Sarah Michael provides an update on two recent employment law developments affecting the heath sector: the Government has published its ‘key early priorities’ in response to the Mid Staffordshire Inquiry, and NHS Employers has published its amendments to Agenda for Change terms and conditions of employment, incorporating the changes agreed by the NHS Staff Council.

Initial Government Response to the Mid Staffordshire Inquiry

Please click here for a copy of the Department of Health’s initial response to the Mid Staffordshire Inquiry, ‘Patients First and Foremost’, setting out how the Government intends to respond to the Inquiry’s recommendations.  Please see our previous Alert for a general summary of this document.

Key responses relevant to workforce recommendations are:

  • national barring list for NHS managers
  • revalidation for nurses
  • new standards of conduct and training for care assistants
  • elite fast track programme for top NHS positions; and
  • NHS Leadership Academy to source leaders from outside the NHS.
  • New individual criminal sanctions against employees will not be introduced; but the Government is looking at possible new corporate sanctions.  
  • Compromise agreement guidance will be updated to require that agreements state “nothing in this agreement prevents the parties from making a protected disclosure in the public interest” (for more information please see our Alerts on Judicial Mediation and ‘Gagging Orders’. 
  • There will be a further announcement ‘shortly’ on proportionality of severance payments for senior managers.
  • Information is forthcoming on the Professional Standards Authority’s standards of training and conduct for NHS leaders.
  • The Department of Health will produce evidence based guidance on safe staffing levels. 

A full system-wide update and ‘next steps’ document will be published this Autumn – but it is noteworthy that hospitals will be required to report on their progress with their implementation of the Inquiry’s report by the end of this year.

Agenda for Change

NHS Employers have published the amended Agenda for Change employment contract, incorporating the changes agreed by the NHS Staff Council and ratified by the unions. The changes came into effect from 31 March 2013 onwards and the amended NHS Terms and Conditions of Service Handbook is available to download here. 

The Bevan Brittan Employment team has a wealth of experience in advising on the implementation of Agenda for Change contractual terms and we would be happy to help with any issues you have in this regard – assistance may be required particularly in relation to negotiations around local policy linking pay progression to performance and practical issues such as training of appraising managers.