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Friday 25 November 2016

MiP Conference: “Finance is crushing everything”

By MiP
Conference panel picture
MiP’s workforce panel (left to right): MiP chief executive Jon Restell, Victoria Phillips from Thompsons Solicitors, Newcastle University’s Dr Madeline Carter, John Skewes from RCM and Sheree Axon from NHS England. (Photo: Stefano Cagnoni)

Four workforce experts joined MiP’s conference to discuss the challenges facing the NHS – including bullying, employment rights and pay – and how we can make the NHS a better place to work.

Dr Madeline Carter of Newcastle University explained that it was important to tackling bullying as an issue of organisational culture rather than individual actions.

“Managers shape culture. They are really critical,” she said. Effective organisations had top management who “walked the walk” and engaged with staff. She suggested job descriptions should include reference to managers’ role in creating a better workplace culture. 

Victoria Phillips head of employment rights at Thompsons Solicitors, said Brexit was a looming challenge which could sweep away many employment rights, such as limits on working time and protection for workers transferred under the TUPE regulations.

The question for the government was to decide “which of these rights they care most about to find Parliamentary time to protect”, she said. “It’s very important for managers to start that dialogue with trade unions and get their collective view on how some of these issues will be resolved.”

Jon Skewes policy director at the Royal College of Midwives, said the most pressing problem was the level of funding for health and social care which meant finance was “crushing everything” at the moment.

Skewes explained that unions were calling for the NHS Pay Review Body to award rises 1% above inflation, rather than 1% in total. But pay was not the only issue. “We know midwives and many other groups are suffering intensification of work,” he said, and employers were less willing to consider flexible working arrangements.

Sheree Axon director of organisational change at NHS England, said 400 staff had been through one of its support programmes for women managers. A thriving women’s network, backed by trade unions, was supporting women with professional and personal development in an increasingly fragmented system. 

“We all have a contribution to make. We have a fantastic voice and we don’t want to be overlooked,” she said.

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