Behind the headlines: Trust position on HSE improvement notices

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Our response to the media on our position around Health and Safety Executive (HSE) improvement notices:

The Trust received two Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Improvement Notices on the 2nd November, 2016, related to the processes for managing and recording working time. 

The Trust has since developed a range of systems and processes for monitoring working time and rest breaks in accordance with the Working Time Regulations and responded in writing to the HSE in the required timeframes.  A positive meeting was held on 9th February between senior Trust managers and HSE inspectors and it was agreed that the Trust would continue to implement its planned approach and write again to the HSE with an update by 9th March.  This work is in addition to other supportive initiatives introduced by EEAST in partnership with UNISON in summer 2016 to reduce late finishes for staff and to ensure that staff are able to take their meal breaks. 

There has been an unprecedented increase in demand for services in the last 12 months; EEAST has an identified capacity gap and faces difficulty filling vacancies against a backdrop of a national shortage of paramedics.  This leads to staff often working overtime and has in the past led to significant late finishes when staff are unable to leave a patient and thus work beyond their shift finish time.  Like all employees, Trust staff have the option to ‘opt out’ of the working time regulations limit on the 48 hour working week and many choose to do so.  Staff have been provided with advice and guidance on the opt out process in a range of formats to assist decision making.  The Trust considers patient and staff safety its primary concern and faces a difficult balance in providing continuity of care for patients whilst ensuring staff are adequately protected from fatigue.  The Trust has made significant steps to improve working practices and will continue to consider other options available to maintain high standards of patient care and safety of staff.

Published 17th February, 2017

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