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Partnership working delivers - South Tees NHS trust shelves shift change proposals

4 May 2016

Working in partnership, the RCN and other health unions have secured a significant outcome for staff at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Staff and unions had voiced concerns about changes to shift patterns which, if implemented, would effectively have required nurses and health care assistants to work for an extra six hours per month to make up for unpaid breaks added to the rota.

Roaqah Shaher, Chair of staff side at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and RCN Northern region representative

News of the outcome came last Friday when trust Chief Executive Siobhan McArdle sent a special briefing to all staff, saying: “It has become very apparent that not only are we highly unlikely to reach agreement on the planned introduction of the shift pattern changes through our current consultation process, but that we are also stuck in an unconstructive conversation that is not adding value to our organisation in terms of patient care, experience and outcome. Director of Nursing Gill Hunt and I have now taken the decision to close consultation on the proposed changes to nursing shift patterns and postpone the introduction of the changes in June.”

“This is a fantastic result,” said Roaqah Shaher, lead RCN representative and chair of staff side. “Everyone is so relieved, the atmosphere at work this weekend was really uplifted and there were smiles everywhere. I want to thank all the staff members for hanging in there and supporting the RCN and the other unions throughout the whole of this consultation period. This was only possible because we all stood together to oppose something that was recognized by the management as being ultimately unfair on hard-working staff.”

 Health unions undertook their own consultations with members to ensure that management understood exactly how the trust’s proposals were both unworkable and unfair.

Roaqah added: “The potential damage to both patient safety and staff morale has also been averted and this is to be welcomed. As a result of the consultation and constructive counterproposals put forward by health unions, staff side have agreed to work together to resolve the longstanding issues of health funding shortages in a way that is both safe for patients and staff. Unions are committed to ensuring that nurses and other staff are treated fairly, and this outcome shows the value of trade union membership.”