The following options are being pursued to minimise the impact of potential staff absences.

Additional New Staffing:

  • Retirees - correspondence will be sent out to recently retired staff members, asking if they would consider re-engaging with NHS Lothian to help. The Staff Bank will co-ordinate this process and engage with local management to understand around any sensitivities for recently retired members of staff. Review of registration and PVG will be undertaken to ensure the ability to work.
  •  Planned Leavers - for those staff who are due to leave employment, they will be asked whether they would be willing to return to work shifts through our Staff Bank Service. Sensitivity should be given to individuals and their reason for leaving to determine suitability for this discussion.
  •  Staff Bank Service – NHS Lothian operates a Staff Bank Service, providing Nursing, Midwifery, AHP, Medical and Administration staff. These staff will be called on to work additional hours during the pandemic. This group will also be affected by pandemic related absence and so may not provide as much additional cover as anticipated.
  • NHS Lothian Redeployment Register - we will review all staff on the register to consider their core skills and health status to understand what limitations are currently placed on the register. Once these checks have been carried out then staff on the redeployment register will be eligible for re-assignment to areas of greatest clinical need across NHS Lothian.
  • Secondees – Services should identify individuals who are currently on secondment with a view to consideration of recall to maintain services. Such a move would require to be in consultation with the organisation hosting the secondment to assess whether the secondment placement’s business continuity needs outweigh those of NHS Lothian. Where the terms of the secondment attract higher earnings than the substantive post, those earnings would be protected during the period of maintaining the service.
  • Agencies – bulk booking of support shifts with framework and premium rate agencies.

 Existing Workforce

  • Cover using existing Part-Time Staff, Overtime and Excess Hours - part time staff will be asked if they are able to work additional hours. Overtime and excess hours would also be looked at for certain staff groups. This approach would be intended as a first stance against COVID-19 to try and maintain the essential cover of services.
  • Staff may be required to work in other areas to maintain services. For example some of the normal work such as elective surgery may be suspended and therefore staff working in these areas could be moved to deal with the pandemic. Local agreements on movement of staff will need to be reviewed to support a more flexible approach during the pandemic. There are some potential obstacles to re-assignment of staff during the pandemic:
  • In some cases staff may need to refresh their knowledge. For example, most specialist medical staff will have had general training, which means that they can also provide general medical care. Pandemic flu patients will often have other conditions or complications and so a range of skills will be needed. Non clinical staff will also be essential to provide support and maintain services.
  • Staff may have concerns about being moved from their normal work area. Previously NHS Lothian staff have generally been highly flexible. The levels of risk and ways to minimise this for all staff members will be fully explained. The NHS will need all available staff resources so refusal will not be accepted unless there were legitimate reasons for this, such as an underlying health condition. Guidance for staff in this situation is attached at Appendix 1. If necessary staff will have access to the appropriate Protective Personal Equipment.
  • Staff moved from other non-essential services - staff may not be in the right location to assist in those areas of most need and staff can be asked to relocate as necessary. Travel to work issues will be considered on an individual basis in line with Terms and Conditions.
  • Staff may be asked to work across other Health organisations in line with the principle of the NHS Scotland Adverse Weather Policy:
    • Where Health Boards have existing arrangements for deployment at alternative institutions across board boundaries, these will continue to operate as before.
    • If there are no existing arrangements between Health Boards for deployment of staff, then Health Boards should consider these as a matter of urgency.
    • Provision for deployment at other sites and across board boundaries must comply with the health, safety, security and risk management arrangements.
    • Staff will be reimbursed for additional expenditure such as travel, subsistence and accommodation, in line with existing arrangements and policies.