Court adjourns disability network hearing
by Bernard Harbor

The Labour Court has temporarily adjourned its hearing into a dispute over clinical governance and reporting relationships in new ‘children’s disability networks’ to allow direct discussions between Fórsa and the HSE.


Its chair Kevin Foley offered a six-week period for direct talks after making it clear that, if asked to make a recommendation, the Court would rule that responsibility for deployment of clinical governance lies with the employer.


This would mean rejection of the union’s submission, which opposed the HSE’s plans to give new children’s disability network managers (CDNMs) responsibility for both clinical governance and operational line management of health and social care professionals (HSCPs) working in 86 local children’s disability networks.


The parties, who have so far failed to reach agreement despite three Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) sessions, now have until 22nd September to find common ground. Otherwise the court will rule.


Fórsa officials involved in the direct discussions, which are currently underway, believe the HSE may be willing to agree a settlement similar to that won by the union for HSCPs in an earlier tussle over clinical governance in community healthcare organisations (CHOs).


That compromise established nine one-year-long pilots, where HSCP heads of discipline retain responsibility for clinical governance of HSCP staff, but operational line management is the responsibility of network managers working in collaboration with the heads of discipline.


The agreement also brought a number of additional gains for HSCPs, including the re-establishment of the suspended manager-in-charge III posts, a practical commitment to review the career pathways for HSCPs (which is now underway), and a commitment that there would be no reduction in the number of heads of discipline.


The talks are continuing for the time being.

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