Agenda For Change Update 23.5.02

Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists

Glasgow & West of Scotland Group

Agenda For Change (AFC)

This document is based on notes taken during the presentation given by Amicus-MSF Scottish NHS Lead Officer Michael Fuller at the Annual General Meeting of the Glasgow & West of Scotland Group of the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists on 23rd May 2002. It is intended to inform those members unable to attend the meeting and is provided as a service to members of the Guild.

The process is due to come to a close in the Autumn. The present pay structure has not changed since 1948 and does not reflect current demands on the workforce. Although labelled as pay modernisation, it is important to realise that it is actually about workforce modernisation and will affect gradings, pay scale progression and terms and conditions. Three working groups have been set up to deal with these issues – job evaluation, pay progression and harmonisation of terms and conditions. The June 2002 UK Government Spending review will detail the amount of money available for implementation.

Although neither Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland have been involved in the central discussions, Scotland is the only part of the UK which has to formally adopt the AFC package subsequent to its adoption in the rest of the UK.

Job Evaluation

The scope of the project is immense. Around one million staff in thousands of different jobs. There are 67 varieties of Medical Technical Officer alone. What it will do is remove any sex discrimination and this is the area where the bulk of the discussion has taken place. The NHS has developed a job evaluation scheme to allow all posts to be evaluated. Since there are hundreds of different professions it has been very difficult and has taken three years so far. All existing job evaluation schemes have been discarded as they were unable to cope with jobs with patient contact. The evaluation is divided into 16 separate factors which are then subdivided into 5-9 headings for each factor. Emotional demands of the job are included as one of the factors. Altogether, there are 97 different components. Weightings may be applied to each, although the weightings have still to be decided. Jobs will then be differentiated into three bands; consultants, qualified (or state registered) and unqualified (or non-state registered). It is hoped that the evaluations and profiles already completed will cover 80-90% of the workforce. Until this ranking order becomes available, it is impossible for the Government to cost the exercise.

It was noted that problems would arise with job descriptions for pharmacists working within primary care and also for those working as area specialists. Mechanisms for assessing those groups not covered by current evaluations will be required. Pharmacists working in dispensaries are thought to be most at risk of losing out due to checking technicians and problems with skill mix.

Any substantial changes in a persons job description can be entered on to the computer system for re-evaluation.

Pay Progression

The scheme should introduce development of skills, by linking a persons annual increment to the acquisition of skills. This is the Knowledge and Skill Framework (KSF). Staff will be subject to annual appraisal and this will assess how the work being done matches the KSF. This means a proper annual appraisal being introduced for around 135,000 staff in Scotland.

The current proposal is for three pay spines. However, this does not make sense in equal pay terms unless they are all linked. The British Medical Association and British Dental Association will have their own pay review body. Health Professionals will be in a second pay review body and admin & clerical, ancillary and craft workers will be in a Whitley Council style negotiating forum.

This system is not yet the answer to all problems, but should be an improvement on the current systems.

Harmonisation of Terms and Conditions

There are 833 separate terms and conditions covering different holidays / overtime payments etc. The AFC package should ensure there is no distinction between staff in anything other than basic salary. Additional allowances (except regional or out of hours) will cease, there must be agreement over out of hours services and everything must be included in the basic salary. The working week could be 37.5 hours for all staff. Any additional hours worked must be recompensed appropriately.


Everything is supposed to come together by the end of July and it is hoped that a package will then be agreed by the Government, financed by the Government and distributed to all union members.

Within the NHS there will be three months of meetings to talk through the implications of the system. At the end of that period all the unions will ballot their members. Amicus-MSF will be holding workplace ballots and so it is necessary to ensure that members understand fully the implications. Reps in each department will be needed to be trained to be able to cope with the implementation and the aftermath. Amicus-MSF’s NHS National Advisory Committee will meet in October to decide if they will recommend the package to members.

If the vote is in favour of acceptance, the whole package is likely to be implemented in Scotland on April 1st 2004, although both union and management capacity is likely to be stretched fully to meet that date. There will be no early implementers in Scotland.

 Potential Problems

In Scotland, the Scottish Executive has to approve AFC, and there are bits of it which we might find unpalatable as some aspects of change are an issue. The biggest problem is over protection. If the evaluated position is lower than the persons current position, AFC could give that person three years protection of pay. In Scotland, we currently have lifetime protection on income and future increases for organisational change. It has already been flagged up to the Minister that there will be major problems if the package doesn’t give the same level of protection as for other changes. NHS Scotland wants to be an exemplar employer, but how can it be seen as such if it is reducing staff pay protection? However the Scottish Executive can make some modifications.

There is an opinion that state registration could cause difficulties with AFC if it provides a real obstacle within the system to progression. The question to be asked is to what extent the academic Degree required reflects the job actually being done and the needs of the service.

Important notes


Everyone needs to think of the best way of communicating this to members. Meetings will have to be arranged to discuss the package. Information meetings should be open to members and non-members alike as it is an ideal opportunity to recruit members. Non-members will never have a better reason to join as ballot meetings will be confined to members only.

Colin Rodden

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