Workplace wins

Your CSP steward and safety reps are there to support you with individual workplace problems and to help coordinate collective responses

workplace wins

Loss of space

A north London trust’s neuro, respiratory and falls prevention teams saw two gyms re-purposed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic – one became an extra staff changing facility, the other contracted out to wheelchair services as a general practice had taken their space.

At the outset it was agreed that these changes would be temporary, and by June2021 the neuro team lead started asking the head of adult services and was attempting to start the conversation about returning the spaces to being patient care areas – but this wasn’t progressed by management. 

Joanna, our CSP steward, was approached for further support.  

She spoke with the chief physiotherapist and borough director to start to look at what was needed to move things forward – with Joanna then regularly checking in for progress reports.

The biggest issue was the contract that was signed during the pandemic between the CCG and the GP practice using the space and displacing services.   

Joanna also made sure to make the issue a regular talking point at the trust-wide joint negotiating and consulting committee. This helped gain the support of the trust’s executives, especially in light of a community services audit that was being run at the time.

‘I kept highlighting that services could not be properly audited if the services are not running properly due to the lack of space,’ she said.

With senior scrutiny secured, the impacted services started to collate data evidence on the impact of losing the gym spaces, and the effect of this on patient care.

The neuro team also looked into the cost of hiring private spaces so the services could be started again.     

When drawing together this information, Joanna had regular conversations with CSP staff – not limited to our trade union negotiators, but also the CSP’s professional advisers and the campaigns and regional engagement team. 

She said: ‘They provided great support, offering different ideas of how to keep the conversation moving, including contacting MPs and the press as last resorts.

‘Their advice was fantastic and really helped in keeping me focused on the task. 

‘I learnt to keep asking the right questions, to keep the conversation alive, and to keep to the point – patient care. 

‘I did this both in small local meetings and in larger trust-wide meetings.  

With CSP support we provided evidence of the negative impact on our patients, and explored alternative arrangement - ensuring the relevant data was available for any discussions we had with decision makers.

‘The biggest thing for me – as a workplace rep – was knowing I wasn’t alone, and that I had access to people who were happy to support and help’.

Following a couple of months of member-led pressure, the team got the news that one of the gyms was being returned imminently – with the process of removing staff lockers already begun.

The other gym was still under contract, but negotiations were underway and the space was being fought for by the community services director. 

‘Whilst I was nervous about the negotiations, I knew the manager representing the services that used the gym was on our side and keen to get the spaces back up and running,’ Joanna said.

‘Finally, we got the news we wanted – the contract was not being renewed and the process of returning the patient spaces that had been occupied by the wheelchair service during the pandemic had been started.

‘Although getting the space back took slightly longer with the clearing of the space and the IT work that was scheduled, which did delay the return, we have the space back and services have restarted.’ 

Read our article titled 'Make your case against a loss of space' for more tips on how to fight back against loss of physio space.

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