We are living through unprecedented and dramatic times which has seen Covid-19 claim the lives of tens of thousands of our fellow citizens, and more than 500 NHS and social care colleagues.
The pandemic still rages on, however, and we would like to say an enormous ‘thank you’ to all of you who selflessly stepped up to combat coronavirus at great personal risk to yourselves.
As specialist nurses, your skills have been key in the NHS’ once-in-a-generation response. Many of you have held health visiting and school nursing services together demonstrating flexibility and versatility, as you drew upon all your skills and accumulated reservoirs of specialist knowledge.
Many others of you have converted these skills to familiar public health roles such as ‘test and trace’, while others have returned to areas where there was a shortage of skilled practitioners, such as ICU nursing.
But as we look to the next stage in the battle of containing and eventually defeating this deadly virus when a viable vaccine comes on stream, we also need to reinforce Unite/CPHVA’s voice on your trust or board committees when they discuss the restoration of services in the ‘new normal’.
We need to proclaim the mantra: ‘Nothing about you, without you’ when it comes to health visiting and school nursing services.
But ‘thank you’ is sometimes not enough. NHS staff have heard warm ministerial words and Thursday evening clapping and now want the government to take this opportunity to make a commitment on pay and resources.
Unite has written to the prime minister Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak asking them to bring forward NHS pay talks, because this can’t wait until the current three-year deal ends in April 2021.
But, in parallel, we need a strong and enduring voice in this emerging post Covid-19 NHS. We, as your professional and trade union organisation, are increasingly concerned that decisions about you and our services are being made without the contribution that your expertise and experience merit.
The issues that need your input are wide-ranging, whether it be personal protective equipment (PPE), office and home safety, or the restoration of services to families and children.
We know that our current dedicated workplace reps are working tremendously hard to speak up for public health nursing, but we need to add to and strengthen their voices at the tables where vital decision are made.
That’s where you come in:
Talk to your Unite/CPHVA reps, join together and organise local meetings. The reps and Unite full-time health team will support you to elect a new wave of CPHVA reps – and let’s get your voice heard on every committee and by every manager in the NHS and local government every working day of the year.
By Unite regional officer Su Lowe and Unite lead professional officer for strategy, policy and equalities Obi Amadi, on behalf of the CPHVA Executive.