There were two meetings nationally with the trade union representatives of national health service staff about the Transforming Community Services: Enabling new patterns of provision guidance, which was published in January 2009 a copy of which has already been placed in the Library. These meetings were held on 18 November and 8 December 2008, and comments and contributions from those present influenced significantly the content of the final guidance. The union representatives were a sub-group of members of the Social Partnership Forum, and they discussed the potential implications for NHS staff. NHS clinical staff and trade union representatives are also members of the Board for the Transforming Community Services programme.
The six transformational practice guides (written principally for clinical team leaders), which are due to be published in June 2009, have also been co-produced with NHS staff.
The Partnership Agreement ‘An agreement between DH, NHS Employers and NHS Trade Unions’ was published in March 2007. It sets out the principles and benefits of working in partnership on work force implications of policy. A copy has been placed in the Library.
It is expected that strategic health authorities (SHAs) will replicate the broad principles and structures, laid out in the Partnership Agreement, at local level.
In addition, The Handbook to The NHS Constitution for England published, on 21 January 2009, includes a commitment to engage staff in decision that affect them and the services they provide. A copy of this has already been placed in the Library.
Further, ‘Transforming Community Services Enabling New Patterns of Provision’, published in January 2009 (a copy of which has been placed in the Library), requires primary care trust boards to consult their staff and their representatives, as well as other key stakeholders, from an early stage on organisational options for the future of community services and to take their views, comments and suggestions into serious consideration. The guidance also highlights the importance of the active engagement by SHAs of regional Social Partnership Forum in reviewing progress and discussing any emerging concerns or significant implementation issues.
There has been no assessment made centrally of the likely effect on levels of staff retention of the transfer of NHS community services staff to third sector providers as part of the Transforming Community Services programme. We have been clear, however, in guidance to primary care trusts (PCTs) that we expect PCT boards to consult at any early stage on such proposals and/or requests from staff under the ‘Right to Request’ scheme, and to ensure that any implications for the future community work force, such as recruitment and retention, are considered.