FOI blitz on South-West NHS pay cartel members

As you may know, the government has sanctioned a ‘consortium‘ (if it walks like a cartel.. etc) of NHS Trusts in the South-West of England whose aim is to corral NHS workers in the SW into accepting reduced pay and holidays, longer hours etc by ensuring that all the Trusts across a whole region are offering the same, worsened terms.

By means of Freedom of Information Act requests on the Dept of Health, I’ve already been able to ascertain that the DH was colluding with the cartel and, crucially, that Andrew Lansley lied when he claimed that the DH did not agree with, or see the necessity of, pay cuts under the cartel. The DH’s meagre response to my FOI request showed that DH ministers had approved the cartel’s plans 8 days before Lansley made this ludicrous statement.

Lansley claims to want ‘flexibilities’ to agree pay regionally, but disagrees (publicly if not in private) that this means lower regional pay. Since the DH’s stated aim is to cut costs by a massive £20 billion across the country (and just as a first phase – the long-term plan reaches £50 billion!), it’s ridiculous to say that flexibility doesn’t equal pay cuts. The only other option would be to put pay up, and he’s hardly going to do that – salaries have been frozen.

Collusion and lying are already proven. But the paucity of information I’ve received from the DH (the BBC has also dissembled shamelessly to avoid answering questions on its communications with the DH) convinces me that there is a lot more to uncover.

To this end, last night I sent the following two FOI requests to each of the 19 Trusts who are members of the cartel (and one to a 20th Trust that is considering joining):

Dear X

Under the FOI act, I wish to receive:

1) Copies of all communications between your trust and the Department of Health since 1 Sep 2011, with email histories intact.

2) Copies of notes/minutes from any meetings or telephone calls with the Dept of Health since the same date.

Yours faithfully 

Dear X

Under the FOI act, I wish to receive:

1) Copies of all communications between your trust and the South-West NHS Pay, Terms & Conditions Consortium or its other member trusts since 1 Sep 2011, with email histories intact.

2) Copies of notes/minutes from any meetings or telephone calls with the Consortium or its member trusts since the same date.

Yours faithfully

I’ve sent the two requests separately to minimise the opportunity for the Trusts to avoid answering by claiming the requests exceed the cost limits allowed for under the FOI Act. The answers I get back will allow me to crosscheck the information from the DH and from each Trust, and should be most interesting, not to mention revealing. I will, of course, post the results and my conclusions here, once I have the responses.

Let me end by encouraging you to use the FOI yourself. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good tool for uncovering the real actions and intent of our public bodies and finding out whether they’re really acting in our best interests and with integrity. Whatever your particular area of interest/outrage, get stuck in – the government will find it much harder to go about its nefarious business if there’s an army of FOI-users dogging its every move and scrutinising its words and deeds!

If you’re interested to participate, there are various ways of submitting requests (each of the Trusts has its own FOI page, for example), but one of the best is http://www.whatdotheyknow.com. This site offers a free facility to send FOI requests to any organisation subject to the FOI Act, and also automatically informs you when you get a response, reminds you when responses are due, etc. If you can afford to donate to their work, please do – but there’s no charge for using the site!

Advertisements

2 responses to “FOI blitz on South-West NHS pay cartel members

  1. Pingback: Plymouth NHS initial FOI response already indicates DH lie? | skwalker1964·

  2. Pingback: Explosive, exclusive: how the South-West NHS pay cartel plans to ‘reward & incentivise’ staff | skwalker1964·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s