Promoting partnership working in the NHS

Yorkshire & Humber SPF

The Yorkshire and Humber Social Partnership Forum (Y&H SPF) is a sub group of the North of England SPF.  It was established in November 2014. The Y&H SPF sub group was set up by employers, trade unions and NHS Employers engagement team North to pursue their common purpose of developing a world class health service, delivered by a world class workforce, in the NHS in Yorkshire and Humber.

Effective partnership working will produce important benefits. These include improved services for patients and users and ensuring high standards of employment practices in the health services in the Yorkshire and Humber.

The Y&H SPF sub group will ensure that the principles underpinning the Partnership Agreement Framework agreed by the Department of Health, NHS Employers and NHS Trade Unions operate effectively within the Yorkshire and Humber region.

The partnership recognises respective roles and responsibilities, establishes shared values and common purpose and sets some key principles for effective joint working. It provides the basis for a continually improving partnership which will lead to long-term solutions that work both for staff and for users. 


The Y&H SPF sub-group is co-chaired by joint staff side chairs - Charlie Carruth, Regional Organiser, UNISON and Elaine McAvoy, Regional Coordinator, BMA together with managements side chair Nick Parker, Executive Director, People and Organisational Development, Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Workforce sharing agreement in Yorkshire & Humber

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a renewed focus on issues raised by staff moving between organisations, and in Y&H the regional SPF has been a key forum for discussing this subject.

Conversations in Y&H have focused on staff movement between NHS and social care organisations, and how to ensure that when this happens, there are suitable assurances and support for both employers and employees.

Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust had already developed a local workforce sharing agreement for this purpose, and Y&H SPF decided that if considered and approved in partnership with staff side, this document could be used as the basis for a regional agreement.

Some additions were requested by staff side, to ensure that this document:

  1. Emphasises that all staff moves should be undertaken with the consent of the staff member.
  2. Highlights the evolving situation around risk assessments for vulnerable groups.

The workforce sharing agreement was formally signed-off by the joint chairs of the Y&H SPF and circulated in the region.

Yorkshire & Humber joint statement: Leadership Development in the NHS

The Y&H SPF implemented a new approach ensuring meeting agendas are structured around a list of priority workforce themes. For each of the themes, a lead from staff side and management side work together to structure and lead the session. To date constructive discussions and sharing of good practice on themes such as flu vaccination, staff survey and bullying and harassment have been facilitated using this approach. 

Read the Y&H SPF joint statement on leadership development, a positive example of regional partnership collaboration and collective influence on the national workforce agenda.


The Regional SPF Forum aims to provide a modern partnership approach to issues affecting the NHS workforce, where a regional view is needed or would be useful. In particular it will:

  • Ensure that the principles underpinning the national Partnership Agreement Framework agreed by the Department of Health (now the Department of Health and Social Care), the arm’s length bodies, NHS Employers and NHS trade unions operate effectively within the region.
  • Support and enable a strategic agenda on key priorities in Yorkshire and Humber including service reconfigurations, workforce issues and specialist commissioning.
  • To identify and promote successful partnership working, which is providing positive benefits to staff, service delivery and patient experience.
  • Contribute trade union and employer perspectives at a formative stage, on the possible workforce implications of the development and implementation of policy.
  • Promote effective communications between partners.
  • Seek and promote good practice across the Yorkshire and Humber region.
  • Feed Yorkshire and Humber regional views into the National SPF.
  • Support and contribute to the work of the North of England SPF, which currently meets for a conference once a year.
  • Contribute to the strengthening of commissioning within Yorkshire and Humber.
  • To keep the patient or those who use the service at the centre of everything we do.
  • Ensure regional oversight and scrutiny of local partnership working in the STP/ICS footprints within Yorkshire and Humber.
  • At the discretion of the chairs, pick up ad-hoc pieces of work in partnership through designated task and finish groups.

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:

  • Building trust and a mutual respect for each other’s roles and responsibilities.


  • 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 Y&H Social Partnership Forum Sub Group will comprise Trade Union Representatives, Commissioners and Employers and will include representatives from:

  • Employers in the NHS in the Yorkshire and Humber, from a cross-section of organisations and job roles.
  • Yorkshire and Humber  trade unions party to the Agenda for Change agreement, plus the BMA and MiP
  • Commissioning Representatives from Clinical Commissioning Groups, Health Education Y&H, Commissioning Support Units
  • NHS Employers

Other stakeholders will be invited as appropriate.

The Partnership may set up ad hoc working groups from time to time to consider particular issues where a Yorkshire and Humber view is required.

The Yorkshire and Humber SPF (Y&H SPF) sub group meetings are held bimonthly, with short life task and finish groups formed as required for specific pieces of work. Members of the Yorkshire and Humber SPF can access all papers for the meetings in the regional community area of the website.

The 2020 Y&H SPF sub group meetings have been confirmed to take place from 1.30-3.30pm on the following dates: 

Venue: TBC following office floor re-location


  • 10 January 2020
  • 13 March 2020
  • 24 April 2020
  • 3 July 2020
  • 4 September 2020
  • 30 October 2020
  • 11 December 2020


  • 5 February 2021

Members of the Social Partnership Forum are committed to continuous improvement and to ensure that meetings and relationships remain productive it has been agreed that members will take part in an annual behaviour audit.

The partnerships behaviours toolkit was developed in partnership with ACAS and sets out ten behaviours that are required for effective partnership working to take place.

Individuals are asked to rate the forums effectiveness at demonstrating these behaviours and this promotes discussion about ways to improve and strengthen partnership working in the regional SPF.

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