Communications Officer’s Report for the A. G. M. 2017 of the UNISON Branch 20106. 

During 2016 there was little change in the factors associated with poor practice or leadership from Government levels for helping Industrial Relations as the ‘establishment‘ was increasingly forced to concentrate and focus on a backlash to its own problems. With help of UNISON Campaigns the Anti-Trade UNION Bill was significantly defused with some of its elements including DOCAS. All of which designed to weaken the Pay & Terms and Conditions of NHS Staff; our members and the Public Sector in general, with no consideration on its effects for Localised Partnership working.                                Ambulance Service delivery targets along with the rest of the NHS deteriorated as the year went on. At April our own Trust awaited the visit from the CQC, the Report published at August. Predictably it highlighted all the same issues that the UNISON Branch had consistently campaigned for; and surveyed it’s staff with the increased use of Social Media; including addressing the worsening of ‘Late finishes’ and repeated failures to deliver the Student Paramedic programme with any consistency.  At year end increasing proportions of Trusts in all sorts of trouble lacked the explanations consistent with common sense, with little or no confidence for any alternative identifiable government performance /funding strategy.                                                                                             The CQC, also have noticeably started to report the emerging crisis for staff within managing their own workload and infrastructures as they begin to encounter the historical stored up problems repeatedly stated by UNISON and others.             By year end pressures escalated with splits emerging between NHS England and Government over resource and funding.  

 “NHS Culture” Nationally has still figured high on all the meeting agenda’s with seemingly no idea how to diagnose or address the problem which still seriously impacts on the staff retention and service delivery. Agency and private arrears building up are still compounding the financial problems of the NHS finance towards implementing patient care without risk .The annual paradox of ‘patient satisfaction’ reports regularly used to disguise the chronic failures existing to the infrastructures available to deliver them.   The accent is still very much on leadership and transparency needing to be seen to cascade downwards.  The worse things get, the more Government retreats into refusing to communicate, preferring a pathway of denial, citing 7 Day working, blaming GP’s and A&E overload, as opposed to why the NHS has been allowed to deteriorate due to erratic expensive policy reversal as a result of swathes of historical instances of poor decision making.                                                                                                                  

The turnover in NHS Trusts of CEX’s continues, we are no further being told what those influences are that determine their responsibilities, or safe funding levels, and more importantly where the corporate accountability and responsibility for that actually lays. The worst examples of accountability are ‘retention of its staff,’ and as to why this service’s Staffing resource was allowed to deliberately deteriorate in the way it has, and been able to impact to such a degree on Patient Risk, and its Staff with ridiculous percentiles of ‘late finishes’; coupled with the huge incalculable financial legacy left over for years of retraining to this Trust over flawed policy decisions taken up to July 2013 to which still remain unexplained.                                                                                      

Communications are critical for recruitment and retention It is equally important to report back the content of the meeting, as the number of meetings attended. The Branch direction, as agreed at RBC has reflected the past 12 editions in the Monthly Newsletter and Website, they have kept the Branch Membership fully informed and up to date month by month within the content of the Branch Secretary’s Reports with additional articles and use of the Freedom of Info Act to produce Graphs and evidenced information to the membership including membership surveys using the Social Media on a number of important topics. Branch Officers and C/ Leads attendance at RBC their activities and reports throughout the year are recorded. Health and Safety Law is another vital area under attack from government: sources requiring up to date information which was fed back promptly to the membership on issues concerning their daily working conditions at a time when resource is under pressure due to generated understaffing. Surveying the Staff has again been evidence based.                                  

I will repeat what I said for the last 2 years The systems in place to monitor what we all say we want to aspire to and preserve in the NHS are a frustrating contrast. Genuine communications from above would encourage more respect and acceptance from what can be delivered from the system or not, until then Staff and the general public are left with no choice but to rely on their Union’s, the Local Health Watch Groups, and their Media or MP’s to conduct their own monitoring and communicating to compensate for the invisible unaccountable influences/ agenda’s that consistently fail to communicate properly what the long term plans for the NHS actually are, and what standards of service against their own localised funding that they feel they are able or prepared to provide under those circumstances. It is in everybody’s interests to be aware, and able to work towards that goal. The UNISON Branch Committee remains committed to working openly in Partnership with the management of the Trust, and in doing so, ensure that the same level of transparency of communications to its membership goes with it.  With an updated Website, Communications is a two way event and as constantly stated within the Branch Newsletter, would benefit from a variety of articles/opinions from all departments of the Trust including the Trust Board.  I would again like to thank all those who have made the time to contribute during the past year.                     Many Thanks    Eric Miller   Communications Officer.