A rally has taken pace outside Harrogate hospital today, with union representatives, staff members, representatives from the Harrogate and Knaresborough Labour Party – they were protesting against the hospital trust transferring 300 roles to a newly formed limited company.
Harrogate Hospital has declined to be interviewed and chosen to release a pre-written press statement.
A clear difference is now emerging in views in how the process has been managed. The hospital has said that they have engaged closely with staff, yet unions and staff have said the engagement and communication has been very poor.
Talking to one member of staff today, he told us that he had asked his manager for a copy of his new contract and one was not currently available.
Sarah Keig of Unison said:
In November last year they held a handful of staff meetings and gave people the chance to attend one to ones.
As no one really knew what it was all about there was very little turnout.
They then did not communicate directly with staff for months until February, after they received the union ballot results. They held some more meetings. By then it was too late staff do not trust management and did not attend these meetings.
With regards the unions they held regular meetings on a Thursday. However, these were just tick box exercises and whilst we tried to negotiate, discuss alternative proposals we were ignored. When we asked for the meetings to be rearranged so that we could attend they refused and a number of meetings happened with no trade union reps.
Robert Harrison, Chief Operating Officer at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, said:
Affected staff transfer over to subsidiary company Harrogate Healthcare Facilities Management on Thursday 1 March 2018. Throughout this process we have engaged very closely with our members of staff affected by the establishment of the new subsidiary company, and their trade union representatives.
We have recognised that this has been a time of change for staff, and that’s why we closely involved them along the way. This has included joint staff engagement events with our trade union colleagues, as well as one-to-one support and guidance.
As previously explained, on transfer on 1 March 2018, current staff will retain their NHS terms and conditions, or if they prefer, they can choose to move to new terms and conditions offered by the company. The new company will be modernising pay, terms and conditions for new staff, which will ensure that it is competitive in the local employment market.
This new arrangement brings with it financial benefits for the Trust, which means we are better able to remain financially sustainable and continue to provide high quality services for patients.