Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of all POA members.


We recently balloted POA healthcare members on the Government’s improved offer to those staff covered by the Agenda for Change Pay Negotiations. Members were offered a one-off cash payment of 6% to settle 2022-23 pay and 5% to settle 2023-24 pay. The POA made no recommendation believing it is down to members to decide whether the pay offer should be accepted or rejected. POA members have overwhelmingly voted to reject the pay offer and have indicated that they are prepared to take strike action. We will now consider our options.

Razors in Prisons

The ‘pilot’ schemes that are trialling electric shavers and more ‘robust’ systems of issuing wet razors are due to conclude shortly and once an evaluation has been completed a decision will be made on the issue of wet razors in Prisons. Electric shavers have been sourced and HMPPS are also looking at a new type of wet razor. We would like to see the removal of all wet razors.

Population Pressures

We continue to see pressures on the Prison Estate due to the Court backlogs being rapidly progressed. The main pressures are in the North West and North East where we have seen Operation Safeguard cells in regular use. We are approaching a critical capacity point. HMPPS are preparing contingencies should we run out of bed space.

Detached Duty

So far, we have enough volunteers to satisfy the increased demand for National Detached Duty with no member of staff, as yet, being forced to attend a detached duty site away from home.

HMP Fosse Way

The newest build Prison HMP Fosse Way in the Midlands (former Glen Parva site) is due to open in June. It will be run by Serco and will have a capacity to hold 1700 prisoners. It is envisaged that once open it will admit up to 40 prisoners per week. 

Staff Fitness Test

A further pause to the staff annual fitness test has been imposed until a decision has been made as to the future of the test. The POA will be consulted, with any proposed changes being subject to negotiation due to the test forming part of terms and conditions for a large proportion of POA members. It is envisaged that the review will be completed by the end of July 2023 with options and a report being presented to decision makers by the end of August 2023. The POA have submitted their proposals to abolish the test in its entirety, as is Conference Policy, and replace it with health screening and lifestyle advice for all staff. The test for specialist staff such as tornado continues.

Pensions Cost Cap court case

You will recall that the POA and other Unions lost the case on the above. We decided to appeal along with other Unions. The Court of Appeal has granted permission to appeal in the costs control mechanism case.

PAVA in the YCS estate

We have been given assurances from HMPPS that a decision on the issue of PAVA in the under 18 YCS estate will be made at some point during the summer of 2023.


All the best.

Mark Fairhurst
National Chair

Representing over 30,000 Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, the POA is the largest UK Union in this sector, able to trace its roots back more than 100 years.