STOCKPORT STRIKE – No to NHS & council merger

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Nurses on the ‘Our NHS’ demonstration in central London – in Manchester health and council workers are striking against the merger of their services
Nurses on the ‘Our NHS’ demonstration in central London – in Manchester health and council workers are striking against the merger of their services

A ‘NEW care model’ in Stockport, Greater Manchester, has sparked a 96% ‘YES’ vote for strike action among Unison members. The strike will take place on Friday April 27.

Workers are up in arms at plans to dissolve the hospital Trust and merge it with the council, having ‘a single Accountable Care Organisation’. The move will effectively merge Stockport Foundation Trust and Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group with Stockport Council.

The project is called the ‘Stockport Together Vanguard’. Workers warn that this will mean that support workers will be given potentially dangerous tasks like administering controlled drugs, even though they are not trained to do so.

Wendy Allison, Unison’s North West regional organiser, said: ‘The plans involve piling more duties on to unqualified workers.’ She said that this includes: ‘tasks like administering controlled drugs such as morphine. This is unfair to staff and potentially dangerous to patients.

‘If the proposals are introduced, our members fear someone could die or be seriously harmed. ‘Staff are very dedicated to their work and to their patients, and it is for that reason that they have reluctantly decided they have to take strike action. To avert a strike, Stockport Together managers urgently need to take staff concerns seriously and come up with a safe and sustainable alternative.’

Unison represents 230 council and NHS staff involved in the Stockport Together Vanguard. The project has been allocated £23m of ‘transformation funding’ over four years by national and regional leaders.

Anna Athow, retired surgeon and BMA member commented: ‘The arrangements of Stockport were given the green light by the Greater Manchester Devolution board, “Devo Manc”, initiated by George Osborne, Jeremy Hunt and Simon Stevens on 27.2.15.

‘This was an experimental non-statutory body bringing together 10 local councils, five CCGs and providers and NHS England, to implement “new models of care” so as to promote more care in the community and reduce hospital outpatients and A&E attendances in order to save millions of pounds.

‘In practice, it is now apparent that this means employing less qualified staff at the expense of fully qualified staff, dismantling safe services and putting patients at risk. The union has quite rightly taken a stand to stop this and must be supported, as these same plans for so- called “integrated care” are being promoted all over the country, as part of the governments’ privatisation reforms to break up the NHS.’