I attend the STP meetings relating to workforce (the LWAB) and the social partnership forum for Somerset. Somerset STP footprint is currently in financial turnaround due to a forecast deficit of £30 million. At the most recent STP SPF meeting there was an update on the STP acute work stream and the message is that rather than continue with their plans for transformation, they had been told to refocus on short-term ‘quick wins’ to save money to address the deficit.The plans include moving to a single staff bank in an attempt to reduce agency and bank spend, freezing vacancies and streamlining ‘back office’ functions across the STP, along with making improvements in urgent and emergency care pathways and delayed discharges.
We are increasingly concerned that Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is creating wholly owned subsidiary companies; there is one already set up for day surgery and one planned for a significant number of non-clinical functions. Although the plan is to TUPE staff across to the new company on their existing Agenda for Change terms and conditions, new starters and any promotions will see see staff moved out of the Agenda for Change NHS contract of employment and potentially the NHS pension. We are working with other trade unions, locally and nationally, to challenge this. We are also not sure how this fits with the STP plans to streamline ‘back office’ functions.
The merger of Somerset Partnership NHS Trust and Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust continues. Currently the two organisations retain their separate boards but appointments to the joint executive positions have been made, with Peter Lewis appointed as chief executive, Hayley Peters as director of nursing and Isobel Clements as interim HR director.There is minimal independent sector involvement or engagement in the STP but primary care has representation by one GP. This situation must be improved going forward.
The STP is very aware of the national shortage of nurses and work continues on exploring the development of a new Somerset-based nursing degree offer in collaboration with Bridgwater and Taunton College and local employers. There is a memorandum of understanding for a staff passport which means that staff will more easily move between organisations but details are not clear on the expectation on staff to move.
Lynn Batson has raised concerns about a disconnect between the workforce group and the clinical work streams. Shelagh Meldrum, director of nursing and elective care at Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, has joined the group, which should hopefully strengthen links.