Unison Glasgow Clyde & CVS Branch 

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UNISON NHSGGC and CVS NEWS – COVID-19

17 March 2020


Dear member,


These are unprecedented times as the world struggles to cope with the impact of Coronovirus (COVID-19) with the impact most keenly felt on our NHS, care workers and the most vulnerable in our community.

I wanted therefore to drop you a short email saying thanks for all your work and commitment and to offer some initial advice.


So firstly – THANKS! Wherever UNISON members are, they work hard giving their time and commitment to public making our communities safer and ensuring that people are cared for in their time of need.  I am proud to be a public service worker; a member of UNISON and your Branch Secretary.


Secondly, I’m not going to copy and paste all of the various pieces of advice out there. Our membership is too diverse and the picture is changing quickly, sometime by the hour. What I can say is that UNISON members should continue to take advice from their employers; Gvt websites https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance


and other official sources such as



Because UNISON NHSGGC and CVS Branch is an employer too we have taken steps to reduce the risk of infection and minimize unnecessary travel for our members of staff.  Therefore our local resource centers, including our site at QEUH will be on reduced opening hours for the foreseeable future. If you need advice and assistance contact your local steward or reach out to UNISON by phone 0141 331 4450 or email nhsbranch@unisonglasgowclyde.com


The union is also engaged in regular talks with Gvt and major public sector employers to ensure that their response to the crisis has an appropriate worker focus.


Finally I want to talk about last nights announcement by the UK and Sct Gvt that vulnerable people should socially distance themselves. This advice has caused some confusion with people who fall into the category of ‘vulnerable’ unsure about what this means for work.


To the best of our knowledge the advice, currently, does not suggest that people shouldn’t go to work (unless they have; or live in a household where someone has symptoms)-if you are a ‘vulnerable’ person speak to your line manager in the first instance – take advice from HR and ask for a risk assessment if you are unhappy. At this stage, as an absolute minimum people who are vulnerable should be having their potential for exposure to COVID-19 limited. This might mean a temporary move to another department or if you are able working from home.


I have copied some of the UK guidance note and a link to the page.


Finally, I am sure that the next few weeks and months will be challenging. Be assured that your union is with you every step of the way and I remain committed to ensuring that services to members continue to be as normal as possible.


Yours

Cathy Miller

Branch Secretary


Social Isolation – Vulnerable People- summary


The UK Gvt guide advises:

We are advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.


This group includes those who are:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
  • chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
  • diabetes
  • problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
  • a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
  • being seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)
  • those who are pregnant

Note: there are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are in this category, next week the NHS will issue advice on the more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and others safe. For now, you should rigorously follow the social distancing advice in full, outlined below.


People falling into this group are those who may be at particular risk due to complex health problems such as:

  • People who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication
  • People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment
  • People with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets)
  • People with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)

What is social distancing?

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce the social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

They are:

  • Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough;
  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible; 3.Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information;
  • Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
  • Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.
  • Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is pragmatic.

For those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, we strongly advise you to follow the above measures as much as you can, and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible.


This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

 

Update on impact of pensions following firefighters pensions legal case

UNISON reponse to media coverage at QEUH

Background

• On 20 December 2018, the Court of Appeal in Lord Chancellor v McCloud (and others) held that in relation to the judicial and firefighters’ pension schemes, transitional provisions introduced in 2015 gave rise to unlawful age discrimination. The matter is now being discussed at Employment Tribunals to determine a remedy for claimants.

• During December 2019 case management discussions (CMDs) have been held in respect of the judiciary, police, fire fighters and Ministry of Defence police.

• The government has agreed an interim declaration with claimants in the case management discussions for the judicial, police and MoD police claimants. The declarations mean that the claimants are entitled to be treated as members of the appropriate pre-2015 schemes.

• The government intends to extend the same treatment to all members of the public service pension schemes (whether claimants or not), including the NHS Pension Scheme, who are in the same legal and factual position as the claimants. However, this is not straightforward as simply returning all relevant members to the pre-2015 schemes would cause detriment for some members of public service pension schemes as there are hundreds of thousands of individuals who were in post as at the 31 March 2012 that are expected to be better off in the new schemes. This will particularly be the case in the NHS Pension Scheme.

• It’s important to remember that the courts found that the transitional protections that were introduced as part of the move to the 2015 scheme were discriminatory not the scheme itself. Hence, it is entirely possible that NHS 2015 scheme members who have been discriminated against and are potentially allowed the opportunity to move back into their previous 1995 or 2008 Section could find that at some future point they will still be required to move to the 2015.

• Changes to legislation will be required in order to eliminate the discrimination identified in the public sector pension schemes. These changes will be subject to consultation prior to implementation.

Next steps

• The NHS scheme advisory boards that cover the England and Wales scheme, the Scotland scheme and the Northern Ireland Scheme are due to meet over the coming weeks.

• The process for compensating NHS scheme members who have been discriminated against will be discussed at these meetings.

• Once more information is available on how compensation will be applied this will be circulated to branches.

When we have more information, we will advise if any decisions affect our members and keep you informed of any actions members may need to take.

In response to the frequent high profile reports in the media of issues at the QEUH, our Assistant Branch Secretary Frances Carmichael has made the following statement:


“The trade unions are working with management to support the staff as much as possible but the constant media attention and political football is having a significant impact on staff morale.


“Our staff work very hard to deliver the best care they can to patients as that is first and foremost their priority but when you wake up every morning to another report in the media or the politicians using their place of work to score points against each other it makes their job even harder to reassure their patients that they are safe to come into the hospital.”


Frances added, “There is a lot of good work going on with great outcomes for patients and we need to get that message out there.”

UNISON Reacts to removal of drinking water fountains

Matt McLaughlin UNISON Regional Organiser, has contacted the director of estates for clarity on the current drinking water situation. Below is a copy of the email. We will update members when we receive a response:


Dear Tom,


I have received a significant number of contacts from UNISON members and activists concerning the Boards decision to remove drinking water coolers from the workplace, on the basis that the ‘tap’ in these coolers represents a risk to health from infection control and the nature of stored, uncirculated water similarly presents risks to health.


Further we expect that NHSGGC will work with UNISON to identify areas where water is safe but not palatable to ensure a sensible outcome.


I look forward to hearing from you.


Matt McLaughlin

UNISON Scotland