For the first time in its 106-year history the Royal College of Nursing has balloted for strike action. In addition, Unison, Unite, GMB and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists members have also voted in favour of action as well as the Royal College of Midwives in Wales (England did not secure a sufficient turn out). It’s clear that the combined effect of the pay increase and the current cost of living crisis where many workers are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living, has prompted workers to vote with their feet in the pay dispute with the government.
Junior doctors in England are also planning to ballot in January over a pay deal which will give them 2% this year. Given that the current rate of inflation is over 10% and pay deals are a considerable way off this, it clear that staff see the existing offers as being an effective pay cut.
This will no doubt be of concern to NHS employers who are already battling with a staffing crisis at a time when demand for service is squeezed beyond comprehension. Latest data shows that NHS England is operating short of almost 130,000 staff due to unfilled vacancies (a vacancy rate of 9.7%). Further, 50% of workers in health and social care have said that the government approach on pay has made them more likely to leave their job in the next one to three years. This in in addition to winter pressures with experts predicting that this winter will be the worst on record for the NHS.
In light of these pressures below we set a reminder of some of the key lessons from previous industrial disputes for boards to consider over the coming months:
Use of Agency Staff
Since the last period of national industrial action in the NHS the law has changed so that employers can use agency workers to replace those who strike. However, in response to a period of national industrial action, employers should consider the use of agency workers carefully so as not to bring greater employee relations issues running the risk of the local employer’s actions becoming the focus of a new dispute with the workforce.
Strike action is usually a last resort due to negotiations breaking down and is used as a bargaining tool by the Union, therefore the ability of an employer to backfill for striking workers seriously undermines the action which then risks exacerbating industrial relations even further. For this reason, employers may be reluctant to engage agency workers.
Employers must also ensure that any agency workers engaged are suitably qualified to meet the obligations of the role they are undertaking. As the action is national it is unlikely that there will be a ready supply of agency workers suitably qualified to backfill roles. In addition, some agencies may be reluctant to supply their workers given it will effectively undermine the action and could place their workers in a hostile environment. Further, workers themselves may not be prepared to cross a picket line so may refuse the assignment.
There may also be an increase in alternative forms of industrial action, such as working to rule or go slows, which are harder to cover using agency workers. Although such action may not have the same immediate impact of a strike, they can be equally as disruptive to employers as they may take place over a prolonged period of time given that employees taking part still receive some of their pay.
It is also worth noting that judicial review proceedings in relation to the new Regulations have been commenced by 11 separate Unions, co-ordinated by the TUC, which could result in the new Regulations being deemed unlawful.
The BMA is advising all NHS / HSCNI consultants to ensure extra-contractual work is paid at the BMA minimum recommended rate and to decline offers of extra-contractual work that doesn't value them appropriately.
NHS England has published (October 2022) new guidance - Assuring and supporting complex change: Statutory transactions, including mergers and acquisitions.
NHS England has issued an updated (publication 11 October 2022) suite of Complex Change guidance about how it will assure and support proposals for complex change that are reportable to it. New and (where it is still in force) existing Complex Change guidance are as follows.
Created at the end of the Brexit transition period, Retained EU Law is a category of domestic law that consists of EU-derived legislation retained in our domestic legal framework by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. This was never intended to be a permanent arrangement as parliament promised to deal with retained EU law through the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill (the “Bill”).
It is clear that the digital landscape, often termed cyberspace, is a man-made environment, in which human behaviour dominates and where technology both influences and aids our role in it — through the internet, telecoms and networked computer systems, which are often interdependent. The extent to which any organisation is potentially vulnerable to cyber-attack depends on how well these elements are aligned.
In Mogane v Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) considered whether it was fair to dismiss a nurse as redundant on the basis that that her fixed-term contract was due to expire before that of her colleague.
Three months on from the commencement of the new statutory Integrated Care Systems (ICS) Anja Beriro and Gerrard Hanratty reflect on the main themes and issues that have come from the new relationship between local government and health.
The majority of people do not feel the need to embellish their CV to get that coveted position and move on up the career ladder. Their worthiness and benefit to the hiring organisation are easily demonstrated through the recruitment process – application, psychometric testing, selection day or interview.
On Saturday 15 October a wave of light swept the internet when thousands of people flooded social media with pictures of candles to remember the babies that they have lost. This event signifies the end of Baby Loss Awareness Week which aims to break the silence that is associated with baby loss in pregnancy and infancy.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 allowed any registered medical practitioner to sign a medical certificate of cause of death (“MCCD”), even if the deceased was not attended to during his or her last illness and not seen after death, provided that the medical practitioner could state the cause of death to the best of their knowledge and belief.
In our latest Shared Insights session, Focus on Emergency Medicine, chaired by Jennifer Fagin and Amelia Newbold, we were pleased to be joined by: Dr Alex Crowe, Deputy Director Incentive Schemes & Academic Partnerships, NHS Resolution and Consultant Nephrologist and Miss Susie Hewitt MBE, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust.