Out-of-hours GP service and union sign deal
TRADE union Unison has signed an agreement with Cornwall's out-of-hours GP service for recognition of the union.
The agreement was signed with Serco this week and will help members who provide healthcare across Cornwall in hospital and community settings, as well as working with GP practices and commissioning groups.
It comes off the back of agreements that Unison has with Serco locally and nationally to collaborate on employment policies and practices.
Unison South West regional organiser Stuart Roden said: "We look forward to working jointly with Serco to develop a range of modern working policies which will benefit both the employees and enhance the performance of the company.
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"Serco employees are the first point of contact for people when they are most in need and vulnerable. We need to ensure that they are enabled to provide the highest level of service to the local community."
The union also said it was surprised by the National Audit Office (NAO) report into Serco's service in Cornwall, which said staff did not feel confident about reporting issues.
Mr Roden said: "It is crucial that staff feel confident to report matters which are of concern and feel that they can do so in safe and supportive environment. We will continue working with Serco to ensure that staff feel able to make disclosures and that they have clear processes which they can follow."
Commenting on the NAO report, Louis Warren, who manages the Serco service, said: "Over the last six months the GP out-of-hours service that Serco provides in Cornwall has been the subject of the most comprehensive scrutiny and exhaustive series of audits possible.
"The NAO report has not only substantiated what the other reports have already shown – that the service is safe and well-regarded by patients – but also confirms that we have taken swift and decisive action in response to the previous CQC report.
"The only outstanding minor issue noted was that we need to take further action to increase the number of health advisers; our recruitment campaign will have this resolved by the end of March."
In a joint statement, NHS Kernow and NHS Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly said: "We welcome this comprehensive report from the NAO into concerns relating to the provision of the out-of-hours service provided by Serco, particularly the commitment to ensuring whistleblowers feel protected and able to contact us with confidence in future.
"We will review all of the recommendations and ensure these are built in to how we monitor the contract to reinforce the quality standards set out nationally and locally for this service."