FDA Centenary project

The FDA, my former employer and one of my oldest clients, celebrated its centenary in 2019. As an ex-editor of the FDA’s Public Service Magazine, the union asked me to lead a major research and publishing project on the history and development of the FDA and the UK civil service over the last century.

This involved hundreds of hours of research, then writing and editing three colour supplements on the history of the union and a souvenir brochure. I also collaborated with FDA staff and a production company to produce a short promotional video for the centenary celebrations.

Throughout the project I worked closely with FDA staff and elected members of the executive committee to identify the key themes for the research and to make sure the project fitted in with the FDA’s overall strategy for its centenary year.

I held numerous interviews with key figures including three cabinet secretaries, former union general secretaries and presidents, and FDA staff past and present. I also interviewed and chaired round table discussions with civil servants involved in some of the key events in British government, including devolution, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the setting up of the Crown Prosecution Service and the Arms to Iraq scandal.

The research threw up a number of revelations including the story of the FDA’s first woman leader as far back as 1944, the union’s early support for equal pay for women and employment rights for gay civil servants, and the role of a Tory MP is founding the union itself.

The supplements and brochure were extremely well received by FDA members and the video won an award from the TUC. Overall, the project made a significant contribution to the success of the FDA’s centenary celebrations.

MiP election briefing & policy research

In the run-up to the 2015 general election, I worked with Managers in Partnership (MiP) to develop the union’s policy positions and produce a comprehensive election briefing for members. MiP is the trade union formed jointly by the FDA and Unison to represent senior managers in the NHS and social care.

I researched and wrote two in-depth discussion documents for MiP’s elected national committee, which set out the policy options on areas such as NHS funding and reform, management practice and accountability, patient safety, staff pay, terms and conditions, workplace culture and equality. This involved extensive consultations both inside and outside the organisation — with political parties, NHS bodies and think tanks such as the King’s Fund and the Health Foundation.

This work was boiled down into a shorter policy briefing sent to all MiP members early in the election campaign. The briefing document set out the key issues facing the NHS and MiP’s position and included short, clear messages and questions for members to use on social media, at hustings or in communicating with candidates.

We updated these policy documents for MiP’s campaigning work during the 2017 and 2019 elections, and they will form the starting point for a more wide-ranging policy review planned for 2020-21.

Download the 2015 Election Briefing