Throughout the Covid pandemic the Probation trade unions have worked hard to engage with all of the employers where Napo is recognised. Your elected representatives have played a major role in helping to suppress the spread of infection amongst staff and service users by way of involvement in regional consultation and especially the vitally important, risk assessments of premises and operational practices.
At last week’s meeting of Napo’s National Executive Committee (NEC), a number of alarming reports were received (mainly from NEC members employed by the NPS) of extremely unhelpful or in some cases highly irresponsible, messages to staff to the effect that operations would ‘soon be back to normal’ and that ‘staff would be returning to offices soon.’
The Covid attrition statistics in the UK are among the highest in Europe per million people, and around the third worst across the globe in terms of fatality rates. Even taking into account the woefully late response by Government to initiate protective measures a year ago, and secure suitable PPE supplies for front line workers and two national lockdown periods, the threat from Covid remains real despite the welcome advances in the vaccination programme.
It is a fact that vaccination provides a degree of immunity for an individual but does not in itself prevent the spread of infection by a vaccinated person to other people. Even when the second round of vaccinations have been delivered to the majority of the UK population, it is already clear that some forms of protective measures and social distancing will need to be in place for the foreseeable future.
These protocols will equally apply to the Probation service, Cafcass and Probation Northern Ireland and the CRC’s up until the end of their contracts in June.
At national level the trade unions meet on a twice weekly basis with NPS senior leaders and fortnightly with the Director General Probation to review the planning for potential restoration of services. This has resulted in clear statements about what has been agreed being issued to all staff which are not open to local interpretation. Similar dialogue also takes place with senior leaders in the employers referenced above.
In light of the extremely concerning reports from our NEC members we urged the Director General and senior NPS leaders to issue a collective message to reinforce the importance of adhering to the nationally agreed position. We have today again had to make the point with senior leaders that there are still too many instances of misinterpretation taking place.
Napo will continue to press senior management whenever it is necessary to protect and promote the interests of our members during this critical period in the fightback against Covid.