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Downbanding beaten back in Berkshire

15 November 2013 - 12:54pm

All physiotherapy staff have retained their band gradings after a restructuring plan was challenged at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

The CSP and other health unions representing staff in children’s therapies stood firm during a four-month long consultation.

The society described the trust’s plan – which would have seen six band 7 physios downbanded to band 6 – as a poor process and said that staff could have been dismissed unfairly as a result.

There were other vacant band 7 jobs in the new structure which should have been considered as suitable alternative employment for the affected members, the CSP argued. Following an appeal, all members were reinstated.

CSP regional steward Julia Prince told Frontline: ‘The affected service covers all of Berkshire, so we quickly established effective lines of communication as we knew this would be essential.

‘Members across the county cascaded information, we had great support from our senior negotiating officer and worked well with occupational therapy colleagues in Unison to achieve a good outcome for our members.’

CSP senior negotiating officer Caran Chamberlain said: ‘The situation at Berkshire is an example of the widespread downbanding issues members are experiencing across the NHS.

‘Too often managers rush into a restructure and consider downbanding as a viable option without understanding or considering the relevant employment law in relation to the posts they are making redundant by deleting them from the structure.’

A number of procedural errors were made in Berkshire, Ms Chamberlain said, and the selection process used was unsuitable.

‘Sadly downbanding is all too often seen as an easy cost saving but managers and human resources departments are not always following due process.

‘As well as the damaging effect downbanding is having on career structures and pay for physiotherapists, staff morale is badly affected by downgrading. We are pleased that the trust has recognised the valid claims made by the CSP and has worked with us to find an early resolution.’

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