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Working when ill is ‘a false economy’

New sick-leave policies are pressuring staff to work while they’re ill, the Annual Representative Conference heard.

The National Group of Regional Safety Reps pointed out that many NHS employers are revising their policies to allow inappropriate use of the Bradford Index. The index monitors individual staff sickness levels, by scoring each episode of sickness according to a number of set factors.

The score triggers management action when it reaches a defined threshold. This not only causes stress to employees but also encourages them to bring sickness into the workplace, said safety rep Kath Stott, of Cheshire, Mersey and Isle of Man.

‘Making staff work when they’re ill is bad practice and a false economy,’ she added.

All but two of the delegates voted for the CSP to provide guidance to managers, stewards and safety reps on the appropriate use of trigger mechanisms.
Janet Wright

Axing of code will promote two-tier employment

Conference deplored the axing of a ‘two-tier’ code designed to protect new recruits into outsourced public services.

Delegates unanimously called for the CSP to oppose the drop in employment standards, and to provide briefing materials for members who wished to lobby their MPs — particularly those in marginal seats.

The code, negotiated with the TUC, stipulated that new employees’ terms and conditions should be no less favourable than those of staff who had been transferred from the public service. It was axed to facilitate competition among private firms.

‘In my experience, employing new staff on worse pay, terms and conditions is hardly motivating to the workforce,’ said Alex Mackenzie, of the national group of regional stewards.

The contracting out of cleaning services had led to a dramatic rise in the number of hospital-acquired infections, she said.

Seconding the motion, regional safety rep Julia Tabrah said that offering worse pay to new employees was a false economy.

‘If they don’t feel valued they will leave, putting more pressure on the remaining staff,’ she said. ‘Staff will be reluctant to move into posts, which will slow down the job escalator. And it could easily result in bullying and negative behaviour.’
Janet Wright

Core placements suffer

Student clinical placements are getting harder to find as privatisation starts to bite in the NHS, the Annual Representative Conference heard.

With increasing use of private sector providers in the NHS, the diversity and quality of undergraduate placements may be adversely affected, the British Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Amputee Rehabilitation (BACPAR) told delegates.

In some areas, students are doing specialist placements because none are available in core areas such as respiratory, musculoskeletal or orthopaedic physiotherapy, Hannah Slack of BACPAR said.

‘I’ve seen students doing placements in amputee rehabilitation instead.’

Mike Maynard of the Aquatic Therapy Association of Chartered Physiotherapists said ‘transferable skills can only be transferred so far’.

 ‘It’s shocking how many students haven’t had the opportunity to do core placements, and it’s a sad fact that clinical educators have to work harder to ensure that students have a useful placement,’ he said.

Conference unanimously called for the CSP to campaign for a commitment to student placements and professional development to be legally required of all NHS service providers.
Janet Wright

Delegates want training funds to be ring-fenced

Guidelines on clinical excellence are welcome, conference agreed — but the CSP should lobby for training funds to be ring-fenced so physios could meet those targets.

A quarter of members responding to a CSP survey had already seen training budgets reduced ‘significantly’, said South London steward Helen Gifford.

Delegates also called for associates to have better access to training and support for their CPD needs.

‘In-service training is one of the first things to go, certainly for support workers,’ said Jerry Spencer, of the CSP Associates Board. ‘But if we can all access appropriate training, this enhances the team as a whole.’
Janet Wright

ERUS can’t cover students on placements

In a vigorous debate conference rejected a call for the CSP’s Employment Relations and Union Services (ERUS) to support student members on clinical placements.

Matthew Roche, for student executive committee, said help and support from the local steward could improve students’ confidence, continuing professional development, productivity and quality of service.

‘It is not just about problem management, but it could galvanise students and provide inspiration for their future career,’ he said.

Mark Quinn, for the student executive committee, told conference: ‘The key point here is that students are looking for advice, support and help, and that is exactly what we do as physios and what I hope to do.

‘We are the future of physiotherapy, but without advice we are like sheep without a shepherd,’ he said.

Sue Rees, council member, but speaking in a personal capacity, said students generally had honorary contracts with employers when on clinical placements. Students should be directed towards their clinical educators or even their employers’

HR department if there was a problem, she said.

‘We need to be aware of how stretched in their current responsibilities many stewards are, particularly at this time of huge change in England,’ she said.

A call to remit motion 26 to Council was rejected, and the motion itself was not carried.
Graham Clews


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Article Information


Janet Wright & Graham Clews

Issue date

2 March 2011

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