Workforce issues and engaging and involving staff are a central theme of the NHS Next Stage Review in building a modernised workforce. This is very clearly demonstrated in the guide Social Enterprise – Making a Difference: a guide to the Right to Request, which will see the birth of a more plural service with autonomous providers. The extension of the NHS pension scheme to NHS employees who transfer under TUPE to social enterprises providing NHS funded services is a clear signal that there is no holding back and 2009 will see a large wave of TUPE transfers.

On a separate and procedural note, we are going back in time to the position pre-October 2004 with the repeal in April 2009 of the statutory dispute resolution procedures. There will be no automatically unfair dismissals for failing to follow the three-stage procedural steps when dismissing an employee or considering a grievance, and employees will no longer be required to issue a grievance before issuing a tribunal claim. A revised ACAS Code of Practice will be brought into effect and a failure to follow the code, if unreasonable, will result in an adjustment of compensation of up to 25 per cent.