Blog 45: School bubbles and Tony’s rowing story

Hi Dudes, Blog 45 here and its resolute in its determination to stay positive in the face of the continued strain of the pandemic. The Branch recognise how disheartening the news is that Leeds is in a new lockdown, and these measures are likely to last through to the spring as the Covid numbers once more go up. We urge you all to listen to the public health advice to help control the numbers, and to listen to the infection control advice from the hospital. All this, although sometimes hard work and a pain, is designed to protect our patients, yourselves and our colleagues. I may look a Goon with my green goggles over my thick specs, but if looking like a character from “Despicable Me” me is what it takes then call me a Minion and paint my skin yellow.

This Blog does not often comment on specific work we do within the hospital as there is a need for tact, and not wanting to embarrass or criticise a management team we work alongside in a fraternal spirit. We cannot either discuss individual cases, I cannot very well describe the reasons Martha and Marvin are not in the workplace right now, and the work we are doing in the Branch to get them back in the workplace and calm the waters in the department – What happened in that mop cupboard is between Martha , Marvin, and the unfortunate witness Maud., we cannot in good faith blog about it.

However I do want to discuss a specific issue we are campaigning on. Our members need to know we are not allowing the issue to drift by unchallenged. This is the issue of how carers (parents) take time away from work when for instance a school bubble goes down. Present management guidance is to use the unplanned leave policy and at the managers discretion a worker may, work from home, take annual leave, time in lieu, unpaid leave etc.

We anticipate the problem will get worse as winter progresses and with parents perhaps having more than one child the need to take time off on more than one occasion may become severe relatively quickly.

Our worry is this rule will create a two tier workforce. Management whose school bubbles go down will be able to work from home, whilst physical workers, who are patient facing will have used all their leave by Christmas. We believe that this is unsustainable going forward and a more pragmatic and compassionate approach will need to be adopted.

It must be realised that front line workers who struggle to work from home are going to have a difficult winter, as they had a difficult spring and summer. Evolving the present guidance may be an opportune way to show support for this faction of our staff.

In praise of the management team responsible there has been correspondence and meetings regarding this matter both locally and regionally. They are listening and I am confident we can find a sustainable solution.

This situation has echoes of a similar conundrum – That of staff who travelled abroad in the summer when there were so called “air bridges” in place, but when the government changed the rules overnight were left to return from their holidays and quarantine for two weeks. Again, this situation has created a two tier, and inconsistent approach. Some staff could work from home in quarantine, whilst some staff have had to use up another two weeks annual leave. I know of one grievance in place which challenges this scenario.

You will be getting voting papers very soon as we elect a new General Secretary. This is producing some interesting debate within activist’s circle’s, and we are very keen to encourage our members to vote in this election once you get your papers.

If you have any questions over the election (remember we cannot tell you who to vote for) please get in touch. The bigger the democratic process the better.

The story of the NHS rowers – Tony Benn

“There was a boat race between a Japanese crew and a crew from the National Health Service (UK). Both sides practised long and hard and the Japanese team won by a mile. So the NHS …faced with this problem setup a working party which reported that the Japanese had eight people rowing and one steering and the NHS had eight people steering and one rowing.

So they brought in management consultants and the management consultants confirmed the diagnosis, suggested the NHS team be completely restructured to make it more efficient, more cohesive, streamlining and all-round better performance. A strategy document was drawn up and the recommendations encouraged restructuring for the entire organisation.

As part of the restructuring, a number of appointments were made including three Assistant Steering Managers, three Deputy Steering Managers, a Director of Steering Services and the rower was given an incentive to row harder. They had another race, this time the NHS team lost by two miles, so management laid off the rower for poor performance, sold the boat and gave the Director of steering services a large pay-out for making the ‘hard decisions’ and concluded they had too many management consultants and not enough managers!”

…..Speak soon xxx