This week's leadership message

Lindsey Stafford Scott   web

As we enter into October and our ‘official winter period’ our thoughts and activity is firmly focused on winter planning.

Robert’s resignation has led to a level of uncertainty and people naturally want to know what impact the appointment of a new CEO may bring.  We want to assure you that the Trust Board remains stable and as Deputy Chief Executive working with the Executive Team, I know we remain focused on delivering our strategic goals of providing better care, valuing our people, providing value for money and improving performance.  Our immediate priorities to deliver these goals are recruiting and retaining our workforce, delivering the Building Better Rotas project, improving operational performance and productivity and delivering fleet and make ready.

We continue to deliver against these priorities whilst preparing for winter.  An important part of planning is the health and wellbeing of our people and we are continuously developing our Wellbeing offer. New initiatives launching this month include a Wellbeing passport and the Kaido challenge…watch this space! We are of course encouraging staff to have their flu vaccination and have seen fantastic take up so far with more than 10% of staff opting for their jab in the first two weeks of the campaign.  Remember it’s not just you who you’re protecting but your friends, family and our patients, particularly those who are vulnerable.  You can also receive a £25 voucher for getting your jab this year and could win a prize in our prize draw for those who get their jab by November. #JabDone! More information can be found here

Like every NHS trust, recruiting new staff is challenging but we have been very successful in recruiting more than 200 staff so far this year, and more than 160 new staff taking up posts.  However, this is against a backdrop of staff finding attractive opportunities elsewhere in the system, particularly those with specialist skills.  We are working with other organisations in the system to find ways of providing those opportunities for staff on a rotational or temporary basis so they can stay with EEAST in the long term.  We are also developing our own specialist and advanced practice offer which we know staff are keen to access, and will soon be holding engagement activities where you can share your ideas on this topic along with a range of others linked to our strategic priorities.

We know the big issue of the day is the Building Better Rotas project and I am pleased that following our Staff Partnership forum yesterday we have some news on the ongoing consultation. I was able to update SPF about a ‘Safe Staffing’ meeting I attended on 25th September at which included a presentation on ambulance workforce planning arrangements including plans around relief working. The Trust and UNISON will explore what colleagues in the sector are implementing and so decided to pause the voting on rotas until we have had the opportunity to consider what might be alternative options. There is no one ‘perfect’ solution and any alternative solution may not be agreeable for some staff, but collectively we agreed that in light of the considerable concerns of some of our staff and some UNISON members it’s right thing to do to explore these alternative options fully before making any final decisions on future rota design. The SPF also considered the new draft Relief Policy and we agreed to plan to have a final policy approved this month (by 18th October in fact) so staff have the chance to read and understand this before any voting takes place.

Thank you to everyone so far who has supported our commitment to meaningful consultation, and who have been part of the progress in working more positively in partnership on such an important and emotive issue. We have to deliver rotas in 2019 as an absolute requirement of our contract with commissioners and all parties continue to recognise that – it is a key enabler of delivering the Independent Service Review requirements which will protect patient safety and improve our service to them. So whilst the pause in voting gives us the opportunity to consider new options which may be more agreeable to staff, the rota project isn’t stopping. 

We are sorry to see some commentators continue to use the genuine concerns of staff to further their own personal agendas and to hear some colleagues who have been taking part in working parties to represent staff have been subject to bullying.  Rota changes are emotive, and feelings will run high, but there is no excuse for bullying behaviour. Comments and feedback should be channelled through the right feedback routes in a professional and courteous way.  We made a commitment to eradicate the toxic and combative approach to industrial relations in 2017 and we stand by that commitment.  We are pleased to have a productive relationship with UNISON based on mutual respect and honesty; whilst we may not always agree, we have professional discussions and have agreed mechanisms for resolving disputes in a professional manner.  

I know we have challenges and we are working to improve things for staff but the constant negative publicity and damaging commentary is disappointing, distracting and does not reflect how the majority of people feel about working for EEAST. I am proud of #WeAreEEAST and the people within it, and I’m looking forward to engaging more and more staff this year to help improve our compassionate approach to patient care. 

Stay warm and stay safe!

Lindsey

Published 4th October 2018

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