Shift Review Communication
We recently wrote to NHS 24 via the Employee Director regarding the concerns you have raised with us in relation to the shift review. Below is the communication from us and the response we received (in Bold).
Following the issuing of correspondence directly to our members a number of issues have came to light which have been highlighted by members which require to be resolved before the Shift Review work can proceed further.
1. Organisational Change
The principle agreed by the Trade Unions is that pay protection would be in place for any rota offered by the organisation to staff with the exception of a voluntary reduction in hours. This is not clearly articulated in the letters sent to staff. Secondly, an additional letter has been sent to some staff from Katie Buchanan stating that they would be asked to work to the level of protection and therefore were not matched to the rota currently worked stating this was in line with the change in organisational change policy from STAC implemented in April of this year. This was not discussed with the Trade Unions and is certainly not in keeping of the spirit of the agreement as it was a prospective rather than retrospective view. If need be both David and I will write to STAC for clarification on the issue. We expect that all staff that were TUPE over will stay on their existing rotas.
The issue of protection has been discussed at various points throughout the review and the position of the trade unions has been clearly articulated and understood. The communication to staff in roadshows and individual feedback, as well as the matching letters does not contradict that but merely sets out the voluntary decision that staff would make and the implications for them of that decision. Nothing has been issued to staff by the shift review group without discussion at the shift review group and, where appropriate, CLO to clarify the legal position. The letter from HR as regards organisational change pay protection dated 2nd August, merely reflects the NHS circular and is in regard to previous pay protection arrangements for clarification to a small number of staff, as opposed to any falling out of this shift review.
As regards TUPE staff, we did clarify the expectation with the CLO and their advice is that the requirement is to consult with staff, which has been done Our view is that TUPE staff should be offered the opportunity to align with other staff so that they can receive the same level of flexibility through swaps and maximise the use of the mobile app when it is deployed. . Feedback from those staff through the roadshows has also indicated a strong preference amongst this group to take advantage of the opportunity to review their shifts along with other staff and, indeed, we felt it would be remiss not to offer these clinical staff the opportunity to have offline huddle ‘safety brief’ and CPD calendar inbuilt into their schedules, and to be matched into teams in line with the wider organisation so that they can avail of group learning activities and share best practice.
The final issue regarding contracted hours has been clearly communicated to affected staff in the matching letter sent to them 2nd August, as below:
You are currently working contracted hours which differ to the majority of staff
within NHS 24. As part of the Shift Review process you have the opportunity to
change to one of the more standard hour groups. If you wish to request this
voluntary change please indicate this in Section 2 and note your rota choice in
Section 1 from those included. If you wish to remain on your current contracted
hours then please indicate this in Section 3 and we will be in touch to
discuss this further’
Many staff have highlighted this through the roadshows and in individual emails to the shift review team and have been made aware of this. The matching letters have been further tailored for them to explain fully the process they need to go through in requesting a change to hours or in highlighting where they wish to continue to work their current contracted hours within a standard shift rota; this is the purpose of the panel and we would ask that you support these staff in encouraging them to use the proforma as set out above to facilitate that further refinement of their rota.
It is noted that the Team Managers, Senior Charge Nurses and Clinical Services Managers did not receive an advanced copy of this letter which has given rise to staff who had queries being not being given an appropriate management response and in some occasions directed to the Trade Unions. There were also a number of other additional letters sent to some staff that were not sighted by either Trade Unions or managers. Concerns have also been raised that the tone of the letter was not helpful as it indicated that if staff failed to respond a rota would be selected for them.
There has been significant engagement with frontline managers at every stage of the process including away days and specific briefing for all CSMs on the matching process and timescales. All managers were sent the letter at the same time as yourselves, however, there was an issue with a VPN which was not realised until Monday, at which point the email was resent. This was an unfortunate technical issue as opposed to any deliberate intent, and there has, as I say, been extensive engagement with frontline managers throughout.
Members have indicated they were confused in what they were being asked to sign up to and what to do if they could not accept the rota. It has also been communicated that staff feel uncomfortable in a situation where a panel consists of 4 senior managers and we would request that that be reduced to 2 managers in order to provide a balanced table.
The panel and review process was agreed by the shift review working group on the 4th July. It was our preference that trade union colleagues would be part of that panel, however, we acknowledge the view that this could compromise any subsequent representation for staff. The shift review group felt it was important to reflect the operational, resource planning and HR implications, hence the recommended membership of the panel, reflecting the key contributors to the shift review process. I think it is important to acknowledge that our expectation, and indeed the evidence from the returned proformas thus far, is that where staff wish a change to their contracted hours, this could be reviewed by the panel without any need for formal attendance or representation. Where staff are unable to accept any of the options then there may be a requirement to attend a review meeting, however, this would be dependent on the individual situation and circumstances. Again, we would ask that you encourage staff to complete the proforma so we can accurately assess the level of activity for the panel in the timescales we have set out in August.
A number of members have indicated that their specific needs have not been addressed and that the rota does not reflect a working pattern that in any way resembles the current rota. This coupled with staff being requested to make additional journeys to and from work(due to shorter shifts being given) , night shift only members and compression of hours for very part time workers has not been well received. Staff do not believe their views have been taken into account.
As you are aware there has been a significant amount of engagement with staff throughout the shift review process. A key objective from the start has been to balance the needs of patients with those of our staff. Staff have informed the parameters applied in developing the rotas, both the standard rotas and those reflecting the requirement for a rota review. We have been clear in all communication with staff that we cannot sustain a situation where we have in excess of 950 rotas for 1400 staff and this has been well understood and accepted throughout. Feedback from staff through focus groups, surveys, roadshows and the shift review email inbox has all demonstrably influenced the rota options developed. The final matching process has been done on an individual basis for each member of staff fairly and equitably and has incorporated individual issues raised where this has been done by staff.
The matching letter proforma gives yet another opportunity for staff to discuss individual circumstances by completing section 2 or 3 as applicable to them. I am unclear in what way this fails to take on board the views of staff or prohibits them from highlighting any issues they wish to be taken into account. Again, I would ask that you support and encourage staff to complete the proforma on that basis as I know you have done.
5. Finally some members have been sent the wrong rota completely for the hours contracted and one member received 2 letters. The Trade Unions would seek assurance that this is not a data breach in terms of GDPR.
As you will appreciate the logistics of the matching exercise have been significant, including the considerable effort to issue letters to staff within the timescales agreed by the shift review team. This was an important commitment to meet given the scheduled implementation in October to allow staff sufficient notice. If there are issues with letters received by staff can I ask you to provide details of these and we will investigate accordingly.
Given the issues and concerns raised we request that a review of the communications is undertaken and NHS 24 retracts the correspondence to staff and the process is paused until these issues have been addressed.
A meeting was held on the 8th August 2019 (Yesterday) between the joint trade unions, their full time officers, the Director of HR, the Director of Service Delivery and the Shift Review lead. The written response above was received before yesterdays meeting. The outcome and further developments of meeting will be shared with all staff over the next few days.
We are advising all of our members to use section 3 of the pro-forma if the rota options sent are not workable, do not meet your needs for health requirements, disability or caring responsibilities. We would again encourage you to take time to reflect on the options before sending your response.