The formal consultation on the next part of NHS England and Improvement organisation redesign launched today.
I know this is an uncertain and worrying time, particularly as the broad direction of travel has been no secret. Government decisions to cut to NHS national bodies budgets were made some time ago and comments from NHS leaders on the scale of cost reductions have been well publicised.
Today, we get our hands on the detail of the proposals and I wanted to make sure you had as much up to date information from UNISON as possible. We had a scheduled meeting with NHS England and NHS Improvement on Thursday 11 July.
We had expected full details of the consultation proposals to be provided to all the trade unions at that meeting in order for us to give preliminary feedback and start to plan targeted support to members most affected.
However, NHS England and NHS Improvement were unable to provide that information. We were not confident that the organisation had sufficiently accurate information to start the consultation so the trade unions requested that the launch be delayed until 24 July. Management colleagues did not want to increase the uncertainty for staff by delaying the start of consultation past 16 July. They also committed to providing complete information ahead of the consultation.
However, on the day we were formally asked to make a decision we simply did not have access to the relevant information so we were unable to endorse that start date.
This is disappointing as up until this point we have been working in partnership with the employer to try and ensure that as much of the organisational change and consultation process is as fit for purpose as possible.
The conversations have been challenging but constructive. Though we were ultimately not able to support the start date I do believe the consultation process will be better as a result of trade union input over the last weeks and months.
Now that the consultation has formally launched we will be engaging with it in full. We are all committed to a collective consultation where all staff and trade union members feel supported to effectively contribute to the process. Your input is vital as you know your work areas best.
If information is missing, we need to ask for it. If there are mistakes in the document, we need to correct them. If plans are unworkable or inappropriate, we need to make the strongest possible representations to highlight that. This consultation period gives us the formal chance to do that and I strongly encourage you to participate both individually and working in your teams. I will write to you shortly to let you know how to contribute to UNISON’s collective response.
Just like you, UNISON reps are getting access to the detail of these proposals for the first time today. It will take us a little time to assess the impact of the proposals but do please do speak to them if you have particularly concerns or want support.
UNISON National Officer