Help, guidance and information which we hope you may find useful. Contact the Branch if you have any queries and we will do our best to respond to you as soon as we can. (Please note we are challenged in keeping this page fully up to date. The staff guidance document link immediately below will take you to up to date information).
Removal of Temporary Covid Policies
This letter therefore confirms that the majority of temporary COVID related polices will end on 30 June 2022. Annex A provides a full list of the relevant provisions, for reference.
With regard to COVID Special Leave, transitional arrangements have been agreed which will see the current arrangements end on 31 August 2022, after which staff will move on to their contractual sick leave entitlement. Annex B outlines these arrangements in full.
Updated guidance on self isolation and testing (17/1/22)
New guidance on self isolation and testing
New guidance for pregnant employees
New guidance re return to work from self isolation
New Care Home guidance
New guidance re annual leave abroad:
NHS Scotland employees need to ensure they take account of both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Scottish Government advice in regard to essential international travel. It is vital that every effort is made to prevent new COVID variants from entering the UK. NHS Scotland staff are therefore advised not to travel to an amber or a red list country.
Staff who do not adhere to this guidance will not be entitled to paid leave if they are required to quarantine or self-isolate. The only exception to this will be when a member of staff has to travel abroad for essential reasons e.g. as a consequence of a family illness or bereavement. In these circumstances, special leave or homeworking (if appropriate) will be granted, as appropriate, during quarantine/self-isolation arrangements
Full circular here:
NHS Scotland staff terms and conditions guidance page
Annual leave carry forward
National wellbeing hub for health and social care staff
Fuel support fund
Schools and childcare places guidance
Covid £500 bonus letter and form to apply for payment in installments
New (2/4/20) guidance on PPE
New NHS Scotland staff guidance on COVID
PPE Donations to NHS Highland
Anyone who wants to make a donation needs to email us first (below) with their name, contact details, what they have to donate and the quantity.
Health Protection Scotland guidance
World Health Organisation
Highland community response website
Free online mental health support for staff
National wellbeing hub for health and social care staff
Returners to the health and social care workforce can apply here
Information on RIDDOR reporting on coronavirus
Links/info from UHI
Guidance on contracts for NHS Bank workers
NHS trade unions' blueprint for safe return of NHS services
Dealing with PPE concerns - UNISON member briefing 15/4/20:
Following days of meetings UNISON ensured that the Chief Nursing Officer’s letter re PPE was withdrawn. This means the agreed guidance is still in place. UNISON continues to meet with the employers and government fighting for staff to have the PPE that they need to keep safe.
Staff do have ‘a duty of care’ to patients but they also have a responsibility to their own Health & Safety. Employers also have a duty of care to staff to ensure that they are safe at work and a letter has been issued to remind them of this duty. Staff must stay healthy in order to provide care to patients.
It is unhelpful of RCN to advise their members to just not go in to a care situation if they do not have PPE. This will cause more anxiety for members.
All agreed guidance is available here. The guidance is clear that staff should make their own assessment. UNISON’s current advice is that if members come across a situation where they feel they are not adequately provided with PPE they should;-
Pause: to assess their needs
Escalate: immediately to their manager & wait for responsive action
Revisit: the situation when adequately protected
This is in line with the guidance provided by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
If issues arise members should contact their Branch
UNISON member communication 8/4/20
Staff moving to new roles or duties
NHS Highland is - rightly - putting in place arrangements to enable staff who may be engaged in what are
currently lower-priority roles into other, and often more patient-facing, tasks. Clearly this is a response to what is an international health emergency, and is also in the context of the fact
that quite a large number of staff are already not able to be at work. Many staff have already come forward to volunteer to change roles, and this is very welcome - and a sign of serious
commitment to the vital services which we all provide.
Whilst we fully understand and support the need to do this, we also strongly believe that this needs to happen by agreement, and in full discussion and consultation with UNISON, other trade unions and you (accepting that this may need to happen quickly).
There is national staff guidance (Circular DL(2020)/5 13 March) which applies to situations where staff are asked to undertake different roles/duties, and an extract is included below. I have highlighted one or two key words.
Working at other sites/across board boundaries:
· Home working should be considered, where appropriate and practicable. This may be subject to change.
· In the event of a severe outbreak, staff will need to be deployed into different roles and/or locations and across board boundaries (where this is appropriate).
· Staff should be flexible in relation to their work location and duties and any changes should be agreed with them.
· This will involve the deployment of some non-clinical staff to clinical roles.
· Staff should only be transferred to alternative duties, where they have the skills and competencies to do so, and/or where appropriate refresher training could be provided.
· This is to allow for essential service provision.
· Health Boards should review local agreements on the movement of staff to support a flexible approach to COVID-19.
· Managers should identify staff who have skills that could be used but are not currently using them, or have generic skills that could be used, if the services they currently provide are suspended.
· Provision for deployment at other sites and across board boundaries must comply with the health, safety, security and risk management arrangements.
· Staff should be reimbursed for additional expenditure such as travel, subsistence and accommodation, in line with existing arrangements and policies.
· Further guidance on working at other sites/across board boundaries can be found in the Adverse Weather Policy.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Branch (tel 01463 715891, email email@example.com) if you have any concerns or issues in regard to this. We are here to help and support you.
UNISON member communication 26/3/20:
All of us are now facing unprecedented times. And UNISON members in particular given the vital nature of our jobs in health and social care.
We all need to play our part in terms of following government guidance about isolation (if required) and remaining at home otherwise.
At work it's vital that staff are appropriately protected, both in terms of work processes and procedures, risk assessments, and the right personal protective equipment (PPE) where this is required. Those who can should work from home. If you are in the kind of job where this might be possible, speak to your manager in the first instance so you can agree suitable arrangements. If you are in one of the vulnerable categories, it is likely that you may require to self-isolate. NHS Highland has been clear - through an email from the Chief Executive - that those in the vulnerable groups should either not be at work, or do what work they can from home. If you are in any doubt about this, contact your line manager as soon as possible. If you need further advice please contact your UNISON representative.
Although most UNISON reps are also in very busy jobs, our usual arrangements for contacting a rep remain in place, so you can either phone the office on 01463 715891, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If telephoning you will be asked to leave a message, so it would be really helpful if you could speak slowly and clearly, leaving your name, telephone number, job title, workplace and a brief outline of your query.
We are also striving to keep our Facebook page, Twitter account, and website as up to date as possible as well.
UNISON continues to be here to support you. We must all come together at this very difficult time to do what is safe for ourselves and our families, and the vital services for patients and clients which are required now, more than ever.
We also need to protect our own health, both in terms of direct response to the virus, but also bearing in mind the increased importance of other health and safety aspects such as working hours, breaks and holidays, and psychological good health. Of course at the moment 'holidays' will need to be taken at home!
If you have any concerns, please get in touch, and UNISON will do all it can to support you.
Meantime we are working with NHS Highland at a number of levels to help ensure that appropriate information is provided, and staff health and wellbeing is protected.
We're not forgetting about the vital work also carried out in the voluntary/independent sector, and would urge members with any employer to get in touch if you need help or advice.
Good luck and best wishes!
Janette McQuiston - Retiring Branch Secretary
Dawn MacDonald - Incoming Branch Secretary
NOTE: The newest documents will be added at the top of the list below:
UNISON letter to Cabinet Secretary regarding testing strategy
UNISON guidance for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) workers
Guidance on the deployment of Health staff to community settings - 28/4/20
Health and wellbeing guidance for staff 10/4/20
NHS Highland PPE guidance for care homes
NHS Highland PPE guidance for community nurses and AHPs
New PPE poster what to use in what circumstances
Scottish Government letter re PPE for Health and Social care staff
Staff risk assessment for "At risk" groups
NHS Scotland staff guidance
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