Friday, 3 March 2017

Latest From Napo 139

Edited highlights from the latest blog by Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence:-

AP Medication Policy - trouble ahead?

Following a spate of suspensions of staff in premises across the North West NPS Division in connection with a new policy on the handling of medication, Dean Rogers and myself went to see Sonia Crozier last week. Here we expressed our serious concerns at the apparent inconsistency and confusion surrounding the introduction of the policy and the lack of progress in talks between divisional union reps and management. As so often is the case our manager members are also being put under pressure along with everyone else, and this situation needs sorting.

I have also written to Sonia seeking her urgent intervention, pointing out that Napo will take protective measures if a solution to the difficulties is not found quickly. Aside from the individual issues the whole episode suggests that a root and branch national review of medication handling is required. Napo is seeking this as a matter of urgency and has said that this must be informed by the relevant legal and medical experts so that risk to clients and staff can be minimised.

Members concerned about their situation should get in touch with their Napo Branch who, if necessary, will liaise with National Vice-Chair Katie Lomas or myself.
That dreadful attendance management policy

The reply from Michael Spurr to Napo's objections about the implementation of this woefully ill-considered policy is reproduced below. I would be less than honest if I didn't say that the letter was well short of the standards expected from Michael, so maybe it got past his inbox on an especially busy day.

Letter from Michael Spurr

You and I could write an essay about the draconian and downright inept construction of this policy which for the record (again) was never agreed and was never the subject of any meaningful negotiation. In my view the decision by Michael Spurr to push it through in NOMS is a clear example of a failure to bat robustly for the team, and even if he was unable to face down the Minister, why was it issued in the absence of coherent instructions to managers? Many of those managers have contacted Napo to say how helpless they feel given the earlier directive not to use discretion, which now seems to have been subsequently countermanded. Confusion abounds.

Our own efforts to try and make some sense out of this senselessness has been hindered by the huge delay in actually receiving the 18 sets of official guidance that were eventually issued to managers and staff, and which I am told are somewhere to be found on the NOMS Intranet and/or MyServices. We are now ploughing our way through these to try and get our own interpretation out to you but as 'dogs dinners' go this is one of the biggest that I have seen served in quite a while

A summary of the anger out there is best reflected as follows:

In addition to the change in trigger points the removal of exemptions re serious underlying medical conditions and disability absences is contradictory to the supposed concept of NOMS. Also, as an equal opportunity employer, how can NOMS justify what has an obvious impact on staff with a disability, women of a certain age and staff from BAME backgrounds, as well as everyone else.

Using sanctions against staff under the disciplinary policies after a 12 month period following the lifting of a formal warning effectively means that members dare not be sick within a minimum of 15 months after an absence that triggers the process. Hardly a caring approach is it?

Advice to members and managers

While we work on detailed guidance I am aware of the additional pressures being placed on our local reps who are trying hard to help members. We are also waiting on news of a joint event for trade union and divisional NPS leads to try and establish some dialogue and I am grateful to Jude Gray for trying to get this underway hopefully soon. Meanwhile the policy and guidance should be followed and reps and manager members should take particular note of the most helpful section in the letter from Michael Spurr which reinforces that Managers absolutely have discretion when it comes to issuing warnings and they should use this when they can properly explain their decision making. This coming from the director of NOMS/HMPPS can be used to challenge any local misinterpretations of the policy.

Reps and managers should ensure that they read both the policy (contained in the PI on the intranet) and the raft of guidance for staff (in the “working here – being away from work” section of My Services and for managers in the “I need to manage” section of My Services). Napo will be issuing more advice and guidance for both reps and manager members soon but in the meantime please make sure that you contact national link officers and officials if any verbal instructions are being given that prevent managers from using their discretion in issuing warnings.

Rats spotted in Working Links premises

No laughing matter if that happens to be your workplace, and following the detection of said rodents in yet another of Working Links unfit for purpose buildings, I am in receipt of speculative suggestions that the austerity regime introduced by Aurelius/Working Links (WL) means that funding for office Cats has been severely pared back.

Truth is that WL have much bigger problems to worry about with increasing media interest in the SFO situation across their three CRCs, ongoing discussions with the MoJ over their funding and a long running dispute with the unions over their staff reduction programme and an operational model that we believe is unfit for purpose.

Perhaps we can add pest control to the long list of issues that need a resolution?


  1. Does anyone know what the issue is regarding the North West Approved Premises medication policy?

    1. You'd think Napo would have explained, but as usual instead we get long-winded riddles to read.

    2. Yep, don't really understand this either!?

    3. The AP policy on how residents meds are issued changed earlier this year and staff who had allegedly not followed it were being suspended

    4. How has the policy changed, does anyone know? Is it a change in policy or local practice?

    5. I currently work in the North West Approved premises division. Recently senior managers implemented a new medication policy, which has added further confusion across all the NW AP’s. Staff can see no reason why this policy has changed as the old one worked very well, apart from staff continuously asking for clarification on who was responsible for medication staff or the resident. We have now been told it is the resident’s responsibility
      The new policy is over complicated to say the least. Staff have never been trained until recently nor do any of us hold a valid certificate in dispensing / supervising or administering medication ( Senior managers cannot decide on what wording they want to use) We are still awaiting answers to questions raised over 18 months ago as to the correct guidelines of medication in the AP. Our questions are still unanswered and still this new policy was brought in (4 different versions in the last few months)
      Staff were required to attend substandard medication training and I use the term training very loosely as this was delivered by an AP manager whom to our knowledge is neither qualified in a medical capacity, went through a pack of paperwork and then got staff to sign to say that they had attended this tick box exercise and use it against staff if an error is made.
      The policy is very confusing with duplicate documents, staff have identified numerous problems with the new policy and have offered many solutions which have been taken to senior management but we have been met with a point blank no and for us to get on with it regardless. We are met with the same attitude when staff across the division have followed procedures that senior management have put in place after a resident has made an error but still found themselves suspended from duty. Then you have the lottery of what AP you work in or who your manager is to how long or how short you are suspended for it could be a day it could be a month. Even the suspension procedure is not consistent with NPS guidelines.
      I could tell you every issue that there is with the new policy but I would be here for a considerable amount of time, but one of the instructions staff have is if a resident takes medication that they have already had then “staff must physically retrieve it from the resident” just another laughable instruction along with staff completing medical assessments that we are not qualified for. A colleague said that they would have been a nurse if they wanted to deal with medication as our whole role is becoming about medication because we won’t get suspended for not interacting with residents but we will for medication. This does not happen in the prison as healthcare will deal with medication why are we any different?
      Everyday staff are becoming more disillusioned with issues surrounding medication and it is inconceivable that any errors made out in the field would result in the threat of imprisonment, unbelievably this is part of the consequences staff have been told we face for medication errors. We are unsure if this is a national or local policy.
      Just to finish staff are also going through a rota change, staff will have to apply for their jobs and some staff will be working more hours and doing more work for the same pay what happened to saying no to more for less?

  2. Probation Officer3 March 2017 at 22:13

    Why does Napo always speak in long-winded riddles?

  3. Well perhaps my senior managers know nothing about Spurr's letter, or perhaps they have ignored it, but I have been told for the nth time how "concerned" HR are about me, they are having "meetings" about me (really? Haven't they got anything better to do?) and that I'm "at risk" of losing my job, they will have "no discretion" but to remember they are only telling me because of how much they "care". I have been given an "informal warning" whatever that is, obviously because they are so supportive towards a quiet, hard working employee just trying to keep a roof over their head.

  4. No laughing matter if that happens to be your workplace, and following the detection of said rodents in yet another of Working Links unfit for purpose buildings, I am in receipt of speculative suggestions that the austerity regime introduced by Aurelius/Working Links (WL) means that funding for office Cats has been severely pared back.

    where are Truss' barking drone dogs when you need 'em?