On the 22nd October 2020, I wrote to the agency and raised concerns on the COVID-19 risk to NCOA members at the NWH. Besides being in regular contact with the agency, this morning I received the attached formal response to my earlier letter . The letter also provides information following the PM’s recent announcement of national lockdown.
Re: NCOA Formal Letter RE concerns regarding Covid-19 cases at NWH.
Thank you for your letter dated 22nd October and for raising your concerns regarding Covid-19 cases in our recent Trade Union engagement meeting.
You will be aware through our regular engagement, that the Agency is working very closely with government to ensure we remain aligned with the current position. This position is fast moving, and we are on the front foot in relation to issues around working arrangements, health & safety and ensuring our sites remain Covid-19 secure.
On 31st October, the Government announced new national restrictions, including what they mean for working arrangements, which will replace the current tier arrangements. This reflects that Covid-19 case numbers are rising across the UK and in other countries. The Agency is now very quickly working through what this means for our working arrangements and our people. We are aware that this is an unsettling time for all officers and will be providing more details as soon as possible.
Until Thursday 5th November, the Government have confirmed that the relevant regional guidance is still applicable. We published guidance on our Covid-19 pages which details the Agency position in relation to those who live or work in each of these tiers, and the Communication on 31st October from Director ( Named) confirms that individuals should continue with their planned working pattern until additional details are confirmed. We will continue to issue regular communications to our officers to keep them up to date.
In relation to your letter, you will be aware that the government declared Warrington as very high risk and has moved this to a Tier 3 location. Therefore at present, officers based in Warrington will only need to work on site if their role cannot be done fully effectively at home. Officers are not be required to attend site on rotation if their role can be done fully effectively from home.
We also completed a review, through Silver, of the training provision at Olympic House. And the key points are below:
- As key workers it is vital that we continue delivery of essential training unless there is a national lockdown with restricted travel.
- As Warrington is our main training site it is not possible to find alternative locations for many of our courses, but this is being explored in relation to each course.
- All training that is suitable for remote delivery through workbooks and over the telephone was converted in March and has been delivered that way since then.
- Classroom delivery has been restricted to mandatory training (required through legislation or NCA policy) and currently 44 individual courses meet this criteria. We continue to review this and have identified 5 further courses that can be delivered digitally when the functionality is available. A further two courses, Creative and critical thinking and Core Skills in Comms Data, have been put on hold.
- Course participants are limited to those for whom the training is essential to their role.
- Some courses can only be run with minimum numbers, so it is essential that Officers attend, so that it does not adversely impact colleagues. Short-notice waiting lists are drawn from if Officers have to withdraw due to displaying symptoms or being instructed to isolate.
- We have introduced an out of hours contact process for when a student tests positive for COVID-19 after attending an L&D event which will allow L&D to share the classroom attendance list with the Covid team so attendees can be notified quickly to self-isolate.
As confirmed above, given the developments in government guidance, we are now reviewing both our working arrangements and training position again.
The safety of our officers is of utmost importance and we will continue to ensure we do all we can to maintain a safe working environment whilst continuing in our vital role of protecting the public. I will ensure you have sight of developments as we work through what the new national restrictions will mean for the NCA.
(Named) – Head of HR Expert Services
I am now actively engaging with the NCA on this developing situation and will update NCOA Members in due course.
Steve BOND - National Officer.