UNISON calls for better support over lone working

On 8th September a collective grievance originally raised in 2012 will be heard in Norfolk.

UNISON has been calling for supportive changes over lone working – this applies to a small number of our staff, but it is an emotive subject. Many of us know someone who has suffered from issues, or we’ve experienced difficulties ourselves. Whether it’s a run of difficult jobs, an assault, or a personal issue that has affected mental health and confidence, these can all impact on the ability to function as a sole responder.

We have seen casework (some as recent as last week), where staff were forced against their wishes to work on an RRV, or respond solo in an ambulance. In many of the historical cases we have seen, lone worker issues have resulted in staff leaving the Trust, or going sick for prolonged periods. Some of the cases are quite harrowing – with students being forced to respond solo in an Ambulance, and experienced staff being publicly humiliated for expressing concerns about working on an RRV.

Given our Trust’s MIND blue light pledge, as well as two historical collective grievances about this issue, UNISON is asking our Trust to bring in a similar policy used by the West Midlands Ambulance Service. The West Midlands policy empowers staff by giving them a choice over lone working and normalises the issue by acknowledging there are some staff who do not want to be a solo responder. The policy ensures staff are supported and are not subject to victimisation or recriminations.

A number of Branch Officers have recently undertaken training in tackling bullying and harassment, to support culture change in partnership and when needed to challenge behaviours and ensure there’s accountability for actions. We have a number of redacted cases we have permission to publish in our newsletter and we would really like to be able to launch a new lone worker policy alongside that, and show that the Trust is prepared to change it’s culture. We have been trying to work on this in partnership for many months and it’s disappointing that despite the evidence for the need for change, we are having to pursue this through a grievance.

If you have been affected by lone worker issues, please contact your local UNISON representative for support.

We will update you with the grievance outcome as soon as possible.

Kind regards,
Fraer Stevenson
UNISON Branch Secretary

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