I haven’t seen any official announcements yet, but I’m hearing reports that North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust has decided to up on its plan – or at least set it aside for the time being – to dismiss and re-engage its staff in order to force them to accept cuts to their pay and conditions.
I understand that the Trust has said it’s now going to wait for the results of the ongoing national negotiations between unions and NHS Employers over proposed changes to Agenda for Change (AfC) conditions before deciding on any other measures.
This is a fantastic victory both for commonsense (as the Trust was resorting to sack/rehire for a measure that would save only a fraction of its target) and for unions and campaigners who have been opposing such plans in the north-east and around the country.
The change of direction by North Tees – like the change by NHS Gloucestershire following fantastic campaigning by ‘Stroud against the Cuts’ – shows that resistance and campaigning are not the hopeless cause that the government would love us to think. People do care, and Trust boards can be influenced to turn away from unreasonable and callous steps if objectors work together.
Congratulations to all the staff at NTH NHS, and to the unions who’ve fought for them – and I’ll even allow myself a little smile at the thought that this blog might have made some small contribution.
But the fight is far from over – this is a battle won, not yet a war. All those who love the NHS – or for that matter who love fairness and decency and who care about the vulnerable – need to take encouragement from the victories achieved so far, and to learn from them and from the defeats.
And then we need to roll up our sleeves and move on to the next battle, until we can get rid of this woeful coalition ‘government’.