Remind me, what’s the purpose of this?

Some weeks ago I published a post on the draft Equality Delivery System (EDS).   In brief, the EDS is a  a new framework that Trusts will use to measure how well they have embraced and embedded equality and diversity.  It was due to go out for consultation in November, but I have recently been informed that it’s postphoned until the New Year, although no reason has been given for this.  Pilot sites will start working towards their EDS in April 2011, with full-roll out in 2012.

The current framework of the EDS has been designed by individuals working either in PCTs or SHAs.  In my view the framework, as it stands in draft format, is not transferable to acute or mental health Trusts.    And this an issue, because we know that SHAs and PCTs aren’t going to exist in the very near future, so what is the point?     I understand that this is a question that is being discussed behind closed doors at some trade unions and professional bodies, who (reassuringly) share my views. For us, the consultation will be crucial, as it will be our only opportunity to significantly influence this initiative.

As I began to think through the implications of the EDS in conjuction with the White Paper, I recalled the following:  an ex-colleague of mine, who is now a leading figure in Equality & Diversity in the NHS, recently went on record saying a recent survey had established that c.34,000 GPs have a poor record in terms of their attitude towards diversity.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t around last week when I called to see where this figure came from.

It’s well documented that there is a genuine worry about the commissioning capability and capacity of the new GP consortia.  And there is quiet concern within the Equality & Diversity community about that the capability & capacity of GP consortias to run organisations who believe in equality and the concept of being “effortlessly inclusive”.  And to be clear, this isn’t just a workforce issue, but applies to patient services too.  (Ironically the White Paper is about reducing health inequalities). 

Am I taking it too far by thinking that the EDS has been designed to ensure that the GP consortia embrace and embed equality & diversity?  I think so, we’re not that visionary in the NHS.

Sometimes I feel that the NHS is like a tanker that has invested so much in trying to drive an initiative forward that it can’t change direction mid-course.    The EDS is such an iniative.   I heard a great quote recently when I was talking about the EDS with a leading Equality & Diversity specialist.  She described it as a “piece of furniture”: It sits in the corner of the room, but it looks out of place and nobody wants to use it.  That is exactly the opposite of what we should be striving for.

When redundancy is a waste of public monies

The climate has shifted and across the NHS everyone is using the ‘r’ word: nobody doubts that there will be compulsory redundancies and many organisations are still flirting with the idea of voluntary redundancies.

I recently had an interesting debate with an HR colleague on the ethics around redundancy in the NHS.   Primarily the debate centered around the  impact and consequences of the following NHS redundancy rule: employees are not allowed to undertake any paid work in the NHS for 28 days after leaving an NHS for redudancy reasons.

So in essence, a Trust could make a Band 5 nurse – Jane Blogs redundant at the end of December only to find her re-engaged on another ward, in a permanent post from 1 February.

Jane in the meantime has had a lovely month off work, taken advantage of the bargains in the January Sales, has been able to pay off her credit cards and a sizable chuck of her mortgage with her £40k redundancy monies.

About 5 years ago I erroneously thought there was a bean-counter at the DH who checked to see if anybody breached their redundancy terms by commencing work at another Trust within their 28 exclusion period.  I believed that some central department would then attempt to claw back the redundancy payment.

The reality is Jane Blogs could get a job down the road at another Trust the day after she is made redundant. If the first Trust doesn’t know about it – then they won’t be aware of the breach.  And so no attempt is made to reclaim the monies.

This is without doubt a loop hole and good HR departments ensure a robust debate takes place within an organisation to ensure that appropriate consideration is given who they are (potentially) making redundant.

But a new reality has emerged amongst the PCTS and the GP consortiums. It transpires that the GPs don’t want to employ any PCT staff under Agenda for Change terms and conditions. So they are telling the PCTs that they are to make these staff redundant and then the GPs will re-engage these staff on their own (and most likely less favourable) terms and conditions.

Without doubt this is a waste of tax-payers money.

As you will know, I’m not in favour of added layers of bureaucracy. But this time I hope that the DH takes the appropriate action and puts some sort of mechanism in place that ensures that millions of pounds aren’t wasted on inappropriate redundancy payments.