Issues raised by staff are to be given a higher profile at the Area Partnership Forum (APF).
Until now the emphasis at the Forum, which meets four times a year, has been largely HR driven, with attendance management, finance, working conditions and workforce planning high on the agenda. But following a ‘time-out session’ last year, it was agreed that future discussions should concentrate on a mix of issues with greater emphasis on staff side involvement.
Three partnership forums – Acute, Facilities and Community Services Directorate – feed into the Area Partnership Forum. Their members are trade union representatives from various staff side organisations, senior managers and HR colleagues, together with full time union officials who act in an ex-officio capacity. So if you have any issues or ideas which you wish to raise, then speak to your staff side representative.
Health and safety issues, shift patterns, working environment, staffing levels, and harassment and bullying are all able to be raised at the Area Partnership Forum. Members are also keen to hear suggestions and ideas on any changes or improvements which local staff would like to see.
The first port of call would probably be a staff side rep who can raise an issue for you. You could also attend a local union meeting. Each organisation holds meetings at different times and locations. Members of the Forum are also willing to visit individual departments if requested and the APF intranet pages are also being developed to help keep staff updated.
JANETT SNEDDON – Co-Chair Acute Partnership Forum, Steward Royal College of Midwives.
A midwife since 1979, Janett’s first foray into becoming a staff side rep happened when she began working in Leicester, where a pay dispute was ongoing. The arguments did not involve her personally, so she was able to take an unbiased view. She speaks from 30 years experience.
“I think the staff side work very well together. When we first had the Partnership there were acute hospitals in Stirling and Falkirk and the reps didn’t know each other. Sometimes we were treading on eggshells. But now we are a true partnership and contact each other for advice.
“People should be coming to us with their problems whether it be sickness absence issues, disciplinaries or advice about terms and conditions. I am concerned that some people don’t realise what support they can get from our members. For example a union rep can accompany you to discussions about sickness absence and will be able to highlight policies you may not be aware of.
“We belong to the Forum hopefully to improve services for staff. But it is a volunteer role and we would like more staff to contact their reps if they have concerns or suggestions. We cannot make things better unless we know about them!
“Not only do staff side reps support staff but they are also able to talk to management and to HR too. This joint approach can often de-escalate what can turn into a tricky situation. It can also avoid embarrassment on all sides.”