On September 4th 2015 the CEO Robert Morton wrote the following " I will be encouraging everyone to remember we are one, we are EEAST". At the time these were promising and encouraging words, but if you work for Patient Transport or in Support Services you may well be feeling that sentiment intended by such a statement has bypassed you.
For almost a year we have been campaigning over the unfair differences in the meal break arrangements between PTS and Frontline crews. These differences
include a lack of a "Late Meal Break Payment" to PTS crews and the 30 minute TOIL element for missed meal breaks, which is paid to Frontline colleagues, in addition to the financial payment. We have published several articles and submissions in the newsletter and ran a survey for three months to try and guage whether Late Breaks, were an issue within the Patient Transport Service. The results revealed that not only were late breaks a very real problem for many of you but also that many other aspects of the PTS meal Break arrangements were not being adhered to and this was, and still is, causing many of you to feel unsupported and ignored and is causing a great deal of stress and conflict within the workplace
The results were shared with Branch and as a result went to JWAG for discussion with managers, at the time of writing this issue is still unresolved but I have been asured by Liz McEwan that the survey findings would be discussed at the team meeting on 8th March. As yet I have not been advised on the outcome of those discussions.
Based on the amount of calls and emails I had been receiving it was clear that the problems you are experiencing around the PTS Meal Break Arrangements are no nearer to being resolved. I therefore emailed all of the PTS Locality Business Managers within the Trust and asked them to support their staff and sought assurances that they would use to the meal break arrangements as they are intended. This included the following
1. Meal Breaks will be allocated or agreed with crews at the commencement of shift and will be planned within the Meal Break Window.
2. If crews are actively engaged on a task or job at the point of the agreed Meal Break is due to start, the crew will be stood down immediately on completion of that task
3. Once stood down the crew will be deployed to the nearest Ambulance station for their break, this should be regardless of time or distance and their break will not start until they
are inside the station
4. If for any reason outside of the crews control they miss a meal break they will be eligible to claim a missed meal break payment of £15.00
5. Crews should not be given a meal break in the last hour of their shift - if they have not had a break before the last hour it should be deemed as a missed meal break
6. Crews should not be encouraged or pressured to carry out another task once their allocated meal break time is reached.
I also broached the subject of enforced overtime, which is another major concern to some of you, and invited all LBM's to set up regular meetings with the NES Branch Officer and one or two randomly selected staff so that local issues can brought to the table be discussed. This was done on 18th February, so far not one of the LBM's has even replied to my email or agreed to any regular statffside meetings.
This will be my last posting, as Kevin Byrne has now taken over as NES Officer. He is an experienced Rep and is very supportive of staff. I will continue to support Kevin in any way I can and will still be very involved with PTS Issues within Essex as my new role as Essex County Lead.