• Unison says strike planned for 27 April
  • Concerns the changes will involve “piling duties on to unqualified workers”
  • Further difficulties for a project that has already been scaled back

Staff affected by a vanguard new care model in Greater Manchester have voted to strike over the changes later this month.

Unison, which represents 230 council and NHS staff involved in the Stockport Together vanguard, said the decision follows seven months of negotiations. The industrial action will take place on 27 April. The union said 96 per cent of respondents to the ballot voted to strike.

HSJ revealed staff’s concerns in January, which presented further difficulties for a project that has already been scaled back from initial plans to form a single accountable care organisation.

The project partners – including Stockport Foundation Trust, Stockport Council and Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group – have instead focused on establishing integrated community teams working under an “alliance contract” between providers. The project has been allocated £23m of transformation funding over four years by national and regional leaders.

However, union members are concerned about a planned expansion of unqualified support workers, as well as a reduction to the availability of services during peak times.

Wendy Allison, Unison’s North West regional organiser, said: “The plans involve piling more duties on to unqualified workers – including tasks like administering controlled drugs such as morphine. This is unfair to staff and potentially dangerous to patients…

“If the proposals are introduced, our members fear someone could die or be seriously harmed. Staff are very dedicated to their work and to their patients, and it is for that reason that they have reluctantly decided they have to take strike action.

“To avert a strike, Stockport Together managers urgently need to take staff concerns seriously and come up with a safe and sustainable alternative.”

She said talks are due to take place on Monday through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

A Stockport Together spokesman said: “This is about improving services for local people and that is at the heart of our efforts to create a sustainable, quality future for local residents.

“We are therefore disappointed in the response of trade union colleagues after engaging in several productive meetings over the past few months as we look to resolve all outstanding issues.”