Draconian measures…. coming to a station near you…
Last week senior staffside received an email from Robert Morton, CEO, inviting us to a meeting to inform us about a range of actions the Executive team have considered necessary for patient safety.
The actions were described by Robert Morton in his email as ‘measures that may be viewed as controversial, unpalatable and even draconian.’
It’s incredibly disappointing that despite Board level promises, we continue to see no action to address retention issues. A crew in North Norfolk recently worked a 20.5 hour shift; which is completely unacceptable and in no way sustainable.
Positive change can only happen through positive actions and not through nice words and certainly not through measures that ‘may be viewed as controversial, unpalatable and even draconian.’
Earlier this year I received EMB (Executive management Board) papers, though a freedom of information request. One of the papers states:
Mr Robert Morton asked the group if there were areas which could be changed to improve performance. Mr Ashford suggested the following areas; Vehicle Daily Inspections (VDI), end of shift policy and the meal break policy were the biggest areas of concern for both performance and patient safety. He clarified that the staff impact would need managing for any changes in these areas. Mr Morton asked the group to come up with a wish list for later discussion which could be distilled for priorities and evidence provided.
We have the second worse staff retention rate in the UK Ambulance sector, (the worse being the London Ambulance Service); we need to see strong leadership to bring about positive changes and pull us out of the self perpetuating negative spiral we appear to be in. Any negative changes the trust decides to impose on staff that ‘may be viewed as controversial, unpalatable and even draconian,’ will certainly not help the situation.
We had put forwards a range of proposals several weeks ago, which we worked on with HR, to help reduce late finishes and address fatigue; we were told yesterday at the meeting with the Rob Ashford, Director of Service Delivery, that he has been too busy to read our proposals.
To date we have not received any feedback from the Executives on the proposal UNISON cowrote with the Trusts HR Health and Wellbeing Manager.
Our proposals include giving staff an additional 20 minutes undisturbed break and put in place a form of intelligent X-ray, which would genuinely help to reduce late finishes.
Yesterday the trust put forwards alternative proposals, which they want to put in place next week. We have asked if these measures will be ‘imposed’ and have not received any response.
The Trusts proposals remove the fixed meal break points, outline that staff will be stood down for a meal break within 5 minutes after greening up (regardless of travel time to facilities), and completely remove the end of shift policy.
The trust is further proposing to implement, commencing at the end of April, subject to performance improvements, a very diluted form of Intelligent Xray – ‘on a discretionary and individual basis, where they believe a staff member(s) is being exposed to unnecessary fatigue and/or excessive late finishes.’
The trusts proposals then increment at the end of May, to reduce the 45 minute meal break to x2 twenty minute breaks, as well as proposing further staggering of shift and finish times, something the trust has recently already completed – which was sold to staff as needed to help meal breaks and late finishes.
With hundreds of new staff coming into the trust, we had suggested any further shift changes could be planned with supportive/attractive shift patterns and staggered times for new staff – so existing staff did not have to go through yet more shift changes.
We are strongly opposed to the Trusts proposals and fail to see how removing fixed meal break points, reducing meal break times, or removing the end of shift policy will in anyway be helpful to staff. It’s very disappointing that the trust walked away from discussions and instead released this to staff.
It’s also very disappointing that despite the trust agreeing to pull the advert for ECAs and instead recruit student EMT, they have now partly rescinded this agreement and will be recruiting student EMTs as well as 150 ECA level staff.
We will campaign avery hard against any negative changes and continue to push for actions that lead to positive change.
Please add your name to the many hundreds of UNISON members who have supported our indicative ballot over late finishes. The ballot closes at the end of this week: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/latefinish
The Branch Committee is meeting next week to discuss this break down in consultation and next steps. We will keep you updated.
UNISON Branch Secretary