Report of Group Secretaries Meeting 13.6.01



Delegates to the 2001 Group Secretaries meeting in Birmingham

In her opening remarks, President Helen Remington informed Group Secretaries that no election had been held for Council seats because of the withdrawal of one of the candidates. She also noted that some members may have received their AGM papers late due to the postal strike.

She informed the meeting that the GHP Executive Committee would be meeting with Roger Spiller the next day and GHP administration would be one of the topics being discussed. Council will also be having discussions on the options for the future of the Guild. It was noted that the status quo was not an option. It appears MSF only want to deal with terms and conditions matters. Unfortunately, a wide interpretation of the 1970s instrument of joining ASTMS is possible.

There has been considerable erosion of administrative support since the 1970s. Some is due to technological improvements such as electronic distribution of papers but there are also less meetings. The number of whole time equivalents was down, but the work was still being done. There are a range of options; up to, and including, reconsidering the MSF connection. GHP benefits considerably from MSFs Labour Party connections, but involvement with the All Party Pharmacy Committee might be an option. Additionally, the President attended a meeting with Alan Milburn along with a group of senior MSF officials. She took the opportunity to make points on patient care and clinical governance with reference to Public Private Partnerships (PPP). Pharmacists were excluded from the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) but not PPP. This would not have been possible without the MSF links. Group Secretaries were reassured that, although these were turbulent times with MSF, the industrial relations services will be secure whatever happens. GHP has never had any concerns with the Section General Secretary or Regional Officer support at local level - only with central administration.

Group Secretaries were then invited to detail their problems with central administration. These were membership records - accuracy and information availability - and little or no response from head office. It was agreed that there would have been a lot more issues brought up if the Professional secretary was not available.

After the departure of Roger Kline and the subsequent reorganisation, Ian Simpson had been made accountable to Jackie Carnell, the Director of CPHVA. It was made clear that there was nothing about the GHP becoming part of, or subservient to, the CPHVA. A successful relationship has been developing over the last three months and Ian feels more integrated into MSF than in the past. Jackie Carnell is attempting to identify the GHP budget and it is hoped that this might happen this time.

International duties will also be under discussion. It was noted that as the RPSGB has no representation on EAHP, GHP is the only UK representative. On joining ASTMS, this was made clear and supported by ASTMS. It was suggested by a delegate that if MSF withdrew support for this, GHP should walk away from MSF. MSF would lose out in Europe as much as anyone else. EAHP is also a political forum as it inputs into the EU Commissions, Parliament and the Council of Europe. One result has been a common syllabus for post graduate training, and the UK has led on these discussions.

Group Secretaries were asked how members felt about the new journal. Since it is not yet self funding, it will also be discussed. It was thought to be a very useful update from the centre and that is should continue. Group Secretaries were also asked whether it should go to every hospital pharmacist, member or not. It was thought it might increase recruitment and the extra cost would be covered by increased advertising revenue.

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GHP Website - www.ghp.org.uk
A demonstration of the new website was given and there was a major discussion on what information should be accessible to all visitors and what should be restricted to members. e.g.

It was noted that pay information on the website would be greater if it could be restricted to members only. A balance is required on public and private information. It was hoped to launch the site at the BPC in September.

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IT Interest Group
It is hoped to have an initial study day and form working groups to take matters forward. 40-50 expressions of interest have been received.

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Recruitment campaign
It was planned to produce a small card detailing 5 or 6 reasons for joining GHP. Those mentioned in the discussion were

  • legal protection
  • employment protection
  • access to quality educational events and publications
  • contributing to health policy
  • indemnity cover - no need for insurance
  • belonging to local and national networks of pharmacists
  • pay negotiations
It was noted that subscriptions contribute to the resources required for involvement in pay discussions and the more members the greater the voice.
The meeting was informed that primary care pharmacists were being charged more for professional indemnity insurance as it was a new area. Not all primary care pharmacists realise that indemnity cover is vital if they are involved in preparing patient group directions.
The discussion then turned to how local Groups and reps could be involved. An information package should be sent to members to ask them to recruit new members. It could also go to Chief Pharmacists for inclusion in their staff induction programme. An application form is also to be printed in 'ghp' in October.

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Changes to the National Weekend School
There is to be more emphasis on making the professional programme more highly specified. The future may or may not involve the use of conference organisers to deal with all the administration. GHP are taking the survey results and working with them. It is no longer physically possible for members to take on the organisation of a Weekend School in addition to their own work.

However, as the event is one of the main income generators for GHP, it is necessary to balance income with what is achievable. GHP is forging closer links with UKCPA to see how we can obtain a win:win outcome with them on conferences. It was noted that there was a problem with the image of the Weekend School and a need to sell it more effectively. The survey showed that few people qualifying within the last decade attend the Weekend School. Other than from the organising group(s), there is little input from any other groups around the country on what they perceive as the burning issues for the Weekend School.

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Agenda For Change
There is a meeting of the MSF NHS National Advisory Committee on 10th July to consider Agenda For Change (AFC). The situation around AFC is fluid and different impressions are given by different people on whether it will be published in August. There is still a considerable amount of work to be done on Job Evaluation. The testing of the factors did not give an ideal result and is being looked at again, and there is still the issue of the weighting of the factors. The Terms and Conditions proposals put to staff side have been unacceptable and have included -

  • fully flexible 24/7 working with no difference between working days i.e. Saturday and Sunday paid and treated the same as Wednesday.
  • Flat rate of pay with percentage increases in the rate where employees fall into different categories related to flexibility
  • salary, hours and holidays decided nationally and other things decided locally
  • various allowances being looked at e.g. flat rate of 2000 for on-call

Since some radiographers are earning 15,000p.a. for on-call, if this is reduced then there will be a massive loss of voluntary on-call rotas. Management is now looking at a knowledge and skills framework for career progression through the pay spine.
Management side(MS) are anticipating a significant increase in the salary bill and they cannot see the Treasury sanctioning a 'big bang' approach to implementation. MSF takes the view that as long as most members come out of it advantaged, the union will take appropriate action against those who do not want to implement it.
The next 4-5 weeks might bring more information. It is also rumoured that if Scotland doesn't like the proposals it will go it's own way.
A briefing will be sent to all reps shortly on the latest situation.

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Pay

As the MS are of the opinion that Whitley is in decline and that AFC is going to sort all ills, they are only prepared to meet Staff Side (SS) on a joint Chairs and Secretaries basis. The meeting on 12th June discussed EDA, M1/M2 costs, the Recruitment and Retention Working Party, grading definitions and pay comparability with Speech and Language Therapists (SALTs).

EDA: In the face of hostility from MS on any discussions on EDA, SS suggested a survey of Trusts to find out where EDA has been increased, MS refused to even consider such a move. GHP has therefore decided that the only way forward is through Industrial Tribunals. To do this they need to know of both successes and refusals of EDA claims. Any information should be sent to me at scotsec@ghpscot.org.uk. Meanwhile, SS are preparing for more Whitley Council meetings next year.

Gradings: MS was "not minded to negotiate on this issue" until it was pointed out that SS were not talking about terms and conditions, but about modernising the grades to achieve the aims of the pharmacy plans. MS agreed to discuss the matter with the Department of Health Pharmacy Division.

SALT comparability: In previous years, SALTs used pharmacists and clinical psychologists as comparators for equal pay claims. They now have a pay spine based on that of clinical psychologists, which is higher than pharmacists. Pharmacists now want parity with them. The response was not hostile and MS agreed to come back on this issue. It fits in quite nicely with modernising the grading definitions.

M1/M2 costs: MS apologised for the amendment to the Advance Letter. The original statement was an error they had not noticed. The NHS Executive decides who is included and MS cannot alter that. However, MS gave SS the address of the Head of the Pay Unit at Quarry House in Leeds and suggested the GHP write to them. SS pointed out that the current use of the M1/M2 reports, where pharmacists of grade E and above are included in management costs irrespective of whether or not they are managers, mitigates against personal and service development.

It was noted that there will be no resolution to the problem of those members with discretionary points who were adversely affected by the differential pay award.

It was also noted that some employers have not yet implemented the 2000/1 or 2001/2 pay awards. Members were encouraged to claim off their employer for any detriment caused by their inefficiency in implementing the award. Detriments would include any loss of tax allowances caused by pay arrears being included in this years salary. The Inland Revenue have confirmed that tax is calculated on when the salary is paid, not when it was earned.

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GHP Strategy
The strategy was launched at the Weekend School, is available here, and the President was now looking for input into its implementation. There was then some discussion on various parts of the strategy before the meeting ended.

Leadership: the four Chief Pharmacists wish to speak to GHP on this topic.

Standards: It is likely that GHP will need to spend some money on commissioning work in this area. There are no good tools to help with capacity management, and that is one thing that is required. Standards on medication error management are also required.

Revitalising Groups: There was a lot of discussion around this issue, as most Groups appear to be in a similar situation. Suggestions included

  • central guidelines on topics Groups should be considering
  • list of Group meetings in 'ghp'
  • questionnaire to members on what they would attend
  • research presentations with a prize for the best presentation
  • guidelines in 'ghp' on what works for successful Groups
  • attendance by pharmacy students
  • meetings on any outstanding training needs identified by education and training pharmacists

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee: It was noted that Sue Sharpe and Hemant Patel were keen to talk to GHP on terms and conditions issues.

Consultant pharmacist: Should this be a protected title? Is it important to members? What would it be? What should they do? What qualifications should they have? Should we be aiming to have consultant pharmacists? The definition used for medical and nursing consultants is that they have an independent caseload. Your comments would be welcomed.

Colin Rodden
14.6.01

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