A UNISON campaign to protect the jobs of over 10,000 NHS staff has been backed by the new University Hospitals of Northamptonshire (UHN) NHS Group.
A signed agreement which lasts until the end of 2024 recognises the contribution made by NHS workers during the pandemic and aims to ensure job security under the merger of Northampton General Hospital and Kettering General Hospital trusts.
Mark Smith, chief people officer for UHN, signed UNISON’s job protection agreement to show his commitment to safeguard the employment of staff and offer reassurances as the new group model moves forward.
UNISON is urging other health employers across the region to follow suit. The union said NHS staff who have been absolute heroes throughout the pandemic saving lives, have had worries of their own, with many staff living in households where other family members lost out on wages or faced redundancy. The agreement means staff have one less thing to worry about in uncertain times, says UNISON.
University Hospitals of Northamptonshire chief people officer Mark Smith, who signed the agreement, said: “We are immensely proud of our over 10,000 employees and grateful to them for the tremendous commitment they continue to show through the COVID pandemic. Over the past 16 months, they have continued to provide an exceptional level of patient care and dedication.
“This agreement is a fantastic way to offer certainty to our staff. It also fits perfectly with our people priorities within the new University Hospitals of Northamptonshire Group and our People Plan. We want to grow and develop our colleagues in Northamptonshire, to ensure they can provide the best possible care to our patients.”
UNISON East Midlands regional organiser Gareth Eales, who signed on behalf of the union, said: “I’m delighted we have secured a job protection agreement with the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire Group to secure over 10,000 jobs. An agreement that extends until the end of 2024, at which time we will review it.
“This achievement is significant locally, given the merger of the Northampton General and Kettering General Hospitals trusts. This huge reorganisation has been a cause for concern for staff. So as this new NHS group model evolves, all workers can be reassured they will not face compulsory redundancy. That is the value of a trade union.”
UNISON convenor at Kettering General Hospital Leanne Weatherly said: “It has been an extremely stressful time for all NHS workers due to COVID. This stress has only been added to locally with the two hospital trusts merging and the inevitable restructuring that brings.
“To secure an agreement with the new trust ruling out any compulsory redundancies for over 10,000 staff is a fantastic achievement by UNISON and one I know UNISON members will welcome. We hope this type of positive partnership working continues.”
UNISON regional manager Rachel Hodson said: “We welcome the signing of our job protection agreement by the UHN NHS Group. The protect our jobs campaign has gone from strength to strength as NHS employers join councils and academies to sign a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies to recognise the hard work of UNISON members during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the East Midlands, almost 20,000 workers have job protection thanks to UNISON. We call on more employers to so the right thing by signing our agreement.”