The partnership forum, TU agreement, and BBR

Trust crest and UNISON logo

The Trust held its Staff Partnership Forum (SPF) meeting yesterday (3rd October), the second under the newly-negotiated partnership working arrangements.   

The team were pleased to formally note the signing of the new Trade Union Recognition agreement and the supporting arrangements for positive partnership working, consultation and negotiation and dispute resolution process.  These documents now replace the previous agreements and can be found here.

The SPF members focused the discussions on the biggest issue currently facing staff; Building Better Rotas and East and West Operational BBR leads attended the meeting to assist with these discussions and consider recent developments.

The Deputy Chief Executive updated SPF members including UNISON representatives Michael Whitcombe, Graham Hillman, Jessica Micallef and John Hammond with regards a ‘Safe Staffing’ meeting she attended on 25th September at which there was a presentation on workforce planning arrangements including plans around relief working in another trust, and UNISON’s National Representative, Alan Lofthouse who was also present.

The following day, regional UNISON officers and the Trust met to start to explore whether there could be any learning and had agreed to start to scope this work prior to the discussion at SPF. Both parties have done some initial research and made contact with their respective ambulance colleagues and these initial findings were discussed at SPF. 

It is clear there is no one ‘perfect’ solution and any alternative solution may not be agreeable for some staff but collectively we all agreed that in light of the considerable concerns of some of our staff and some UNISON members that we should explore these alternative options fully before making any final decisions on future rota design.

The SPF also considered the new draft Relief Policy which has been developed in partnership with UNISON and shared in its draft form with working party members at Working Party four this week. We were able to consider feedback from UNISON members and via the working parties and make some amendments to produce a final policy for proposal to UNISON and the Trust’s Executive team.  Our intention is to have a final policy approved by 18th October.

The Trust and UNISON agreed it would be appropriate to revise approaching BBR deadlines. Voting was due to start on 15th October and run to 28th October with formal consultation on new rotas to commence on 5th November. Concerns from staff were noted that they wanted an opportunity to consider and understand the relief policy fully before voting for new rotas and we recognised that staff would prefer not to vote on current options if there was any potential that things could change as a result of recent developments. On that basis it was agreed EEAST would pause the voting process for a period of time whilst alternative options are considered. 

We are pleased to be able to demonstrate our commitment to meaningful discussions prior to any formal consultation and the progress we are making in working more positively in partnership on such an important and emotive issue.  All parties continue to recognise that delivering revised rotas in 2019 is an absolute requirement of EEAST’s contract with commissioners and a key enabler to deliver the requirements of the independent service review which will improve our service to patients and protect patient safety. It will insure EEAST has the most sustainable funding stream of any ambulance trust and allow us to have significantly more staffing resources. So whilst rota changes will happen, this gives us the opportunity to consider new options which may be more agreeable to staff. We recognise the introduction of new rotas can be unsettling to staff members work life balance - the quality clinical services that EEAST delivers are only possible through the work of all colleagues and the Trust needs to ensure that any rota changes do not adversely affect the retention of existing staff or the recruitment of new colleagues.

In the meantime we are sorry to hear that some colleagues who have been taking part in working parties to represent staff have been subject to bullying. This has ranged from offensive comments and social media posts, to being ignored by colleagues at work.  This is absolutely unacceptable and the Trust and UNISON share a zero tolerance approach to bullying an harassment in any form.  We understand the emotive nature of rota changes and that feelings will run high, however there is no excuse for bullying behaviour and comments and feedback should be channelled through the appropriate feedback routes in a professional and courteous way.

If you have any queries on BBR and the new developments please contact the BBR team at or your UNISON representative

Published 4th October 2018

Please ensure if you are posting a comment, you must include your name in full (first and surname). Thank you.

Leave a Comment
Name (required)
Email Address (required, never displayed)
Enter a message

(all comments are moderated - your submission will be posted on approval.)