New ways of working during the pandemic
The national SPF ensured effective employer and trade union involvement in the national response to the pandemic, setting up a dedicated COVID-19 Engagement Group (which met 38 times), and more frequent meetings of the Wider Group. This enabled partners to contribute to:
• staff deployment plans
• infection prevention and control (IPC) including personal protective equipment (PPE)
• ensuring risk assessments for NHS staff
• NHS Test and Trace
• vaccination/booster programme
• NHS staff health and wellbeing
• NHS People Plan
• supporting Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic NHS staff
• recovery of services and staff.
SPF workshops enabled more detailed partner engagement in specific topics including:
• Use of PPE
• COVID-19 testing
• COVID-19 App
• NHS People Plan
• COVID-19 vaccination programme
• IPC guidance
• Vaccination as a condition of deployment consultation and HR guidance
• Response to the Omicron variant.
Maintaining positive industrial relations during the pandemic
SPF industrial relations statements April 2020 and July 2020 helped the NHS to focus its efforts on the pandemic response during the first wave through supporting partnership working in organisations to be streamlined and certain employment relations processes to be put on hold.
SPF communications were used to help reassure trade unions and employers that they were being represented at a national level and action was being taken to address workforce priority issues.
Supporting system development and service delivery
The ICS Transition Partnership Group was established in April 2021 to enable partners to get involved in the organisational change arising from the establishment of statutory ICBs. The group contributed to the employment commitment and HR Framework for developing integrated care boards and produced supporting FAQs. The Group worked with the regional SPF co-chairs to enable the sharing of intelligence on the transition process.
The Strategic Group contributed to the development of Health Education England (HEE) long-term strategic framework for the health and social care.
Compassionate and respectful workplace cultures
The Violence Prevention and Reduction Standard for NHS organisations, published January 2021, was co-produced by the Violence Reduction Subgroup. The standard provides a framework that supports a safe and secure working environment for NHS staff. The subgroup was also involved in the development of guidance to support the implementation of the standard.
Supporting our staff - A toolkit to promote cultures of civility and respect was developed in partnership through the Workforce Issues Group and is hosted on the SPF website. The toolkit helps NHS organisations to promote a culture of civility and respect in the workplace.
The national SPF created a page on its website to share approaches to a Just and learning culture.
NHS staff health and wellbeing
The Strategic Group held several important sessions on service recovery – emphasising the crucial connection between this and staff recovery. The group sought to ensure NHS staff had the support they need to help them with the pressures in the service caused by the pandemic and in tackling the elective backlog.
Staff engagement and partnership working
A new SPF website was launched in October 2021. This makes it easier for users to find what they need with simplified navigation and content that is tagged by keywords and topics.
Case studies produced which showcase how social partnership working can support NHS staff and help them deliver better patient care.
Positive Partnership Working During COVID-19 and Beyond was a national SPF online conference, held March 2021, which brought together national and regional SPFs, workforce leaders and trust management/HR and trade union reps to research findings and good practice.
National SPF internally led stocktake into work undertaken in 2020/2021.