I’ve been reading some exchanges over on the Napo forum website, and thank goodness there’s been some sign of life just recently. What particularly struck me was a response to a long and detailed post by ‘SaveProbation’ basically trying to rally the troops and get colleagues to wise up to the very real threat to our profession and employment that’s looming on the horizon. I thought this response was interesting, not least because I suspect the sentiment is widespread:-
Unless you have access to secret information that no-one else does, that looks more like speculation and conjecture presented as fact.
People are rightly worried, but I don’t think making things sound even worse than they are will help anyone, other than making them even more stressed than they are.
Clearly the message about just how dire the situation is has not got through in certain quarters and I urge any doubting colleagues to wise up quickly to what’s being proposed and what the likely consequences are going to be. Just look at the evidence, listen to the mood music, and read what’s being said both on the Napo website, SaveProbation twitter feed and this blog, and put the pieces together for yourselves.
There’s probably only a few months left to try and scupper these plans for our demise, because it’s quite obvious that management and Trust Boards up and down the country are co-operating fully with MoJ/NOMS orders.
Whatever warm words you might be hearing about the formation of ‘mutuals’ or what you believe about TUPE rights, or what you might think about working for ‘charities’ or other cuddly-sounding voluntary sector outfits, PO’s and PSO’s will be made redundant, terms and conditions will get considerably worse and there will no longer be any secure future for anyone in a world of competitive probation tendering. Remember, there were 200 redundancies as soon as Serco took over the London Probation Trust UPW contract, and that is a partnership with the LPT!
It’s hugely disappointing, but not a single seriously dissenting voice in probation management is willing to stand up and articulate what we all know to be true, namely that the whole thing is a bloody dangerous shambles and must be stopped. They could refuse to cooperate, but they have decided not to, so it’s down to the front-line to do something.
Don’t be bullied by management into either cooperation or belief that nothing can be done. Question everything. Actually the time is fast approaching when the message must be ‘Don’t Keep Calm and Don’t Keep Carrying On.’
In order to reinforce the message, lets just look at a bit more of the context within which all this is happening. I caught this story on BBC local news recently about Cleveland Fire Brigade and at first didn’t believe my ears. They are wanting to recruit volunteers with HGV licences on a zero-hours contract to drive fire engines in the event of a Fire Brigade Union strike. They also want volunteers to fight bloody fires on the same basis in the event of a strike.
This is a direct throwback to the 1926 General Strike and call for strike-breakers. I would add in passing that it was Cleveland Fire Service that was recently canvassing the possibility of becoming a ‘mutual’. Of course if Fire Services do become ‘mutuals’ there is nothing to stop the likes of Serco or G4S snapping them up further down the line. The same would apply to any probation ‘mutual’ that might be formed.
Zero-hours contracts are spreading like wild fire and can give zero pay and zero security. They can prevent you being able to claim benefits even when you’ve not had any work and prevent you getting a mortgage if you’ve been working a minimum 45 hour week for four years. The perfect flexible employee for this brave new world we’re creating. Blimey, things have got so embarrassing with even Buckingham Palace using such wheezes that Nick Clegg has instigated an investigation according to this in the Guardian.
I have to admit I don’t know a great deal about the NHS and yet another reorganisation, but I’m learning fast and yet again there are warnings about what lies ahead for us and the rapidly changing political and economic context for public services. My attention has been drawn to the case of the Poole and Bournemouth Dorset Trust hospital merger.
Poole is basically in serious financial trouble and if it doesn’t merge with Bournemouth, it will go bust. But the merger is being stalled and has been referred by the Office of Fair Trading to the Competition Commission ‘because of concerns about two competing Trusts combining’. Competing? I thought hospitals were all about patient care? In blocking the merger, this blog explains what actually is important:-
It accepts that not merging will be worse for ‘patient services’ – but blocks the merger anyway because competition trumps what’s good for patients.
If there was any doubt that what’s really at the heart of the way the government has ‘reformed’ the NHS via its HSCA 2012 is finance and profit, this surely removes every last trace of it.
Whatever lip service is given to competition as a way of improving patient choice and healthcare standards, when it comes to the crunch under this government and the Act it forced through in spite of outspoken disapproval from patient groups and all professional healthcare bodies, financial and competitive considerations beat clinical concerns and patients’ interests. Hands down. Every time.
The situation is even worse because it’s said in certain quarters that this is all a wheeze so that hospitals that go bust can be passed effortlessly into the hands of private contractors to run. So, wake up guys, this is the brave new world being created by the political class and it’s just about to hit us if we don’t do something about it pretty damned quick!
Courtesy of Jim Brown at On Probation Blog