Promoting partnership working in the NHS

South West SPF


South West RSPF:

The South West Regional SPF brings together management and staff side representatives on strategic issues for the South West Region.


The South East Regional SPF is co-chaired by Steven Keith and Emma Wood, HR Directors in the South West and  Mike Cracknell, Regional Officer, UNISON.








To provide a partnership approach to issues affecting the NHS workforce where a South West view is needed or would be useful.

In particular it will:

  • provide constructive comments on implementation at a formative stage
  • contribute ideas on the workforce implications of the implementation of policy
  • promote effective communications between partners
  • promote good practice across the South West
  • feed South West region views into national groups including NHS Staff Council, the Social Partnership Forum and the stakeholder forum
  • keep the patient at the centre of everything they do.

All partners recognise the importance of good formal and informal working relations, built on trust and shared responsibility, while still respecting difference.

All partners commit to adopt the following principles in their dealings with each other:

  • Building trust and a mutual respect for each other’s roles and responsibilities.


  • A positive and constructive approach.
  • Early discussion of emerging issues and maintaining dialogue on policy and priorities.
  • Openness, honesty and transparency in communications.
  • Where appropriate, confidentiality and agreed external positions.
  • Making the best use of resources.

Shared approach

This partnership agreement is underpinned by shared values and common purpose. In particular, partners:

  • Have a shared commitment to continuous improvement, including access to high quality services and delivering value for money to the public.
  • Believe the NHS should promote good practice in all areas of staff management, including equality and diversity, staff development and a commitment to security of employment.
  • Agree that the NHS should take a collective approach to support staff who may be affected by service changes.

Membership of the partnership will comprise of representatives from:

  • Employers in the NHS in the South West, from a cross section of organisations and job roles, including commissioners, HEE and local authority colleagues.
  • South West trade unions party to the Agenda for Change agreement, plus the BMA, MiP & HCSA.
  • NHS Employers.

The South West RSPF meets twice yearly, and holds a jointly arranged partnership conference annually.  Additional meetings will be held as required.

2019 meetings

Dates will be shared as soon as agreed.

Following the November 2015 partnership conference, Somerset Partnership NHS Trust were invited to present their See Something Say Something initiative to the Minister, Ben Gummer MP.  The trust subsequently went on to win the 2016 HPMA Award for partnership working.

The South West RSPF supported the development of an approach to partnership working and engagement around Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs).  The Devon STP partnership forum was established in September 2016 and their terms of reference are shared here.

NHS Employers South Engagement Team

  • Liz Gambrell, Area Head of Engagement South T: 07880 738616

  • Amy Fedarb, Engagement Lead South Central T: 07568 10849

  • Jenny Hawkins, Senior Engagement Support Officer South

          T:07568 108489,

For further information, please email SPF South at:

Twitter: @NHSE_Engagement


Joint agreed statement on shielding COVID-19 

To support those returning to work from shielding the South West RSPF were keen to issue a joint statement encouraging a supportive approach to returning colleagues. The statement was agreed by the SW RSPF on 7 July and includes the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust approach to supporting the safe and positive return to work for shielding staff. This approach was held up by SW RSPF colleagues as an example of good practice. The statement includes links to the Gloucestershire approach as well as the NHSI/E resources.

The statement in full:

The South West Strategic Partnership Forum is committed to ensuring colleagues shielding receive adequate guidance and advice as they near the end of their shielding period. Shielders are our most vulnerable colleagues and have been isolated for a number of months. It is anticipated they will be allowed to return to work from 1 August 2020. In line with government advice, staff are still being encouraged to work from home and colleagues shielding should be risk assessed to ensure where a return is necessary, that this is managed in a safe manner. Trusts and Staff Side are committed to ensuring staff at risk have adequate assessments and arrangements in place to mitigate any risk. This involves engagement with staff and the co-production of solutions to ensure their ongoing safety. We recognise the need to work together at this particularly anxious time. Many Trusts have provided colleagues and managers alike with guidance on how to manage this transition and examples of approaches have been given.

As well as this statement, the trust has developed a number of resources to help workforce leaders support colleagues in returning to work after shielding. 


As conversations began regarding Phase 2 of the response to COVID-19, the SW RSPF moved to thinking how they might support reset, maintaining some of the positives from the pandemic, whilst building on their pre-COVID-19 ambitions to support the introduction of a just and learning culture/civility saves lives approach across the South West in partnership.  

On 8 July 2020 the SWRSPF held a virtual just and learning culture workshop attended by over 80 colleagues, including a National SPF colleague, Amanda Oates from MerseyCare, South West HRDs, Deputy HRDs, Regional FTOs and Staff Side chairs. 

The event was the first in a series of activities to begin the development of a road map to engage employers to commit to introducing a just culture approach through all policies and processes. The event also focused on reflecting on important lessons learned to date from COVID-19, in particular in respect of the impact on key staff groups such as those from the BAME community.

A task and finish group is currently being established to maintain momentum and engage with key leads eg. patient safety colleagues, to continue progress. The SW RSPF has also worked with the South West Regional Director for HR/OD at NHSI/E to garner support for this approach through the Regional People Board at CEO level.