Mental Health Officers Action Bring Mental Health Tribunals To A Standstill

Mental Health Officers (MHOs) working for Highland Council are taking action from today in a longstanding dispute over wages. The action will involve social workers who are also MHOs ceasing to carry out MHO duties and MHOs ceasing all overtime.

This will eventually mean that Mental Health Tribunals will cease to function. UNISON, the union for the majority of the MHOs in Highland says that the issues about the unsatisfactory pay for these specialist mental health social workers, and coverage of emergency rotas have been outstanding for twelve years.

Munro Ross, UNISON’s Highland Convenor said “For years now Highland Council have consistently failed to address the need of this highly dedicated and specialised group of workers. Since the introduction of the new Mental Health Act they have had a range of additional duties and responsibilities with little or no acknowledgement from the council about their enhanced role.”

Mental Health Officers are social workers who have undergone specific training in psychiatry. They take additional qualifications and have particular responsibilities under the Mental Health Legislation.

The union points out that MHOs in neighbouring authorities are paid more for this responsibility. They also want recognition of the almost permanent ‘on-call’ cover many have to provide in remote areas – as other Highland council staff receive.

Tommy Campbell, T & G Organiser said “Many colleagues have been on almost permanent call in the outlying areas of Highland with no availability or standby payment or recognition of this fact, and they are deeply frustrated by management’s inability to resolve this issue despite many requests over the years.”