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Transfer Of Staff To Nhs Trusts

Volume 175: debated on Wednesday 27 June 1990

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Lords amendment: No. 6, in page 7, line 18, at beginning insert

"Subject to subsection (4A) below"

8.15 pm

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

With this it will be convenient to take Lords amendments Nos. 7, 45, 46, 91, 136, 137, 139, 140, 150 and 170.

The amendments deal with the transfer of staff, both to NHS trusts and from health to local authorities as a consequence of the community care changes in the Bill. The changes relating to the transfer to NHS trusts simply complete the provisions already in clauses 6 and 30. The transfer of staff from health to local authorities, by contrast, is set out in a new clause and in a series of equivalent Scottish amendments. Nevertheless, the same principle unites the amendments—that staff who transfer from one body to another should not lose out in the process. All the amendments provide various protective measures for staff who change employer in those special circumstances. I am sure that the statutory safeguards that they provide will be welcomed by those staff.

Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 and their Scottish equivalents provide statutory protection for staff who transfer from health authority to NHS trust employment before a trust's operational date. In particular, they specify that, for such staff, employment with an NHS trust shall be counted as continuous with health authority employment. Such staff will be few—mainly a small group of key staff, such as the new trust chief executive, who need to prepare the trust for carrying out is full range of functions.

The issue addressed by the new clause and the equivalent Scottish amendments was raised by Sir Roy Griffiths in his Report on community care and discussed at some length by the Committee, particularly the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke). That is the need to ensure that the services of experienced staff employed in long-stay hospitals are not lost when responsibility for their patients passes to another authority. Apart from knowledge of individual patients, such staff have a wide range of skills which are equally valuable in a community setting.

The new clause allows regulations to be made to provide for such staffs' service with the NHS and with local authorities to be counted as continuous. That means that their NHS service will be counted for the purposes of any future redundancy payments or action for unfair dismissal. We have opted for a regulation-making power rather than direct power here, because this is a matter which affects a range of interests—health and local authorities and representatives of NHS staff—with whom we shall discuss the regulations.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 7 agreed to.