What local CSP reps have done for you in 2018.
Your CSP steward and safety rep are there to support you on individual workplace problems and to help coordinate collective responses to problems affecting groups of members. See the sorts of things they've achieved directly below.
And if you are aware of a vacancy for a safety rep or steward in your trust/board, please consider stepping forward for the post yourself: see www.csp.org.uk/getorganised for more information on getting more involved in the union locally.
Compulsory rest time
Threatened paid compensatory rest time was maintained for 120 members thanks to the efforts of CSP stewards at Manchester NHS Foundation Trust. A new local interpretation of the on-call policy sought to take away paid compensatory rest time but this clashed with trust policy. Stewards Charlotte Chew Maria Oldfield and Ally Hollingworth held regular meetings with managers and HR where they argued that the change was unfair and posed risks to patient and staff safety. The upshot was that the current practice of recording compensatory rest was kept. It was agreed that the manager would sign it off and in supportive evidence would state acknowledgement that the staff member worked over and above the contracted hours. What was the CSP reps’ learning? ‘Be clear with the specific points you are disputing, set clear timeframes for receipt of information you are seeking. And be polite, but firm.’
Car parking charges for physio staff when working on-call have been lifted, thanks to CSP steward Samantha Petch. There was no free on-site parking for staff who were forced to park 5-10 minutes away from Luton and Dunstable Hospital. Samantha liaised with the head of parking services and the health and safety officer, explaining risks of staff walking around the area if called in overnight. The upshot is all staff have been issued with permits to park on-site and are able to buzz in and out of the car park to avoid parking charges. ‘I learned the importance of speaking up on behalf of staff. All of the on-call team and our manager are very grateful for my input,’ says Samantha.
A policy on overpayment of wages has been amended to include underpayment, thanks to a CSP steward working with staff side colleagues at Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust. Giancarlo Tolaini re-wrote the policy, jointly with reps of other health unions at the trust and submitted it to HR. The amendments and additions introduced in the redrafted policy were accepted. Learning? ‘Often tackling an issue head on and producing something complete to HR is the best approach.’
Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust have suspended controversial plans to increase notice periods for Band 5 staff from 1 to 2 months, following the intervention of CSP stewards and other local health unions reps. The trust argued that this would give the HR department more time to recruit staff and short-staffing within clinical teams during the recruitment process. However, the local union 'staffside', led by CSP steward Giancarlo Tolaini, took issue with the proposals. It contended that this would not boost staffing levels, staff morale or recruitment: it would self-defeating as it would encourage a “race to the bottom”, with all trusts in the region simply imposing an increased notice periods. Furthermore staffside argued that it would create an imbalance between bands 5 & 6; if raised, as proposed, the more senior band 6 staff would then have the same 8-week notice period. And it would result in an unnecessary restriction of freedom of movement of employment of lower paid staff. Staffside conducted a survey and produced a report for management that demonstrated that in fact many recruitment problems resulted from the failure of managers to notify and raise a vacancy request, as well as from certain internal processes within HR.
An absence management policy Bridgewater Community Health Trust in Warrington was clarified to reflect accurate number of carry over days, following action from CSP steward Jenny White. The policy stated staff could carry over 20 days, instead of the correct 28 days. Jenny contacted the trust HR department and requested that they make the policy clear. What did she learn? ‘Always challenge discrepancies. Don’t be scared to be wrong.’
A member facing possible dismissal for sickness absence has been was supported by a CSP steward to help protect her job. The member was at Stage 4 sickness review which meant termination of employment was under consideration. The steward argued that the member’s innocent failure to disclose their recognised disability until matters had already reached a head, combined with a dramatic improvement seen in the member’s recent attendance record since reasonable adjustments were subsequently put in place, should be carefully considered. Management accepted this viewpoint. So the member was returned to the less serious stage 3 in the sickness review process and, provided she could remain at work for the next seven weeks, would be removed from formal monitoring altogether. Learning? ‘Do not accept occupational health advice if it appears unreasonable and unfair. There is a general lack of full understanding within organisations about what constitutes a disability.
A sickness-related ‘improvement notice’ on a member was revoked after the CSP steward intervened so that a CSP member’s disability was recognised. The improvement notice under the NHS trust’s sickness absence policy was issued after two episodes of sickness related to the disability. The trust action was based on an occupational health report that hadn’t recognised the members’ disability so the steward asked for a second occupational health opinion and a review of the decision. The steward learned ‘the importance of being aware of the appeal process for occupational health, managing absence and equality policies and procedures.
Unacceptably low temperatures that were negatively affecting 20 odd CSP members and potentially putting patients at risk were increased following the intervention of the CSP at Pennine Acute NHS hospitals. When physiotherapy staff arrived for work the temperature was approximately 12 degrees centigrade. Not only was it too low for CSP members but staff were concerned about the impact of some high-risk patients in the outpatient department. CSP safety rep Kelly Stanton filed an incident report and highlighted it to the health and safety site lead as well the health and safety committee. She also carried out regular temperature checks. ‘I got a response from the health and safety site lead within 20 minutes of my email. The issue was then escalated to estates as urgent and there was immediate action on the radiators,’ says Kelly. ‘In tackling this matter, I learned the importance of reporting things and also the support that you can secure from the health and safety site lead. It was a long term problem but now it has been resolved members are happy. They can see issues for action [raised on their behalf] being completed.’
General working conditions
Lockershave been fixed in the stafflocker room at Mid Cheshire trust, allowing some 25 CSP members to securely store their belongings, thanks to the CSP safety rep. Rebecca Allen raised the matter with management following an inspection. ‘I learned ways to liaise with management to get them on board,’ says Rebecca.
A new portacabin will be installed at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital after the CSP safety rep highlighted the poor working conditions 10 members were suffering. Says Paula Wheeler: ‘The existing portacabin has no running hot water, pipes froze in winter and it was hot in summer. It was overcrowded. And the toilets were broken.’ Paula carried out two inspections, met with members and also held meetings her manager, the estates managers and a manager from the porta cabin company. What did she learn? ‘Communication is vital. And to meet members on a regular basis.’
New more rigid working patterns and 7 day working rotas were made more flexible after CSP safety rep Michelle Collier secured changes. Michelle ‘scoped members opinions and took them back to management with the support of clinical leads.’ The changes agreed at Central Manchester Foundation Trust allowed members to return to an approach of claiming back days for a set three days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday). ‘I learned that you do need to pursue feedback from members [with the employer] even if this may rock the boat.’