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Mental health care workers vote for strike action over increase in hours

MENTAL health care workers in the north-west of England have voted to strike against bosses’ plans to make them work seven days a week.

Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust has asked the workers, who help “extremely vulnerable people,” to “volunteer” to increase their working week from five days to seven days, their union said.

The 25 workers, who are members of the public service union Unison, are campaigning against the proposals, warning that “seven days is not safe.”

Unison North West regional organiser Lyndsey Marchant said: “This group of dedicated mental health workers are determined to provide high-quality care to those who need it most.

“This is exactly why they have voiced their opposition to the trust’s flawed proposals, which would stretch an already overloaded service to breaking point. 

“This group of NHS workers’ overwhelming vote in favour of strike action shows the strength of feeling on this issue.

“We call on the trust to listen to its front-line workers and return to the negotiating table with proposals that provide its hard-working staff with the resources to deliver excellent care.”

The workers said in a statement: “We work with extremely vulnerable people who have experienced a first episode of psychosis.

“We are telling the trust that the service is so overstretched that asking us to spread across seven days is not safe without additional staffing and resources.”

No dates have been set for strike action and Unison said that, following the vote, more talks with management are planned.

Juliette Tait, associate director of HR at the Trust, said: "Throughout the pandemic, we have been supporting the delivery of seven-day community services in Manchester to ensure that the right support is available at the right time for all who need it. We have received great support from our staff to enable this to be delivered safely and effectively.
"Patient safety is our number one priority. A seven-day community mental health service offer for Manchester is key to this, and directly responds to the dynamic needs of our service users, which occur on every day of the week. This is already successfully in place across our other localities and follows national guidance.
"Following implementation of seven-day working in our Manchester services, we have supported all our staff who were originally contracted to work over five days to remain doing so.

‘We have no intention of forcing any member of staff to change their working pattern unless they wish to do so on a voluntary basis to support their own personal flexible working needs.

"We continue to engage with our staff and their representatives in relation to this matter, and remain immensely proud of the service our staff provide."


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