-19 symptoms at all front line medical services   and specialisms, not just GPs and A&E (i.e. mental health services, paediatrics and radiography);

·         Institute an immediate ban on all non-essential hospital visiting;

·         Ensure NHS staff are being advised on safe working and are able to take rest periods to avoid burnout;

·         Immediately suspend hospital accommodation fees for staff;

·         Immediately requisition all private healthcare facilities so they may be used to treat the sick;

·         Urgently order and/or manufacture new ventilators on an industrial scale;

·         Draft healthcare workers with ICU experience into hospitals;

·         Produce an urgent strategy for staff recruitment and rapid training, passing emergency legislation if needed. 


UNISON is in regular discussion with Welsh Government on these issues and we will continue to campaign to ensure you are supported in the vital work you are undertaking. If you are able to, please sign up to the campaign. The more people who sign, the stronger our voice.


Finally, we are witnessing true public services every minute of every day during this crisis. For all you are doing - thank you. 


Yours sincerely, 


Tanya Palmer 

UNISON Cymru Wales Secretary


Assistance for healthcare workers



NHS staff describe ‘dangerous’ shortage of intensive care beds amid coronavirus outbreak, (references UNISON's backing of the letter signed by 50 healthcare workers), ITV Wales. 


Same story on Wales Online, again referencing UNISON's support for the campaign, Healthcare workers in Wales call for 'urgent steps' to support frontline NHS staff

Thursday 19 March 2020

Student nurses willing to help NHS but need proper support, says UNISON

Responding to the publication of draft guidance today (Thursday) on the use of nursing students to help the NHS cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said:

“Never before has the NHS faced a challenge on this scale. Combating the coronavirus requires unprecedented measures.

“Making sure the health service has as many staff as possible is paramount.

“Many student nurses want to make their skills available at this time of exceptional need. But in a way that’s as safe as possible for them and patients.

“Under these changes, final-year student nurses can offer to support the NHS on paid placements and join a special section of the nursing register.

“But they must be able to return to learning and complete more supported clinical placements, if needed, once the crisis is over.

“The long-term future of the NHS must also be protected. That means not rushing anyone into becoming a fully qualified registered nurse.”

Notes to editors:

- UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Anthony Barnes T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07834 864794 E:
Liz Chinchen T: 0207 121 5463 M: 07778 158175 E:

Covid-19 update for health branches from Sara Gorton, 
Head of Health

I appreciate the enormous challenges you will be dealing with right now as dedicated healthcare workers and union activists. I hope it will help to know that we are receiving daily messages from members of the public asking us to pass on thanks for your outstanding efforts keeping services running and patients safe and cared for.

We are working hard to get responses to the issues and concerns you have been raising on behalf of your members. We are having intensive discussions with NHS system leaders in each of the four countries and at the UK level.

Below is an update from these discussions in England – branches in Scotland, Cymru/Wales and Northern Ireland will also find this information useful although you will receive more specific updates directly from your regions.

In the meantime, you have our assurance that we are here to help you in these difficult times. We might not know the answers straightaway, but national and regional colleagues are on hand to provide you with support during the next difficult weeks and months.

Please continue to take care of yourself and others

Head of Health



Primacy of infection prevention and control 
NHS system leaders are stressing the importance of infection control experts leading decision-making at organisational level, including guidance on when Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be worn and the allocation of existing PPE stocks. Health and safety reps should be involved in risk assessments and making sure local issues are escalated to those in charge.

Staff health, safety and well-being
Government advice to the public on isolation and family quarantine applies equally to healthcare staff. You should not be put at higher risk than patients or the general public. That includes the advice for people with complex health problems including immunosuppression; at risk groups due to age and underlying health conditions; and advice for pregnant women. Detailed advice from the Chief Medical Officer for pregnant women is imminent and will apply to pregnant healthcare staff.

If you have queries or problems locally it may be useful to refer to this
 detailed advice on health safety and well-being for workforce leaders produced with input from UNISON and other NHS unions.

Personal Protective Equipment
We know from your reports that in places there are problems with the supply and provision of PPE. This has been recognised by NHS England and more central control is being put in to ensure local shortages can be addressed as quickly as possible. This includes a helpline for employers to raise supply issues.

There is limited capacity but this is being scaled up rapidly to roll out testing for healthcare staff, with systems for prioritisation of critical staff first which will need to be managed by local leaders. In the meantime the general public advice about self-isolation and infection control precautions applies for all staff.

A test for immunity is also in rapid development so that it can be used with healthcare staff when ready.

School and nursery closures
Plans are being developed to help key workers access childcare provisions so that they can remain at work. We have asked and received assurances that eligibility will be as wide as possible for health and social care staff.

Pay, terms and conditions issues during the crisis
We are pressing for clear and consistently applied NHS guidance about pay rates for staff absent from work for any Covid19-related reason. We expect this to be available shortly and we will update branches in the coming days.

Coronavirus pandemic – message from Sara Gorton, Head of Health

Planning and managing the rapidly changing response to the Covid-19 outbreak is having a huge impact on the work of the NHS. 

The measures that the Government will introduce for the management of the next phases of the response are likely to also impact on our ways of working within the union at all levels. 


Read the latest update from UNISON’s Head of Health

Coronavirus Guidance and Advice from the UHB

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Continuing Professional Development and Lifelong learning survey

UNISON has been working with other organisations to produce a set of continuing professional development and lifelong learning principles to be applied across the health and social care workforce. 

This document was launched in January 2019 and the organisations involved in this work have put together a survey to assess its value and impact.

Learn more

Recruitment/Engagement Event


All Recrutment/Engagement events have been suspended for the forseeable future!


You can still join online or by asking your local rep.


This is good news for NHS workers. It is only right those helping to care for us when we are in poor health are fairly paid

3 March 2020

Coronavirus Q&A

As the virus spreads and continues to dominate the news, we have all your work-based coronavirus questions answered


Advice published to reassure staff and public but alert them on need for vigilance

Coronavirus guidance for hospitals and staff published

Guidance for hospitals and NHS staff about the risks posed by the Coronavirus has today (Thursday) been published by NHS employers and unions.

The advice is being circulated across the UK. It seeks to ensure that every part of the NHS is fully prepared should any patients with suspected Coronavirus (Covid-19) require a diagnosis or treatment.
The aim is to ensure staff know exactly what to do with individuals who are 
concerned they have the virus and how to treat infected patients, with minimal risk to themselves.
The guidance also seeks to reassure both health employees and the public, alerting everyone to be vigilant to prevent the wider spread of the virus.

UNISON branches and staff sides should be involved at local level, working with their employer to ensure that the guidance is shared widely, and that staff know the detail of their local plan and how to lower their own infection risk. If you have concerns that are not being addressed by your employer, let us know

Read the guidance on the NHS Staff Council webpage
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‘I want to thank you and through you all UNISON members,’ Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford says as he welcomes community delegates to Cardiff

Nursing the nation
2020 is the international year of the nurse and midwife. UNISON is planning a week of campaigning in May to celebrate  the work that nurses, midwives and nursing associates do every day.
Check out our campaign page for ideas and resources


Our new branch app is now available for i phone and android devices. 


Scan the QR code below to download.




App created by

Woman looking stressed because of money worries

January can be the worst month for money worries. And whether it's dealing with overspending at Christmas or coping with longer-term financial problems, the stress of coping day to day can take its toll. But as ever, your union can help.

Start getting help now

If you’re struggling with debt or money worries, call UNISON Debtline on freephone 0800 389 3302.

Friday 6 December 2019
For immediate release

Mission to see a GP is no laughing matter, says UNISON

The stress and anxiety of trying to get a GP appointment is at the heart of a new short film from UNISON.

Join the queue takes a tongue-in-cheek look at a situation that’s all too familiar – frantically trying to contact the surgery the moment the lines open.

As a clock counts down and the tension builds, a family is poised over landlines, mobile phones and online booking systems trying to be among the lucky few to get an appointment.

With their young daughter feeling ill and the clock finally striking 8am, there’s a brief moment of hope as the call connects. Moments later, crushing disappointment fills the room as a recorded message tells them they’re number 57 in the queue.

Although the film is humorous, it does touch on a truth that for many getting a GP appointment is increasingly difficult.

Almost a decade of funding cuts to the health service are to blame, says UNISON.

The video is launched as the UK prepares to vote in a general election with the future of the NHS in the balance.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Nine years of Tory cuts have ravaged the NHS, with decisions made in Westminster affecting families’ daily lives across the country.

"Hospitals with ambulances stacked up outside have huge staff vacancies and hard-working employees are frazzled trying to fill the gaps, while patients face long waiting times in A&E when they can’t get a GP appointment. Everyone who works for and uses the NHS can see how the government has squeezed our health service. 

"When walking into polling stations next week, people should think about the NHS and the improvements that are desperately needed.” 

Notes to editors:
- The film is available on YouTube.
- UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors. 

Media contacts:
Garfield Myrie T: 0207 121 5546 M: 07432 741565 E:
Anthony Barnes T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07834 864794 E:

General Election Message from Sara Gorton, UNISON Head of Health

I know that the election results in England and changes to the Westminster Government will leave all of us feeling bitterly disappointed and worried about what the new parliamentary maths will mean for our members, the union and the NHS. 

The health service was high profile in all of the election campaigns, and the decade-long failure of the Government to fund the service properly, encourage new staff into health roles and tackle the worst aspects of workplace culture was evident to all.

I know it feels like a disheartening path ahead, but there is loads to do to make things better for those who use and work in the health service.

Our job as the biggest and best health union will be to hold the Tories to all of the promises they made during their campaign.

So let’s use the rest of 2019 to recuperate and regroup in 2020 to deliver for all of our brilliant health members. 


UNISON Safe Staffing Forum March 2020

Staff in the health service are under more pressure than ever before. With over 100,000 vacancies across the NHS in England alone, staffing levels are often pushed to the limits of safety.
UNISON is the leading trade union in the health service and has been at the forefront of demands for safe staffing levels.
Our health team are running a forum for nursing family members on 3 March about our safe staffing campaigns.
The forum will provide an opportunity for members from all parts of the nursing family to come together to hear from a range of expert speakers and participate in workshops to help in formulating UNISON’s policy and campaigns.
Places are limited and we will be aiming to ensure a diverse attendance.

Register now

New government must deliver on health service promises


Our NHS is not for sale 


Every healthcare student should be offered grants, and tuition fees scrapped.


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The new UK living wage

NHS pay agreement in England and Wales falls short

The new UK living wage was announced by the Living Wage Foundation this week.

It will be £9.30 across the UK and £10.75 in London. Employers registered as Living Wage employers have until May 2020 to implement the changes.

The Foundation Living Wage is distinct from the legal minimum wages which are £8.21 for workers aged 25 or over with lower rates for younger workers and apprentices.

Both Labour and the Conservatives have announced minimum wage policies ahead of the general election. The Conservative pledge is to reach a minimum wage of £10.50 by 2024 for workers aged 21 or over. Labour’s pledge is for £10 for all workers, regardless of age in 2020.

In 2018 NHS unions led by UNISON broke the Conservative government’s hated public sector pay cap with a three-year pay deal that won the living wage for over 100,000 NHS staff – the largest group of workers to ever win that in one go. The pay deals in England, Wales and Scotland gave rises of £2,000-£2,600 for the lowest paid NHS staff, which at the time took them above the Living Wage rate.

However, the new Living Wage rate means the NHS pay agreement in England and Wales falls short, as the lowest rate for Band 1 and 2 will be £9.21 from April 2020. The lowest rate in Scotland will be £9.45. Staff in Northern Ireland are still fighting for the full pay deal.

Work is underway to prepare for when the current deals end in 2021. Going into the next pay round measures to continue bearing down on low pay and ensure that the NHS exceeds the Living Wage will be a high priority for us.

We continue to campaign for the NHS pay deal for all health workers.


What have unions ever done for us?

In 2018 NHS unions led by UNISON broke the Conservative government’s hated public sector pay cap with a three-year pay deal that won the living wage for over 100,000 NHS staff – the largest group of workers to ever win that in one go. The pay deals in England, Wales and Scotland gave rises of £2,000-£2,600 for the lowest paid NHS staff, which at the time took them above the Living Wage rate.

We’ve stopped the Health and Care Professions Council 18% fees hike!

Our campaigning work has stopped the Health and Care Professions Council from imposing a massive 18% fee hike on health staff.

Our campaign, which included thousands of you writing to your MPs asking them to oppose the fee increase, has forced the HCPC to reconsider the level of increase and to revise its proposals.

Read more about our campaign

Cardiff and Vale UHB to offer free nextbike membership to its staff

Friday, 8 November 2019
Cardiff and Vale UHB has been a keen champion of Cardiff’s bicycle sharing scheme, nextbike, since its launch in May 2018. 
Now, the health board is taking the next step in its partnership with nextbike by offering its staff free membership to the scheme thanks to part-funding from UNISON’s Cardiff and Vale Health Branch.
The mission of Cardiff and Vale UHB is simple: “caring for people, keeping people well.” It means that the UHB considers it to be its responsibility to not only treat people when they’re ill but also do everything it can to help people stay as healthy as they can for as long as possible.
This ambition extends to its staff and the UHB, strives to ensure that staff are looked after and empowered to make healthy choices wherever possible. A variety of projects, from the Employee Well-being Service to ensuring that healthy options are available in the hospital restaurants, are constantly being developed to help staff be as healthy as they can.
mike nextbike
Staff members at Cardiff and Vale UHB are not immune from the wider determinants of health that affect the rest of our population and issues such as air pollution and sedentary lifestyles are key amongst them.
By working with nextbike, the UHB can address both of these issues by encouraging staff to travel actively to and from work, which will in turn reduce the total amount of emissions that it, and its staff, produces.
In April 2019, Cardiff and Vale UHB was one of fourteen public sector organisations in Cardiff to sign the Healthy Travel Charter and offering its staff free membership to nextbike is just one of a number of actions that will be taken to promote active travel and reduce emissions.
The health board is able to offer 1,500 members of staff free membership thanks to the generosity of UNISON’s Cardiff and Vale Health Branch, who provided half the funding, while the UHB provided the other half.
Memberships will be offered to staff in gradual tranches, on a first-come-first-serve basis. The first cohort of 130 memberships will be available soon as a pilot, in order to ensure that the process for staff to use the scheme is smooth and without any barriers.
Abigail Harris, Executive Director of Strategic Planning at Cardiff and Vale UHB, said, “This is a significant step towards a more sustainable future for the UHB. By encouraging our staff to cycle to and from work, and to meetings on different sites during the day, we’re working to reduce the amount of congestion and air pollution on our hospital sites as well as keeping our staff active and healthy.”
“I would like to sincerely thank UNISON for their generous contribution and to the UHB’s Capital, Estates and Facilities Team for securing nextbike stations at our University Hospital of Wales and Woodland House sites.”
Stuart Egan, Lead Health And Safety Representative (Trade Unions) for Cardiff and Vale UHB,  said, “The Cardiff & Vale Health Branch are proud to have provided half of the funding for this project to ensure that staff members are supported to make healthy choices such as cycling to work. I look forward to seeing many more of the UHB’s staff members cycling to work in the near future but I would encourage them to be safe and wear a helmet and high visibility gear, especially when riding on the roads.”
Sam Coldham, nextbike Business Development Manager, said: "We're always keen to speak with organisations large and small to see how working with nextbike could benefit their workforce, so we're delighted to be partnering with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board to deliver this scheme.
"The Health Board has been a vocal nextbike supporter since the scheme launched, so it's great that so many of its workforce will be able to enjoy nextbike membership for free. By cycling instead of taking the car, staff will not only improve their personal health but will also help with the important challenges of reducing carbon emissions and congestion across the city."
Staff can apply for free nextbike membership here:

Make your voice heard. How to make the NHS the Best Place to Work – a new engagement resource


The NHS has released a new engagement resource to help organisations speak to their staff about making the NHS the best place to work.

Earlier this year, the interim People Plan set out how it would engage with staff over a ‘Core Offer’ for all people working in and across the NHS. The ‘Offer’ aims to strengthen the NHS Constitution, treating staff fairly, equally and create a working environment that is supportive, inclusive and offers personal and professional growth.

It’s time to get our members’ voices heard. Visit our UNISON NHS People Plan website for more information, tools and resources.

UNISON NHS People Plan

A letter sent to NHS HR Directors and ICS Workforce Leads from the NHS People Plan team, launching the engagement resource, asks organisation to engage with staff and local partnership forum. There are a number of ways to feed views in.

There is an online portal which is for direct feedback from organisations on their engagement activities, priorities and ideas on what ‘system’ level these should be addressed at – local, regional, national.

Individuals can also feedback via the Department of Health and Social Care ‘Talk Health and Care Platform

Finally, branches can engage via Twitter, using #ourNHSPeople

Making the NHS the best place to work — engagement resource


UNISON has concerns about a Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) consultation on a new set of proposals to introduce pension flexibilities for senior clinicians. UNISON is concerned about a number of the proposals, most notably that the flexibilities will be limited to senior clinicians only.



The 'Save Barry Hospital Ward' petition is live on the Welsh Government website. Please take a moment to sign and join our campaign to defend the Hospital ward."

UNISON members can also get extra support for learning. UNISON offers support for members around, English, maths, IT skills, on-line learning and communication skills.

Don’t forget your individual circumstances too. If you get state benefits these may be affected if you move to band 2 and earn more money.

It’s a good idea to check with
the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau before making your decision.

If you decide not to go for band 2 now, you can always change your mind in the future. And you will still get your £194 lump sum payment (pro rata if you are part time) this year. Your earnings will also be protected to make sure you don’t lose out through any change to your unsocial hours payments.

If you want more information you can speak to your line manager or your UNISON rep, or check out our webpages at

Not in UNISON?

Join today at or call us on0800 0 857 857 or ask a UNISON rep for an application form.

Published and printed by UNISON, UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London NW1 2AY. CU/April 2019/25514/4076/UNP 15474.


Dear Colleague,




Nine Welsh local authorities have already signed up to the Robin Hood Tax. Is your council one of them? We want all UNISON Cymru Wales branches to encourage their councils, AM and MP to sign up to the Robin Hood Tax, which could potentially deliver millions of pounds for public services in Wales.


Robin Hood Tax resources are attached for your use.


The PowerPoint presentation is also attached and below is a link to the councillor’s hub with model motions and briefings etc.


With best wishes,


Dominic MacAskill 
Regional Manager Rheolwr Rhanbarthol 
The Courtyard / Y Libart 
Wind Street 
Swansea / Abertawe 
SA1 1DP 
Phone / ffon: 01792 483918
e-mail / e-bost:



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