Published: 15/01/2004, Volume II4, No. 5888 Page 8 9

Senior NHS managers have raised serious objections to a proposal by their union, the First Division Association, for the creation of a hybrid representative organisation in partnership with public services union Unison.

Around 60, 000 NHS employees would be eligible to join the new organisation, Managers in Partnership, which would be set up and funded jointly by the FDA and Unison. But the 10-strong NHS section committee (NHSSC) of the FDA, which represents 1,100 members working in the NHS, has resigned in protest, saying that the deal is being imposed without proper consultation and will be bad for members.

Although affiliated to the Trades Union Congress, the FDA, which represents senior civil servants across the public sector, is apolitical. Unison, however, represents all sections of the NHS, is affiliated to the Labour Party and is strong on political campaigning.

Jan Filochowski, chief executive of the performance and development support team for the NHS in the South East, and one of the NHSSC members who resigned, said: 'The FDA has to be apolitical and objective as managers are implementing government policies such as foundation trusts which Unison is publicly fighting against.'

NHS section committe member Catriona Renfrew, director of planning for Greater Glasgow Health Board, said the FDA has barred her committee from telling members about its objections - including the fact that FDA members would compulsorily become members of Unison - during a consultation in September. She said they had also been barred from telling members that the committee has resigned en masse.

Another NHSSC member, Isle of Wight Healthcare trust chief executive Graham Elderfield, said: 'We have tried really hard to get across the views of the NHS managers we represent to the FDA officers, but we feel we have not been heard and have not been able to properly represent the views of NHS managers.'

An FDA spokesperson said he was 'disappointed'with the views of the NHSSC and denied that they had been gagged or that members had not been informed of the proposals. 'All NHS members have been sent details of the proposals.

No decisions have been taken yet.'