Friday, 27 June 2014

Picnic for Pay - 10th July

North Somerset UNISON will be holding a Picnic for Pay at 12.30 pm on 10th July on the grass outside the Town Hall – the branch will provide sandwiches and refreshments - all you need to do is bring a deckchair, and because many schools are likely to be closed please bring your kids as well.

We will also have picket lines at the Town Hall and Castlewood from 7.30 am on 10th July - please join us.

Monday, 23 June 2014


UNISON members working in Local Government and Schools have voted to reject the 1% pay offer and take industrial action on 10th July. It is very likely that our sister unions including UNITE, GMB, NUT, PCS and FBU will also be taking action on the same day. For 4 years local government workers have borne more than their fair share of the cuts, through massive job losses, the 3 year pay freeze, followed by last year’s below inflation 1% pay increase – effectively a pay cut. It is now time to stand up against this unfair treatment. Strike action is always a last resort, but it has also been successful in the past, particularly during the pensions dispute. More recently UNISON members in Universities have taken industrial action and as a result the employers have agreed to pay the living wage, along with a 2% pay rise for everyone else.

For those of you who are worried about the financial impact of losing a day’s pay by going on strike, the branch has a hardship fund which all members can apply to. You can download an application form from the branch website: or you can phone 01934 634759 or email to request one.

We will also need members to stand on picket lines on the 10th July. We will need to cover the Town Hall (2 entrances), Castlewood and any other workplaces where we can get a few members to form a picket line. Please contact the branch office to let us know where and when you can join a picket line.

We will also be having a picnic on the grass outside the Old Town Hall from 12.30 to 1.30 pm on 10th July – the branch will provide sandwiches and refreshments - all you need to do is bring a deckchair, and because many schools are likely to be closed please bring your kids as well.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

3 local NHS Trusts have expressed an interest in running Weston General Hospital

The following is the press release issued by Weston Hospital today:

Three NHS Trusts come forward to run Weston

Following the recent announcement by Weston Area Health NHS Trust that it was seeking an NHS partner in a 50 mile radius to either merge with or acquire Weston, three different NHS Trusts have expressed an interest in joining forces with the North Somerset Trust.

These are (in no particular order):-

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust

Taunton and Musgrove Park NHS Foundation Trust

Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Reacting to the news Nick Wood, Chief Executive Weston Area Health NHS Trust, said:

“We are delighted that these Trusts have come forward. This is testament to Weston’s growing reputation as a Trust able to deliver high quality clinical and personalised patient care and we welcome the opportunity to become part of any one of them.

“There are another two stages to go in the process.

“All three Trusts will have to submit formal tenders to us by the middle of August and we’ll be working with all three to give them any extra information they may need to assist them in doing that. Then, using the strict criteria we’ve laid down in the business case for Weston, we’ll carefully evaluate each application and announce the successful Trust in October.”
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Monday, 16 June 2014

Community Forum on Austerity - Taunton - 26th June at 7 pm

Dealing with Austerity in Taunton - A Community Forum on
Thursday 26 June at 7 pm (until approximately 8.45 pm)
at the Friends Meeting House, Bath Place, Taunton

The Steering Committee of Taunton and West Somerset Anti-Austerity Community Campaign is inviting you to attend a forum to discuss the impact of austerity measures on the people of Taunton and some of the ways in which these are being addressed. A panel of speakers will each make a short presentation at the outset. After this we will open up the discussion to the floor, taking questions to members of the panel, comments and experiences that anyone would like to share. Our speakers will then be given an opportunity to sum up if they wish.

We hope that through our discussions we will be able to build up a broad picture of the effects of austerity in our local communities and know what is being done to tackle it. We do hope that you will be able to come and, if you would like to, have your say. We also hope that you will pass this invitation on to any organisation or individual who might be interested in attending...and we thank you in advance for doing so.

Our panel currently includes speakers from:
Taunton Food Bank
Pardoes (Solicitors)
Taunton Team Chaplaincy and

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

TUC March and Rally in London on 18th October - Coach from Weston super Mare and Clevedon

The TUC has organised a mass demonstration in support of Fair Pay on 18th October. There will be a march through central London, followed by a rally in Hyde Park. The branch will be putting on a free coach for UNISON members and their families. The coach will pick up from Locking Road car park in Weston super Mare at 7 am and Castlewood in Clevedon at 7.30 am. Non-UNISON members are welcome to join us but there will be a small charge. Please let us know if you’re interested in attending by emailing or phoning 01934 634759.

More information on the TUC demonstration can be found on the march website:

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Weston Area Health Trust to look at NHS Only Partners - UNISON Press Release

The following has been issued as a press release today:


Members of North Somerset UNISON working at Weston General Hospital are over the moon today at the news that the hospital has decided to stop its search for a private partner, and instead look at merging with another local NHS Trust or be taken over by a local NHS Foundation Trust. North Somerset UNISON spokesperson Helen Thornton said: “We think this is a triumph for common sense, as well as the huge opposition locally to a private company running our local hospital. Since the procurement process started just over a year and a half ago, members of North Somerset UNISON along with members of the local campaign group Protect Our NHS have campaigned against Weston Hospital being run by a private company, because we believe that NHS services should be run by the NHS and not by private companies who put profit before people. Local opposition to the privatisation of Weston Hospital has been huge. Our local paper ran an online poll asking readers whether they wanted their hospital run by a private company – the response was an overwhelming No. Members of the Weston Hospital Campaign group have been out on the streets and collected hundreds of signatures from people who oppose the privatisation of our NHS. The Hospital Campaign group has also raised issues in the media around the transparency of the process, and the potential conflict of interest of some of those involved. We have always believed that if local people come together to protest against something that they believe is wrong, that they can have an impact – today’s announcement proves us right. Those that say that people don’t care who NHS services are run by as long as they are free at the point of use are wrong – people want their NHS services to be provided by the NHS.”

Helen continued: “Although we are pleased by today’s announcement, we cannot understand why the hospital didn’t choose to make it an NHS only procurement process right from the beginning, and we wonder what the cost of the process has been so far – money which could have been better spent providing essential services. It is also our view that this morning’s statement by that hospital that in their words it is their “belief, shared by local commissioners and the NHS TDA… that ‘NHS Only’ will keep our improved performance trajectory on track and maintain high levels of clinical and patient care. Looking to the long-term future it’s also the best option to provide sustainable services for the local population and our staff who care for them” is a damning indictment of private sector provision of NHS services.”

“Staff at Weston General Hospital have been working with this cloud hanging over them for almost 2 years. The uncertainty over who would run the hospital has also negatively impacted on the recruitment of new staff. As a result we are pleased that the hospital’s Chief Executive has given credit to staff who have worked so hard, and under such difficult circumstances to deliver major improvements at the hospital. In our view this also demonstrates that the NHS doesn’t need private sector involvement to improve.”

“As far as UNISON is concerned we now want to engage in the process, which will see a shortlist of bidders being put together by July, with a preferred bidder selected by October, and the formal process of either a merge or takeover, including staff transfer, completed by April 2015.”

The news is also on UNISON's national website:

Weston Hospital to seek NHS Partners Only!

The following statement has been issued by Weston Hospital today:

New ‘NHS only’ partnership route for Weston Area Health NHS Trust

Ending almost two years of uncertainty, Weston Area Health NHS Trust has announced today that with the support of local health commissioners and the NHS Trust Development Authority, it has now decided to seek a partner for the Trust from within the NHS

Weston will now either merge with another NHS Trust, or be acquired by an NHS Foundation Trust in a 50 mile radius. The open market procurement process will end and the Trust expects to announce the successful bidder in autumn 2014.

The ‘NHS only’ merger/acquisition programme has been agreed as the result of significant improvements in clinical services, quality, patient experience and financial stability at Weston.

Over the last year the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has lowered the Trust’s risk rating substantially. The Trust has exceeded national performance targets in A&E and Referral to Treatment and in 2013-2014 reduced its ongoing financial deficit by an additional £1.25 million.

Alongside this, the Trust has identified challenges in the medium to long-term of filling medical staff vacancies which could result in the Trust experiencing difficulties in meeting the demands of a modern-day NHS . These challenges could also impact on maintaining the improvements in quality and performance already achieved. So the Trust, NTDA and local commissioners are in firm agreement that a more formal clinical collaboration and partnership with another Trust must be found.

Commenting about the announcement, Nick Wood, Chief Executive, Weston Area Health NHS Trust said:

“Previously, an ‘NHS only’ route was not an option, but that’s now changed. Due to the fantastic commitment of all our staff, significant improvements across the Trust have put us in a much stronger position than we were 18 months ago when the procurement process first began.

“Fundamentally, Weston must decide how best to respond to the needs of our patients. Clinical recruitment now remains our biggest challenge. New formal collaborations and partnerships will add recruitment value to the Trust - essential if we going to attract enough specialist doctors to fill existing and future vacancies and maintain a robust clinical workforce.

“Weston is the smallest acute Trust in the country” he continued. “Work conducted with NHS North Somerset over the last five years clearly demonstrates that the Trust cannot satisfy the requirements to become a Foundation Trust or find an option that is financially and clinically sustainable as a stand-alone organisation.

“Our belief, shared by local commissioners and the NHS TDA, is that ‘NHS Only’ will keep our improved performance trajectory on track and maintain high levels of clinical and patient care. Looking to the long-term future it’s also the best option to provide sustainable services for the local population and our staff who care for them.”

Professor Stephen Dunn, Director at the NHS Trust Development Authority said:

“As the Trust works to get to grip with issues like the need to provide a broad range of services seven days a week, a solution which sees them merging quickly with or being acquired by another NHS organisation will put them in the best position to respond to patients’ needs.

“Weston has been delivering high quality, timely care to patients for some time” he continued, “And they have delivered key A&E and referral to treatment standards.

It is crucial that patients continue to experience this good care and treatment. The best way to achieve this is by rapidly finding the NHS partner that can ensure patients in Weston continue to receive high quality services for the foreseeable future.”

It is hoped that the decision on the successful acquiring or merging NHS organisation will be made around the end of October 2014 with all formal agreements anticipated to be in place by April 2015. During this process there will be an opportunity for the public to make their views known.

Further Questions and Answers

1. What does this mean – who will be expected to merge or acquire Weston?

An ‘NHS Only’ process has been opened. Only NHS Foundation Trusts or NHS Trusts within 50 miles can submit a bid to either merge if they are a Trust, or acquire, if they are a Foundation Trust Weston Area Health NHS Trust.

2. When will do you expect the merger/acquisition to happen – what is the timetable?

A full schedule is now in place, these are all subject to change but we anticipate:

•End of October 2014 - we expect to announce the preferred bidder.
•December 2014 – March 2015 we hope to announce the successful bidder.
•April 2015 - we aim to have the formal process completed.

3. Is there a preferred NHS partner?

No. The partner will be agreed on the basis of the strength of their business case in meeting five key objectives that have been clearly set out for them.

4. With such significant improvements at Weston do you really need an ‘NHS Only’ acquisition or merger ?

•Yes. Weston is the smallest acute Trust in the country.
•The Trust cannot satisfy the requirements to become a Foundation Trust or find an option that is financially and clinically sustainable as a stand-alone organisation.
•We are required by law to have a management structure that meets the requirements of the Health & Social Care Bill 2012.

5. Who is going to decide on who the new Trust is going to be?

•The Trust and the NHS Trust Development Authority (NHS TDA) will establish a project board consisting of local health economy (Clinical Commissioning Groups and other organisations like North Somerset Council) and Trust representatives to manage the transaction.
•This team will make a recommendation for approval for the NHS TDA and Secretary of state.

6. What’s the background to procurement process

The open market procurement process ‘Securing the Future’ began in October 2012. The North Somerset health community has a long history of financial challenge, and these financial challenges will only get bigger in the future.

There is growing national recognition that it is better for patients if the most routine healthcare is delivered very locally - in GP surgeries or at home – and the most complex healthcare is delivered in large, regional specialist hospitals.

Weston has explored all of the options to meet these challenges, ranging from achieving Foundation Trust status to developing an Integrated Care Organisation. Prior to its disestablishment, the Strategic Health Authority, together with the Trust concluded that, having exhausted all other possible options, the best solution to reduce the need for future financial support was to find an innovative partner to help run services at the Trust more sustainably.