NHS: full isolation pay, PPE, carers

Submitted by AWL on 30 March, 2020 - 9:57

By an NHS worker at ELFT

At my workplace, the East London NHS Foundation Trust, we’ve been putting together information on pay for workers following public health advice.

There are many zero-hours and contract workers in NHS buildings, and it wasn’t clear what they would get. We did a couple of weeks’ agitation among all the workers in my workplace — of all grades — and had a prolonged to-and-fro with senior management.

At the end of that we discovered that the Trust already had a policy of full pay if following public health advice for all workers in the building, and then that NHS England had put a policy saying the same thing on 2 March.

We’ve done a public information campaign in my workplace and everywhere else we can reach in the NHS — set up a website at elftworkerssolidarity.org from which you can download posters, promoted an open letter to NHS chief executive Simon Stevens on the issue.

Now, on 27 March, the NHS repeats the 2 March policy on the “NHS Employers website”.

“It is essential for infection control purposes that staff members who are told to self-isolate, do so as quickly as possible. NHS England and NHS Improvement wrote to chief executives on 2 March 2020, stating staff should receive full pay whilst in self-isolation. This includes bank staff and sub-contractors, who have to be physically present at an NHS facility to carry out their duties”.

That should clear the way for full isolation pay for all, but in many places it will still take union pressure to secure it.

There’s an issue with home care workers. I’ve been told by my management that I, as a community mental health nurse, should limit face-to-face contact with my patients, but I know that private-sector carers are still visiting those patients (who depend on the visits) with little protection.

By an NHS nurse in an acute hospital

As of 26 March, the policy of full pay while following public health advice for zero-hours and agency workers was not being followed by our Trust. Between 2 March and 27 March, there was another NHS England document which was equivocal on the issue. The posters from elftworkerssolidarity.org have been useful for campaigning on the issue.

The other big issue in our hospital is the shortage of PPE.

By an ambulance worker

My workmates and I don’t work within a building, and since we have fairly high density in the service we don’t have many zero-hours or contract workers. Our cleaners, for example, are all in-house, and are getting full pay like the rest of us.

If there’s an issue there, it’s been a bit of a push-back from management on the theme that “too many” of us are self-isolating. (About 15% have been off).

Shortage of PPE is a big problem for us. We also have an issue about numbers in patient transport vehicles: we say that to minimise risk of infection there should be no more than one patient in each vehicle.

There is a huge problem with home carers. Generally they have no PPE.

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