Annual leave policy update and FAQs

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The Trust Executive Team would like to provide an update on the recent changes to annual leave restrictions and the Need to Know message issued on 7th June.

Firstly, we apologise for the way the decision was communicated, as the original article did not explain why and how this would work.  We are sorry for the anxiety this has caused which was not our intention.  In the light of the way this was communicated and its lack of content, we took down the message.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) have now been produced which we hope will answer your questions and provide reassurance with regards your ability to take your annual leave in 2018/19.  

Download the FAQs HERE.

The requirement to introduce additional restrictions came about following the risk summit held on 30th January 2018.  NHS England observed that the 2017/18 restrictions – which ran from 2nd December to 1st January - no longer reflected the period of winter pressures that the NHS now faces.  We were also challenged around how we manage sickness abstraction, including flu related sickness.  As a result we had to produce a winter abstraction reduction plan, which provided assurance to stakeholders that we would have fewer abstractions in winter 2018/19.  This is one element of the actions we are taking as a Trust and is specifically focussed on 2018/19. 

As you will now know the Trust has been successful in securing a significant increase in investment and will be recruiting and additional 330 FTE frontline staff and introducing 16o more DSAs in the next two years.  This will, in the long term, reduce the impact on our staff and provide greater opportunities to lift annual leave restrictions and provide abstractions for arrange of opportunities and development.  In the meantime, the Trust must deliver on the requirements of the findings of the Independent Service Review to secure this funding going forwards.

We have always had annual leave restrictions. The new changes see the same restrictions, as agreed with UNISON last year, and some additional restrictions to cover the broader winter pressures period we know the NHS experiences.  We have kept these as low as possible and know that all staff can still take their annual leave within these limits.

However, we continue to look at ways that we can lift limits at other times of the year and are offering a buy back scheme and/or additional carry over if, for a reason related to the Trust’s actions, any colleague cannot take their contractual annual leave within their leave year.  We recognise there will be different challenges for some staff groups, including students and those who work permanent weekends.  Local managers will be sympathetic to those situations when allocating leave.

We know how hard you work and that annual leave and down time is precious.  We want you to have a healthy work life balance and to be able to spend time with your families.  We will do all we can to support you to achieve this both this year and in future years. 

Our capacity gap this year does make this challenging but we strongly encourage you to book your annual leave now so we can ensure all colleagues get their full entitlements and that we can allay the fears which have naturally arisen as a result of this announcement.

If you have any queries not addressed by the FAQs, please contact your line manager or email 

Published 18th June 2018


Thank you but I have already looked at the incredibly lengthy and complicated ORH report and it is not clear how these "extra" 160 DSAs will be crewed.
Even if the Trust were to scrap all 150 RRVs (which it clearly won't), then that would free up about 750 staff.
That would still leave us woefully short of the number we actually need to ensure these resources are actually additional to our current ones.
If the Trust are going to keep quoting these statistics then hopefully someone can explain exactly how they expect to crew these 160 extra DSAs.

29 June 2018

Lindsey Stafford-Scott, Director of People and Culture and Deputy Chief Executive said:

"Re Executive Directors leave – Directors don’t have fixed hours of work. However leave restrictions will apply over the identified periods. The 160 new DSA’s will in some places replace RRV’s so the new vehicles will be staffed from both existing resources and new recruits. The detail of the Deloitte report and ORH figures are available on the website if you would like to review.

Overtime – The Trust has a cost control model which means we will release OT where we are able, this has to be supplemented by PAS which we have to commit to and book in advance and therefore on some occasions we will deploy PAS over overtime because it is already booked and will have to be paid for. We recognise that our staff welcome the opportunity to earn overtime and will continue to offer that where it will make a positive impact for patients."

NTK Admin
29 June 2018

Can I (and others who have asked questions) please have some answers to the points raised on here?
28 June 2018

Please use incentives to cover overtime internally. Yes less crews want to work overtime due to the state of the Trust so provide an incentive, do something different and think outside of the box. Im sorry to say to the Execs it is blinkered and short sighted to use external crews for overtime ----- they do not know our policies, procedures etc and has a higher risk of wrong, delayed treatment, more potential for complaints, SI's. Plus they seem to call for backup more which is just pointless of them crewing a front line vehicle. Plus we are NHS and should not promote the privatisation of the NHS
22 June 2018

Here we go again, another ploy to demoralise staff, leave reduced again, surprising senior managers always seem to have xmas, etc etc off and we get to work it, Leave is hard enough to get never mind reducing it, we still have the same allowance here that we had 3 years ago but have almost twice the staff,
DO NOT even get me started on private companies, "everyone rarely survives" service is still going god knows how, they come they go but the staff can be shocking and so scruffy its unreal and the public just see ambulance, we should not be using PAS, let our own staff have the money please.

21 June 2018

Why is the trust seeking to engage Private ambulance services as stated in the FAQ rather than increasing the overtime budget and allowing us to keep this money 'in house'?

Staff deeply appreciate overtime and to pay our for private vehicles demoralises staff and strengthens other private services.

21 June 2018

I have two questions:

1. The Trust has stated that the annual leave restrictions will apply to the "Executive Team". Can you please tell me how often Board members regularly work weekends and would therefore be affected by the same restrictions road staff will face when trying to book annual leave up until the beginning of April?

2. The Trust keeps pointing out we will get an additional 160 DSAs and 330 more staff. To fully crew these DSAs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you need up to 1600 more staff if you add in an element of relief. These figures simply do not add up so how are you going to get enough staff to crew these "extra" DSAs?

19 June 2018

Is there a reason that the “capacity gap” is now being filled by private agencies and not our own staff? We have recently been told that there are no funds available for OT but we seem to have money to pay for double paramedic crews? It seems that not only can we not take our annual leave but if we do want to try and earn a few extra quid we can’t because the private agencies have now got a contract!
18 June 2018

The point is the trust removed a post to prevent others from seeing the disdain the staff have for their leadership.

Staff are already not being able to take leave, those with annual leave years falling over the winter period cannot use up their remaining leave and it will get harder

In addition your statement says 'We are working to reduce existing annual leave limits at other times of the year' - this is very worrying.

Mr Morton stated that he was having to take these measures as HE was personally responsible and accountable. In other words, protecting oneself at the expense of others'

When commenting on the previous (deleted) post, there was no reply regarding a paramedic who has a young daughter and not seen a single Christmas morning with her - is that fair? That person has now left the trust but is an all too common tale.

Whilst we all take patient safety seriously, we can no longer accept that we are responsible for the sheer level of work being dumped on our service over the winter period simply because (especially Christmas and new year and every bank holiday) others reduce their provision and when they have no remaining capacity, simply pass their problem to our service by refusing handovers etc.

This policy is unfair and remains so.

18 June 2018

The question that I posed on the original listing hasn't been answered.

We have an unacceptable situation at the moment where staff are having to stay up until midnight in order to book leave a year in advance to try and guarantee that it will be granted. This situation will only get worse when the new winter restrictions begin.

Can GRS be amended so that leave can only be booked between the hours of 0900 and 2100?

18 June 2018

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