Monday, 27 August 2007

Management aggression to Donor Services staff

A now long-running attitude of aggression from NBS management to Donor Services staff (such as the collection teams) has recently worsened, with a letter from widely disliked DS Director Richard Fry.

The letter in question

In it he refers to a number of 'non-compliances' noted by the MHRA, a regulatory body which gives the Blood Service our licence to practise, on their last round of inspections. These fall into 2 camps - 'major' and 'other'.

Richard Fry comments on 3 small 'Good Manufacturing Practice' failures by collection teams, while carefully avoiding any mention of the management non-compliances (including their handling of change) which the MHRA picked up on. The truth is that it is these top-level errors which are the 'major' problems, and the threat to our licence, while the issues needing attention by Donor Services staff definitely come under the category of 'other'.

The tone of the letter is unacceptably threatening. Richard Fry warns heavily that action will be taken against those who fail to comply with procedure in future. He claims that although these points were noted at one particular site, there is no reason to assume the same mistakes are not rife across the service.

Many of us when starting to work for the NBS were told that this was an employer which encouraged a 'no blame' culture. The NBS 'Mission and Values' - now almost abandoned as an idea behind the organisation - talked about looking for solutions together. This is far from Richard Fry's current unhealthy iron rule of scaring staff into obedience. This letter is just one more example, for a growing pile, of how Blood Service management disrespect and harrass the underappreciated staff, week in, week out.

If you work in Donor Services and would like to anonymously have a moan about Richard Fry's unfair attacks, please feel free to use the comments section below. Your colleagues working in the labs and other NHS staff need (and would be interested) to hear your views.

donor team
The hardworking face of the National Blood Service


More community support for Blood Service staff

The team from local community newsletter Brumstar and the IWW union hung a 10 foot banner outside the Birmingham blood processing and testing centre last month, to show support for the staff inside and to raise awareness amongst the passing public, including patients and healthworkers at the QE hospital on the same site.

blood banner 3

blood banner 2

blood banner 1

If you have more photos from around the country of demos in support of the Save Our Blood Service campaign, email them to:

(replace [AT] with @)


Sheffield council supports our campaign!

We are delighted to announce that following a debate held between NBS workers and management, Sheffield City Council (Health and Community Care Scrutiny and Policy Development Board) considered their position on the centralisation plans, and have come out publicly, strongly and thoroughly condemning the strategy.

The recent terrible flooding in England almost crippled Sheffield blood centre and it is testimony to the great skill and teamwork of NBS staff there and at connected sites that a reliable supply of blood products was able to be safely maintained to hospitals without too many difficulties. This is proof of the benefits of the Blood Service operating from many local depots and not piling all its eggs into 3 baskets with vulnerable supercentres.

It doesn't take much to persuade people of why we think the proposals are wrong, but well done to the supporters and reps at Trent NBS involved for winning us this valuable victory!

Read the full minutes of the debate on 11th June here

Here is the Council resolution, passed on 25th June 2007.

From Sheffield City Council
The Board gave further consideration to its response to the presentation made by the National Blood Service upon the National Health Service Blood and Transplant Service Strategy 2006-10, considered by the Board at its meeting held on 11th June, 2007.
That in the light of the information made available, this Board
(a) views with grave concern the proposals outlined by the National Blood Service to re-organise the Service in England and Wales without sufficient evidence of the need to re-organise the Service and particularly with regard to the impact of the re-organisation proposals in the City,
(b) believes that these proposals could result in Manchester being the nearest Testing and Processing Site to the City and serving the whole of the North of England and Wales and the transfer of blood storage and distribution facilities in the City to Leeds, thereby putting at risk the availability of blood and blood products in the City, particularly in emergency situations;
(c) views with disquiet the lack of clarity as to whether or not the Strategy was formulated in consultation with medical experts and laboratory managers from local hospitals and if the strategy has the support of these professionals;
(d) notes with concern the fears expressed by the trades union and others that the proposals would have a severe impact upon the ability of the Children's Hospital to continue its internationally renowned work on children's leukaemia, the training arrangements for Consultant Haematologists in the City, the immediate availability of specialist blood components and the carrying out of specialist research and development activities such as stem cell research, which are presently supplied by the Sheffield Centre;
(e) does not accept the premise put forward by the National Blood Service that the NBS Centre in Sheffield was "not fit for purpose" when the Centre has recently under gone several major refurbishment projects and, in the opinion of managers, is now fit for purpose for at least another 10 years;
(f) would wish to express its dissatisfaction at the apparent lack of accurate costings for the proposals including transportation costs thereby not giving the Board any opportunity to reach "judgment" on the economic veracity of the proposals; (g) is of the view that the underlying philosophy behind the proposals is driven by economic consideration rather than service improvements particularly as no information regarding costings and deployment was made available to the Board;
(h) is concerned that this matter was brought to the attention of the Board in the first instance by the trades unions representing employees of the NBS in the City and not by the NBS and would urge the Secretary of State for Health to remind the Health bodies of their responsibility to engage in meaningful and comprehensive consultations with Local Authorities and other parties regarding proposals for service change and also to request in the strongest possible terms to examine closely the processes for disseminating information and engaging in consultation so as to ensure that substantial systemic improvements are made to prevent this situation arising again;
(i) believes that at a time when all agencies are committed to taking positive steps to reduce the environmental impact of road travel there would be every possibility of an adverse environmental impact through increased transportation of blood
products to the City together with the concomitant dangers of inaccessibility to the City in adverse weather conditions;
(j) whilst recognising that it is not within its remit to become involved with or comment upon the possible adverse economic impact of the proposals upon the City's regeneration would nevertheless urge the Leader of the City Council, the Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economic Regeneration, Culture and Planning and the Chief Executive to pursue this aspect of the proposals with the utmost vigour;
(k) requests that further proposals about this re-organisation be reported to the Board as a matter of urgency; and
(l) requests that copies of this resolution be forwarded to the Sheffield Members of Parliament, the Secretary of State for Health, the Core Cities and the other South Yorkshire Authorities.

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Top NBS strategy man's head rolls

NBS staff have been musing at the surprise news that Chief Executive Martin Gorham would take early retirement last month.

Following almost 40 years in the NHS and nine years as Chief Executive of the National Blood Authority, and more recently NHSBT, Martin Gorham will be stepping down as Chief Executive at the end of July. Having completed the first phase of the development of NHSBT since its inception in October 2005, Martin has decided that now is an appropriate time to retire.

I would like to offer my thanks, and those of the NHSBT Board, to Martin for his years of outstanding commitment to the NHS in general and to the Blood Service in England in particular.

Bill Fullagar

13th July 2007

On first hearing this is an unusual development. It certainly points to weakness and division within the Board of Directors. This is a strange time for one of our bosses to choose to jump ship, right in the middle of a supposedly flagship modernisation drive. Why would he not choose to hang around and soak up the praise from the Department of Health for a job well done at the end of it all?
Clearly the directors have been having disagreements, and some kind of internal power struggle which has caused Gorham to either offer to step down, or be pushed out...

gorpic 001
NBS workers in Birmingham wave a tearful goodbye to their dear leader

On top of the already good news about the strategy review, this points out again how in the face of widespread opposition, the policy-makers are struggling to show a united front. If we pull out all the stops to work together, we have a great chance to influence the plans for the Blood Service from here on. We will keep up the pressure on the rest of the Board and the new Chief Executive Clive Ronaldson. By being organised as NBS workers and as service users, we will give them no choice but to properly consult with us.