‘Unsustainable’: Health visitors to take industrial action

Health visitors in Wales will take industrial action for up to four months over “unsustainable demands” being placed on them, a union representing the workforce has said.

Unite announced that 67 health visitors at Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board in South Wales had voted unanimously to take industrial action short of strike.

“Unite has made numerous attempts to resolve this with the employer, all of which have been ignored”

Paul Seppman

This will include workers refusing to undertake unpaid overtime, cover for caseload vacancies or report statistics to the Welsh Government.

Unite said this would be the first time health visitors in Wales had taken such measures as a distinct workforce.

Health visitors at Cwm Taf, the union said, had repeatedly asked the board to update job descriptions and had been subject to increasing workloads since Covid-19.

The union further said that health visitors had faced an increase in caseload complexity, unfilled vacancies and above-average sickness rates.

All this together left health visitors feeling their work was unsustainable.

A Unite spokesperson said the health board’s leadership had “failed” to address the job description issue due to a “likely” pay increase for health visitors which would accompany it.

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Unite regional officer Paul Seppman said local members were “disillusioned” by the way Cwm Taf had treated them and claimed there was a “total lack of recognition” of their concerns.

“Unite has made numerous attempts to resolve this with the employer, all of which have been ignored,” Mr Seppman added.

“This is shocking behaviour from the health board which now needs to engage with us and treat their employees with the respect they very much deserve.”

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Our health visitor members at Cwm Taf have seen a massive increase in the complexity of their caseloads.

“Chronic vacancy rates and increased demands means they are prevented from doing their jobs effectively.

“Unite has a laser-like focus on the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and our health visitors will receive the union’s complete support.”

Unite members will begin their industrial action from 26 February, and will continue until late-July.

A spokesperson for the health board said: “We are aware of the concerns raised by some colleagues in our health visiting team. As a service, we are committed to listening to our staff, and continue to engage with these individuals and their trade union representatives, as we have done throughout this process.

“We continue to work with our health visitors to develop a robust job description that meets both the needs of the population and the service.”

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