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NHS & AMBULANCE STAFF COVID 19 UPDATE - ENGLAND

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)

GMB continues to have concerns about the safety of our members in the workplace, specifically regarding PPE. We continue to hear reports of PPE that is low in quality and protection. GMB has consistently called on Government to review Public Health England guidance and increase the level of protection available to our members working in health and social care.

This issue is a priority more than ever now as we see the effects of a new strain of the virus with higher transmission rates. The Government have a responsibility to do everything in their power now to protect workers.

GMB has contacted Government again calling on them to increase PPE guidance to level 3 for all health and social care workers who need it.

Read a copy of our press statement and the letter.

 

COVID-19 VACCINATION

New operational guidance has now been issued regarding the vaccination of frontline health and social care workers. This provides for an immediate requirement to vaccinate frontline health and social care workers.

NHS Trusts (including acute, mental health, community and ambulance trusts) have now been instructed to establish ‘hospital hubs’ by mid-January with responsibility for the vaccination of individuals. It outlines that priority is to be given to frontline staff at ‘high risk of acquiring infection, at high individual risk of developing serious disease, or at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable persons or other staff in a healthcare environment. This includes but is not limited to:

  • staff working on the vaccination.
  • staff who have frequent face-to-face contact with patients and who are directly involved in patient care in either secondary or primary care, mental health, urgent and emergency care and community settings.
  • those working in independent, voluntary and non-standard healthcare settings such as hospices, and community-based mental health or addiction services.
  • laboratory, pathology and mortuary staff.
  • those working for a sub-contracted provider of facilities services such as portering or cleaning.
  • temporary, locum or ‘bank’ staff, including those working in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, students, trainees and volunteers who are working with patients.
  • frontline social care workers directly working with vulnerable people who need care and support irrespective of where they work (for example in hospital, people’s own homes, day centres, or supported housing); or who they are employed by (for example local government, NHS, independent sector or third sector).

GMB supports the vaccination programme and the prioritisation of vaccination of all health and social care staff. However, we understand there may be reasons why an individual cannot be vaccinated. Individuals should discuss any issues or concerns they have with their line manager and contact your local GMB Representative for support if required.

The Government have published detailed information regarding the vaccine for healthcare workers which we would advise our members to read. It can be accessed at:

COVID-19 vaccination: guide for healthcare workers - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Guidance has also been issued for women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding. It can be accessed at:

COVID-19 vaccination: a guide for women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

GMB’s priority remains in keeping our members safe at work which is why throughout the Pandemic we have been regularly updating our Coronavirus Hub with all the information you need to keep yourself safe.

Get it right! - GMB Coronavirus Hub.

You can also access NHS & Ambulance Service specific advice at: NHS and COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

If you have concerns that you may have contracted Covid-19 in the workplace, please record your details on the GMB Risk Register at: COVID-19 Risk Register

 

ARE YOUR CONTACT DETAILS CORRECT?

It is essential that your membership details are up to date so that we can ensure you are kept up to date with advice and guidance relevant to you.

You can update your details by contacting your local GMB Representative or online using the GMB website at gmb.org.uk/mygmb-edit

 

UNION VISITS TO YOUR WORKPLACE

It will be many months before we see a return to any form of ‘normality’. Covid-19 will still present a danger to health care workers and the people you care for. As a result, it means that your GMB Union Representatives may continue to have difficulties visiting you in your workplaces.

However, we want you to know that we are still here. We are considering a variety of ways that we can get information to you and engage with you on your issues in the workplace. One way to do this is to arrange a virtual online meeting for your workplace.

If you would like to book one of these meetings please contact your local GMB representative or email NHS@gmb.org.uk

 

Date: 12/01/2021

GMB Letter to Secretary of State for Health & Social Care

GMB have written to Matt Hancock raising our members' concerns around the current guidance for PPE in Health & Social Care settings.

Our suggestions included:

"...specifying higher performance face coverings and masks, this should particularly be considered in settings where people are more vulnerable to the consequences of the disease and/or are more likely to be infectious."

"...engineering, procedural and personal controls... [to be] applied rigorously to ensure they are effective."

"Organisations and individuals should reassess their environments in the light of new evidence about transmissibility of the new variant to consider whether they have maximised all the steps they can take to reduce the probability of transmission."

The full letter is available to read here, we will update the noticeboard in the event we recieve a response.

Past Bulletins

Date: 06/01/2021

COVID-19 VACCINATION – ENGLAND

Advice has now been issued to all NHS Trusts, Foundation Trusts, Primary Care Networks and GPs regarding the Covid-19 vaccination programme which states that all frontline health and social care staff should be prioritised for vaccination. NHS Trusts HRDs and local vaccination services are responsible for overseeing the vaccination of NHS staff - frontline staff to be prioritised.

12 weeks is the maximum length of time that should be between the first and second dose and both doses must be from the same vaccine type.

NHS England have a dedicated webpage where you can access all the latest information on the vaccine programme - Coronavirus » COVID-19 vaccination programme (england.nhs.uk)

Statistics regarding the numbers of vaccinations will also be regularly updated at - Statistics » COVID-19 Vaccinations (england.nhs.uk)


COVID-19 FAQ

The GMB NHS & Ambulance Service Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions has now been updated. It collates all of the Covid-19 information and guidance specific to NHS and Ambulance members in one place. Please check regularly for updates and share it with your colleagues.

NHS and COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions | GMB

 

RISK ASSESSMENTS

Employers must carry out a risk assessment, looking specifically at risks of exposure to Covid-19. All steps must be taken to reduce the risk of employees catching the virus to as low as possible. Risk assessments must be carried out by a ‘competent’ person – someone who knows and understands both the workplace and the work. In GMB recognised workplaces, we expect Safety Reps to be consulted on any risk assessment carried out.

Once the risk assessment is performed and the necessary measures are in place, it is critical that the standards are upheld, and the risk assessment regularly reviewed to ensure it is still accurate. During the current Covid pandemic, the situation is changing regularly and dramatically, and three months is too long between inspections and meetings. GMB firmly believes that inspections should be much more frequent, and specific to consider primarily Covid issues.

For most workplaces, a weekly inspection and committee meeting should be implemented, to ensure that any issues identified can be urgently addressed. In some workplace where either the Covid risk is high, or workers are grouped into many cohorts (small teams), it may be better to organise daily floor walks, so that cohorts do not have to mix. Whichever method is adopted, the most important consideration is that issues can be quickly identified and addressed, and the information can be quickly shared with the workforce.  

GMB expects employers to be updating risk assessments in consideration of the new variants of the virus. Please speak to your local GMB Rep if you have concerns about risk assessments in your workplace.

 

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)

GMB continues to have concerns regarding PPE for healthcare workers. Government have informed us that there are sufficient supplies of PPE to see us through winter and the Pandemic. However, this is based on the current Public Health England (PHE) guidance which GMB still does not agree offers sufficient protection. GMB contacted PHE and the Department of Health & Social Care again with our concerns on 14th December 2020. We will continue to campaign for the highest possible level of protection for our members.

 

GMB’s priority remains in keeping our members safe at work which is why throughout the Pandemic we have been regularly updating our Coronavirus Hub with all the information you need to keep yourself safe. You can check it out at: Get It Right | The Coronavirus Hub

 

You can also access NHS & Ambulance Service specific advice at: NHS and COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

If you have concerns that you may have contracted Covid-19 in the workplace, please record your details on the GMB COVID-19 Risk Register

 

ARE YOUR CONTACT DETAILS CORRECT?

It is essential that your membership details are up to date so that we can ensure you are kept up to date with advice and guidance relevant to you.

You can update your details by contacting your local GMB Representative or online using the GMB website at gmb.org.uk/mygmb-edit

 

UNION VISITS TO YOUR WORKPLACE

It will be many months before we see a return to any form of ‘normality’. Covid-19 will still present a danger to health care workers and the people you care for. As a result, it means that your GMB Union Representatives may continue to have difficulties visiting you in your workplaces.

However, we want you to know that we are still here. We are considering a variety of ways that we can get information to you and engage with you on your issues in the workplace. One way to do this is to arrange a virtual online meeting for your workplace.

If you would like to book one of these meetings please contact your local GMB representative or email NHS@gmb.org.uk

 

Not a GMB Member? Join the union for NHS staff today

 More information about being a GMB Representative in your workplace?

Follow and like our Facebook Page – GMB Union NHS Workers

Follow us on Twitter - @GMBNHS

 

Date: 21/12/2020

END OF YEAR ROUND UP

As the year comes to an end, GMB Union wants to thank all of our NHS & Ambulance Service members for their hard work and efforts during the year, keeping us safe and cared for, and for their continued membership with GMB.

This year has been extremely difficult for everyone, but especially for all those who continued to work throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic (Covid-19) providing essential services within our NHS.  We have had to collectively fight from the start of Covid-19 to ensure our members were protected – physically, mentally and financially.

We have made many representations to Ministers and the Department of Health & Social Care, ensuring they knew the reality of what our members were facing on the frontline. GMB has also participated in regular meetings with Department of Health Representatives, NHS Employers and other health unions from the start of Covid-19, ensuring GMB members voices have a platform to be heard.

We have had some successes throughout the year which include:

  • Upgrading of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) guidance and influenced the Government’s taking back central control of the logistics for delivery and supply.
  • Free car parking.
  • Protection of pay for Covid-19 related absences.
  • Extension of full sick pay for outsourced staff.
  • Requisition of private hospital beds.
  • Access to regular testing.
  • Death in Service Life Assurance Scheme for Covid-19 deaths.

It is without doubt that healthcare workers have been consistently failed throughout Covid-19 and that is why GMB will not stop calling for an independent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Pandemic. Unfortunately, that inquiry will come too late for the hundreds of health and social care workers who have lost their lives.

GMB’s priority remains in keeping our members safe at work which is why throughout the Pandemic we have been regularly updating our Coronavirus Hub with all the information you need to keep yourself safe.

You can check it out at:

GMB Coronavirus Hub

NHS and COVID-19: FAQs

 

If you have concerns that you may have contracted Covid-19 in the workplace, please record your details on the GMB Risk Register:

COVID-19 Risk Register

A mental health crisis is looming within the NHS. This comes after years of cuts to services and the inability of the service to recruit and retain staff, which led to a 100,000+ vacancy crisis prior to Covid-19. Almost a year of fighting Covid-19, with little or no time to rest and recover before we headed into the second wave and winter has left many NHS staff unable to cope. If you are struggling, please speak out - we've put some resources together for people seeking help: 

Mental Health Support

 

Covid-19 Vaccination

It is with great relief that some of our elderly population have now been vaccinated. It will take many months for people in the prioritised categories to be vaccinated but we hope to see the vaccination programme roll out speedily and efficiently over the coming months.

Health and social care workers have been identified as a priority group of workers to be vaccinated and we have already started to see NHS staff be vaccinated, although the vast majority will not have access until the New Year.

GMB supports the Covid-19 vaccination programme and would encourage our members to have both the Flu and Covid-19 vaccination. However, this is not mandatory, and we understand that some of our members are not able to be vaccinated e.g. for health reasons; pregnancy; etc. We therefore would expect that no member suffers a financial detriment as a result of not being vaccinated. If you have any concerns regarding this, please speak with your local GMB Representative.

 

NHS Pay

The campaign for pay justice continues. GMB’s pay claim to Government is:

  • 15% or £2 per hour, whichever is the greater
  • One year deal
  • Unsocial Hours Payments when on Sick for all NHS staff
  • Never again should NHS pay fall below the Real Living Wage

Government have now published their much-delayed remit to the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) asking them to make a recommendation on your pay. However, GMB is disappointed with the Government’s misleading use of statistics in the remit letter and potential restrictions placed upon the PRB.

READ MORE

GMB will be submitting evidence into the PRB using the data from the three all member consultation surveys we have carried out this year.

Some of the results from the most recent survey showed that:

  • Over 61% of respondents have considered leaving the NHS in the last six months, with the main reason being stress, pay and workloads.
  • Over 70% of respondents are working additional hours above their contract and almost 14% of those work the additional hours unpaid.
  • There are still Band 1 workers who have not been supported to transfer to Band 2, despite this being a part of the last pay award.
  • 44% of ambulance service respondents have decided not to pursue a promotion in order to protect their unsocial hours payments.
  • There are many Trusts that have started charging staff for car parking again, despite the Pandemic not being over.
  • Almost 31% of respondents do not receive any support or financial protection if they have to take time off work for dependents.

Check out our dedicated campaign website where you can see exactly how much money you have lost in your pay packets since 2010. You can also download and share campaign resources, order campaign merchandise and sign our petition at: We're campaigning for pay justice in our NHS | GMB

 

Are your contact details correct?

It is essential that your membership details are up to date so that we can ensure you are kept up to date with developments in the pay campaign and receive a ballot paper when they are issued.

You can update your details by contacting your local GMB Representative or online.

 

Union Visits to your Workplace

It will be many months before we see a return to any form of ‘normality’. Covid-19 will still present a danger to health care workers and the people you care for. As a result, it means that your GMB Union Representatives may continue to have difficulties visiting you in your workplaces. However, we want you to know that we are still here. We are considering a variety of ways that we can get information to you and engage with you on your issues in the workplace. One way to do this is to arrange a virtual online meeting for your workplace. If you would like to book one of these in please contact your local GMB representative or email NHS@gmb.org.uk

 

GMB Representative Taster Sessions

Have you ever been interested in the role of GMB Representative in your workplace but unsure whether you have the skills or can commit the time? Why not join one of our NHS Rep Taster Sessions? If you’re interested, email NHS@gmb.org.uk and we will be in touch with more details.

 

Lee Mead – Exclusive Ticket Giveaway

Lee Mead is best known for winning the title role in the 2007 West End revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat through the BBCs show ‘Any Dream Will Do’. He is also known for starring in Casualty and Holby City.

As a thank you to GMB key workers he is giving away 1000 tickets to his 2021 tour in England and Wales. You can enter the ballot to win two tickets at: https://bit.ly/3oUK0zj

 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

The Pandemic is far from over as we continue through the second wave of Covid-19 and face the winter pressures. GMB will continue to be by your side throughout.

We hope that you get some time over the Christmas holidays to rest and spend time with your families and loved ones. We wish you and your families a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

GMB Union NHS Workers on Facebook - Twitter: @GMBNHS

 

Date: 14/12/2020

PAY JUSTICE UPDATE

GMB Writes to Government to challenge PPE Guidance

Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer for NHS and Social Care, has written to: 

Public Health England

NHS England

The Department of Health & Social Care 

On behalf of our members in the NHS and Social Care, we are challenging the following areas where the national guidance is inadequate or innacurate:

  • Increasing evidence regarding airborne transmission.
  • Lack of ventilation and social distancing space in many healthcare settings.
  • Increasing numbers of asymptomatic staff testing positive for Covid-19.
  • Incorrect details in the list of what constitutes an Aerosol Generating Procedure.
  • Insufficient protection for staff with a surgical mask.

We will update members in the event we recieve a response or that the guidance is clarified.

 

Date: 09/12/2020

2021

GMB, the Union for NHS Staff, continues to campaign for Pay Justice for all NHS Staff. After a decade of austerity, keyworkers in the NHS have lost out financially and warm words and claps will no longer suffice. Check to see how much money you have lost in real terms here:

HOW MUCH DID THEY PINCH?

GMB has launched a petition to call on the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock, to do the right thing and give NHS workers the pay they deserve. Please sign and share:

PAY PINCH PETITION

Thank you to everyone who took time to complete the third all member GMB survey. There was an overwhelming response and the data will now be collated and used as a part of GMB’s submission into the Pay Review Body.

Thank you also to all those members who expressed an interest in being a GMB Representative and attended one of our Workplace Representative Taster Sessions. If you would like more infromation on getting ivolved in this campaign or being a GMB representative in your workplace, please speak to your local GMB representative or email NHS@gmb.org.uk

Health Unions Coordinated Campaign

GMB continues to work with other health trade unions to lobby government for an ‘early and significant pay increase’ in the form of a fully funded one year deal. We have not received a response from government to our request for them to meet us to negotate this year’s pay increase.

We have now heard NHS workers will be exempt from governments proposals to freeze public sector pay and that a remit will be given to the Pay Review Body to make a recommendation on pay. We still await for the formal remit letter to be issued.

Health unions are continuing to work towards a provisional timeline of 18th January 2021 for written submissions to be made to the PRB and the joint union submission is currently being finalised.

 

Date: 25/09/2020

THE USE OF PPE IN CLINICAL SETTINGS COVID 19

The issue of Personal Protective Equipment in the NHS has been one of the biggest problems faced by GMB members working in clinical settings during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
 
Guidance published by Public Health England has been criticised by many, including GMB, for being insufficient at times and driven by supply and stock issues rather than what provides the best protection from Covid 19 for healthcare workers. GMB remains committed to ensuring lessons have been learnt as we head into winter and a potential second peak.
 
All staff have the right to PPE, irrelevant of job role GMB has campaigned for better protection and access to PPE for all of our members and will continue to do so throughout this Pandemic. PHE guidance is the minimal protection that needs to b e provided GMB expects more for our members.
 
GMB wants to bring to your attention the following key points:
  • Sessional use means 1 worker, 1 shift.
  • The guidance states that gowns or coveralls can be used for an entire session of work in higher risk areas. However, more than one may be needed should a worker have to remove it or change it during the session or if they move between areas.
  • Fluid repellant surgical masks and eye protection can be used for an entire session of work. The guidance for PPE that is suitable for reuse in cases of extreme shortages, is to be reused by that individual only and not shared amongst workers, with appropriate cleaning performed after each use. A detergent product either combined sequentially with a decontamination product should be used to clean the item, rinsed thoroughly and left to dry. However, GMB believes that PPE should be disposed of and not reused in all circumstances and NHS Trusts should be working to ensure there are no shortages in supplies.
  • Reusable face masks should be carefully folded so the outer surface is held inwards and should be stored in a clean sealable bag box marked with the persons name. Fit checks should be performed each time a respirator is donned if it is reused.
  • Hand hygiene shoul d be practiced and extended to exposed forearms, after the removal of PPE.
  • All staff should adhere to social distancing (2 meters) wherever possible.
  • Staff should take regular breaks and rest periods. Breaks should be staggered to limit the numbers of staff in communal rest areas.
It is essential that all health care staff wear the appropriate PPE. When doing so, staff are reminded that they are entitled to take regular breaks, rest periods and increase fluid intake. Breaks should be staggered to limit the numbers of staff in communal rest areas.
 

Date: 11/08/2020

NHS PAY 2021 UPDATE

Contact your MP on the issue of NHS Pay!

Politicians work for you. They want to hear from you about what is important to you. They have a duty to listen and respond.

The easiest way to let them know what you think about NHS pay is to write to them. A physical letter is best as it has the most impact, but an email works too. The most impact comes from you writing in your own words about why you deserve a substantial pay increase as an NHS worker.

Below is a list of points you may wish to consider when drafting your letter or email:

  • If you have been working in the NHS throughout the last decade, tell them about how your pay has been held down for years – and if you have ways of demonstrating the impact that has had on you and your family, tell them. These personal details are so important and really effective.
  • Tell them what it has been like to work in the NHS during the pandemic. If you have had worries and concerns but gone into work nonetheless, tell them.
  • If you are having financial difficulties especially if they are caused by the pandemic and are comfortable telling them about this, please do so.
  • Say that you support GMB’s call for an early and substantial pay rise for all NHS staff like yourself. April 2021 is too long to wait. It should be brought forward into this year.
  • Ask them directly but politely if they support your call for an early and substantial pay rise.
  • If you are in England: ask them specifically to write on your behalf to both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, calling for an early and substantial pay rise for NHS frontline staff. Ask them to sign the Early Day Motion 742: Early Pay Rise for NHS Staff.
  • If you are in Scotland: ask them specifically to write on your behalf to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, calling for an early and substantial pay rise for NHS frontline staff.
  • If you are in Wales: ask them specifically to write on your behalf to the Minister for Health and Social Services, calling for an early and substantial pay rise for NHS frontline staff.
  • If you are in Northern Ireland: ask them specifically to write on your behalf to the Minister of Health, calling for an early and substantial pay rise for NHS frontline staff.

You can find the relevant contact details at:

England - members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP

Scotland - beta.parliament.scot/msps/current-and-previous-msps

Wales - business.senedd.wales/mgFindMember.aspx

Northern Ireland - aims.niassembly.gov.uk/mlas/search.aspx

 
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