Sheffield mental health staff to strike

Mental health staff in Sheffield have voted to take strike action in protest at changes to services which they say have ‘put people at risk’.

Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 1:40 pm
Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Staff at the Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust including mental health nurses, social workers occupational therapists and administrative support voted by 83 per cent to take strike action last month.

The union Unison now says that approximately 200 staff will strike early next year unless trust bosses agree to improve staffing levels and a full service review.

Charlie Carruth, Unison regional organiser and health lead in Yorkshire and Humberside, said the service simply needed more investment.

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He said: "This is not about pay or conditions and not about pensions, it is about the state of mental health services in Sheffield, which is letting service users and the wider public of Sheffield down as well as burning out staff and putting people at risk.

“Senior managers at the trust and the council need to invest properly in mental health services before it’s too late.”

The dispute centres on a 2017 service reorganisation which Unison say has led to unrealistic individual caseloads, longer working hours and inadequate staffing levels.

Unison said the changes have never worked properly and that the service simply cannot cope with waiting lists that will take not months but years to work through.

Staff went into dispute with the trust in February this year and in July, called off six months of negotiations after reaching a stalemate.

The Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust said they were unable to comment on the strike action at this time due to restrictions on public bodies making political statements during general elections.

However, in July, the trust’s deputy chief executive Clive Clarke said they were working closely with employees to identify improvements and investing an extra £500,000 in staffing.

He said: “Since the reconfiguration, the demand for our services has grown by up to 40 per cent in some areas.

“Our teams do an incredible job in tough circumstances. We know that this increased demand for their services has put extra strain on staff.”