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Old news is better than no news

19 July, 2012

Author: Warren Town

Pile of newspapers

Shock horror from the BBC – a consortia of Trusts in the South West are to break away from Agenda for Change (AfC) and attempt to go it alone.

The impact of this news may have been all the more pertinent had it not been for the fact that this had already been announced in the press a month ago and had been known to local staff side for much longer. It could be argued that with so little new news about the NHS, the BBC decided to dredge up something, anything, to keep health care on the boil.

It is by no coincidence that the Labour party has jumped on the bandwagon and cried unfair. The problem is that Labour cannot cry ‘foul play’ when it failed, in fact, opposed embedding AfC into legislation and insisted that there had to be Trust freedom to determine some variation to terms and conditions for staff. This did not include items such as sickness and basic pay, which has been hinted at by Depratment of Health spokespersons who snidely stated that this freedom has always existed; moreover any freedoms were limited to vary some terms and not designed to undermine confidence in service provision or morale.

The problem is that we hear little about quality and much more about value for money and deficits. Of course, it is important to be cost effective, but does it make sense that you penalise your core asset, the staff, to achieve this objective?

And does it make sense that you threaten staff with job insecurity to ensure compliance?

The consortia champion partnership as the means to initiate change, while at the same time threatening employees with the sack if they fail to comply. And so partnership is a one way street for the consortia, which makes a mockery of joint working.

The unions in the South West, including the SoR, are well aware of this threat to our freedoms and rights and are gearing themselves up for a fight.

The folly of this approach by this consortium is that it becomes a distraction from the real objective or working together to build a service for the patient.

It is all very well for the Government to feel smug about the attack on staff and the unions and it is a bit rich of Labour to take the moral high ground after they introduced PFI, choice and the private sector, but what is often forgotten by the politicians as they try to line their election pockets is that staff treat patients and patients expect a service – local pay and threats on staff will not deliver this.

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