Francis, staff engagement and avoiding redundancies

Fri 11 Jan 2013

MiP's Jon Restell writes his weekly blog of news and comment

Back in harness this week and at once into meetings about the HR transition in the NHS. While masses of appointments were made in December, the fact remains that thousands of people are still without a job and received redundancy notices. Across the system as whole there are likely to be more jobs than people at risk, so there are still opportunities, even allowing for jobs being in the wrong place, and in the wrong specialism. What is required, however, is really strong redeployment activity by employers. To date we've been running a green field recruitment exercise. New bodies and current employers now need to change approach in the next six weeks or so to prioritise at risk staff for appointment to the remaining jobs. This is now a heavy duty redundancy situation.

Transfer scheme talks continue on Monday. It is mindblowingly slow progress (and we need new terms for 'last ditch') but the fact that we are still at the table, seeking a solution, is good.

The editor of the HSJ wrote powerfully yesterday about the year ahead. 'HSJ would highlight staff engagement and morale as the biggest unacknowledged danger facing the service.' He was spot on.

Great managers are aware of the danger and are doing something about it. It is especially encouraging to see a strong preference for partnership working with trade unions among the new bodies created by the Health and Social Care Act. The NHS Commissioning Board, PHE, HEE, and NTDA all have partnership forums in place. CSUs locally are agreeing their arrangements and a new national forum for CSUs (while the BSA hosts them) is about to spark into action. Clinical commissioning groups are also starting to sign trade union recognition agreements. All of this activity reflects the NHS Consitution's emphasis on staff engagement and its relationship with high quality patient care.

MiP is preparing for the Francis inquiry report, expected by early February. Others will be doing the same and the weekend papers were full of briefing. We won't be defensive (management must always be held to account) and we won't play the blame game or score tribal points. Overall the NHS remains a successful and safe public service. We want to keep it that way by learning the lessons of the terrible events at Mid Staffs and taking the necessary steps to prevent any repeat of them. One thing holds true: good management will always be part of the answer when it comes to safeguarding standards of patient care.

Good weekends!

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