Trade Union Representation on Foundation Trust Boards

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2008 Health Care Service Group Conference
14 December 2007
Carried as Amended

Doncaster & District Health Branch firmly believe that the current basis of the composition of Foundation Trust Boards is not conducive to good partnership working as Trade Union Representatives are not allowed on these Boards in any formal capacity. Guidelines issues by the Department of Health confirm this position and the branch is concerned that this can limit or act against the concept of partnership working which applies at every other level in the NHS. We also consider that it limits the transparency of the decision making of the Foundation Trust Boards and can hinder the maintenance of good industrial relations.

If allowed to go unchecked this situation potentially undermines Trade Union involvement in decision making and allows Foundation Trusts to impose decisions which may be detrimental to staff and services in those Trusts without any opportunity to influence decisions before they are taken.

The branch therefore consider that Trade Union involvement in Foundation Trust Boards is necessary in order to have a voice in the decision making process at the highest level. We understand, however, that Trade Union Representatives in these Board positions could be subject to all sorts of pressure and potentially compromised if they have full voting rights. Conference is therefore of the view that any positions held on Trust Board by Trade Union Representatives should be of observer status with speaking rights only. These Trade Union Board members must also be able to report back to their constituent members and not be gagged by inordinate use of “confidentiality” measures in respect of Foundation Trust Board decisions or discussions.

The branch therefore calls on the Health Service Group Executive to seek urgent discussions using all appropriate mechanisms (eg, Labour Link, Staff Council) with the Department of Health/Monitor to address these issues and achieve the inclusion of Trade Union representation and involvement on Foundation Trust Boards. Representation should be on the basis of a minimum of two Trade Union Representatives on each Board but with provision for more dependent on the size and geographic spread of the Foundation Trust.