Promoting partnership working in the NHS

North of England SPF

The North of England SPF brings together management and staff side representatives on strategic workforce issues across the three sub regions in the North, Yorkshire and Humber, North West and North East.


The North of England SPF is co-chaired by Charlie Carruth, regional officer, UNISON and Lisa Crichton-Jones, director of workforce transformation, North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System. 

Latest news 

The North SPF held their annual conference on the 28 June 2019 in Horizon Leeds. The conference focused on building a great place to work, staff health and wellbeing, retention and reward and staff experience in the NHS. 

For further full details on the 2019 conference, please see the conference web page.

The next North of England SPF annual conference will be held on 1 May 2020 in Leeds.

To provide a modern partnership arena for an overarching confidential discussion and debate about the strategic issues affecting the NHS workforce.

In particular it will:

  • Contribute trade union and employer perspectives to the development and implementation of policy
  • Provide constructive comments on implementation at a formative stage
  • Contribute ideas on the workforce implications of the implementation of policy
  • Promote effective communications between partners, supporting the development of the Health and Wellbeing system in the North of England
  • Promote good practice across the North of England
  • Feed North of England views into national groups including Staff Council, the Social Partnership Forum and the Stakeholder Forum and to be the conduit for national feedback to the sub-regional SPFs
  • Contribute to the strengthening of commissioning within the North of England
  • To keep the patient at the centre of everything we do.


To enable effective operation of these partnership arrangements, the partners agree to recognise and respect each other’s roles and functions which are distinct but complementary.

The partners recognise that:

  • NHS organisations have responsibility for implementing national policy
  • Trade unions have a responsibility to represent and act in the interest of their members
  • Other stakeholders will have views which will need to be taken into account

Shared approach

This partnership agreement is underpinned by shared values and common purpose. In particular, partners:

  • have a shared commitment to continuous improvement, including access to high quality services and delivering value for money to the public
  • believe the NHS should promote good practice in all areas of staff management, including equality and diversity, staff development and a commitment to security of employment
  • agree that the NHS should take a collective approach to support staff that may be affected by service changes.

Principles for effective joint working

All partners recognise the importance of good formal and informal working relations, built on trust and shared responsibility, while still respecting difference.

All partners commit to adopt these principles in their dealings with each other:

  • Mutual respect
  • A positive and constructive approach
  • Early discussion of emerging issues and maintaining dialogue on policy and priorities
  • Openness, honesty and transparency in communications
  • Where appropriate, confidentiality and agreed external positions
  • Making the best use of resources.

Membership of the forum comprises trade union representatives, employers, commissioners and arm's length bodies.

The forum includes the following management representatives:

  • Directors of HR from NHS trusts/providers in the North region
  • Local leaders from Health Education England, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Commissioning Support Units, NHS England and NHS Improvement, and NHS Employers
  • Senior representation from local government
  • Representatives from STP/ICS footprints
  • Other appropriate employer representative.

The forum also includes the following trade union representatives:

  • The Royal College of Nursing 
  • The Royal College of Midwives 
  • Unite
  • GMB
  • The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
  • The Society of Radiographers 
  • The College of Podiatrists 
  • Managers in Partnership
  • The British Medical Association
  • Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association
  • British Association of Occupational Therapists
  • British Dental Association
  • The British Dietetic Association
  • The British Orthoptic Society
  • The Federation of Clinical Scientists.

Other associated health and care partners to be invited/included at the discretion of the joint chairs.

North of England SPF meetings are held once a year, with short life task and finish groups formed as required for specific pieces of work. Members of the North SPF can access all papers for the meetings in the regional community area of the website.

The next North SPF conference will be held on 1 May 2020 For further information on the last conference held on the 28 June 2019 please see the dedicated web page.

Please email for further details. 

For any information on the North of England SPF, or any sub-regional SPF’s, please contact:

North Engagement Team

NHS Employers

2 Brewery Wharf

Kendell Street


LS10 1JR


Twitter: @NHSE_Engagement

Tel: 0113 306 3000