Report of Group Secretaries Meeting 24.9.03

Delegates to the 2003 Group Secretaries meeting in London

The President, Bob McArtney, opened the meeting by welcoming the Group Secretaries.

back to top

Union Structure
Some progress has been made on the plans for a Healthcare Science OAC on which pharmacy will be represented along with three other groups. There will be two representatives from pharmacy and two each from the Life Sciences, Physiological Measurement and Physical Sciences groups. In addition, each of the 12 UK Amicus regions will also have two reps, so the OAC will number 32 people in total. Amicus is developing terms of reference for the group and we need to ensure that pharmacy is properly represented and influential.

The Pharmacy Group will include pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and other staff working in pharmacy. The Pharmacy Group will put its perspective on the PRB claim and negotiate it within the OAC. The OAC will then need to negotiate with the rest of the joint union group within the NHS Staff Council.

Local Amicus structures are also changing, although this is only at a very early stage of development. There are likely to be NHS branches created where they do not already exist.

back to top

Group Boundaries
These are being reviewed to see if they need to change to match the new Amicus regional boundaries.

back to top

There will be an article in the next edition of 'ghp' about the website. There are Group pages which can be used for publicising future meetings etc. The Group Secretaries pages are password protected and currently hold the pages of the old Group Secretaries Handbook. Don Page, Organisation Secretary, is in the process of checking to see how much of that information is still relevant and should be updated.

The members’ pages are also password protected, and the password is available from District members. This should not be divulged to non-members, as it is one of the things you get for paying your GHP subscription.

back to top

Membership stood at 3150 as of 15th September 2003.

back to top

The GHP calendar was available at and was intended to be a national database of events that could be used by groups to ensure local meetings did not clash with national ones.

The Group Delegates Meeting had been suspended in June. Any matters that a group feels should be debated nationally could therefore be submitted as a motion to Council. The 6-month report on GDM motions will appear in November and in 'ghp' thereafter. The new Amicus rule book can be downloaded from the MSF website and has now been agreed. It has been noted that the application form for election to Guild Council is not ideal and it will be revamped.

back to top

AGM and motions
An article by the President about the AGM had appeared in 'ghp'. A lot of work was being done at the moment to ensure that the 2004 AGM proceeds smoothly. The AGM quorum may be adjusted. It was suggested that, if Group Secretaries could not attend the AGM, but one of their members was attending the Annual National Conference, that member could attend and report back to the Group.

back to top

Any Other Business

Medicines Management Audit
it was noted that Audit Scotland were carrying out this audit with very short timescale for response.

back to top

Annual National Conference
The 2005 conference was to be a joint GHP/UKCPA conference in Hinckley.

back to top

Pharmacist Survey
a questionnaire entitled "NHSP Specialist Pay Research Pharmacists Survey" had been sent to HR Directors for completion. It asks about the number of staff on each grade, difficulties in recruitment, is EDC mandatory etc. The deadline for return in 10th October. This should not have been issued as it is related to AfC and should have been agreed in partnership. Further details can be found in the report from the Guild Council meeting 25.9.03.

back to top

Gail Cartmail
Gail Cartmail and Bob McArtney

Gail Cartmail, Head of Health, attended the meeting and informed everyone that the NHS was the third largest employer in the world, after the Chinese Red Army and the Indian Railways. This made it the world’s biggest employer of women. She spoke about Agenda For Change and Foundation Hospitals. Foundation Hospitals were to be locked in to AfC and would implement it at the same time as the rest of the NHS. The freedoms enjoyed by Foundation Hospitals appear to be reducing all the time.

It was noted that Recruitment and Retention Premia (RRP) did not appear to be working well in the Early Implementer Trusts (EIs). G Cartmail is therefore pressing the Joint Secretariat Group (JSG) to discuss this and also on-call, now. She has flagged up the GHP position on the national setting of the RRP to the DoH, but their only response has been "we hear what you are saying". She was aware of the band 8 problems, but said that it would be better to revisit them once profiles were available to show how big a problem it really was.

Amicus have increased the capacity at Whitehall College for reps training and more reps were needed. The modules for the 5 days training could also be delivered in other ways the meeting was told.

The question was to be asked about adding another non-core element to the Knowledge and Skills Framework - medicines. It was also noted that the monitoring of the KSF was extremely thorough. It had not been well publicised as yet, but it was very important.

back to top

Agenda For Change
Ron Pate then dealt with Agenda For Change. He gave a short history of how we have arrived at where we are now. Although most of the posts listed in the DoH document are clinical, he thought it unlikely that technical posts would be banded differently from the clinical ones. He is also working on RRP and maintained that local negotiation of the national RRP is not acceptable.

Tony West gave an update on how far Guys & St Thomas' Trust (GSTT) were through the process. It was noted that although the Job Analysis Questionnaire could be completed in 5-10 hours, their experience was that to do the job properly could take up to 30 man hours. Sue Hastings, DoH Job Evaluation expert was of the opinion that if there were less than 200 of a particular job nationally, it was probably not worth doing a national profile.

There was then a general update of the situation in some of the EIs. GSTT, Sunderland and Aintree had profiled about 60% of staff so far. All were convinced that they would be unable to meet the December 1st deadline set by the DoH. There were real issues within nursing on the unsocial hours part of the agreement. There was also concern about AfC being deliverable within the cash envelope specified by the DoH.

Dave Miller had been trained in Job Evaluation. The course lasted 4 days and provided an NVQ at the end of it. What is becoming clear is that the knowledge and skills and freedom to act factors are key in being able to match against national profiles. There were actually a lot of local agreements that were required within the process. He had responded to his Trust that no staff were on-call; there was only an EDC. There was some discussion over a Trust in Wales where the HR department had ruled their EDC rota of a week at a time non-compliant with the Working Time Directive (WTD). It was noted that analysis of intensity of calls would be necessary to determine whether this was the case.

Dave Thornton from Aintree said that all nurses except specialist nurses had been matched and received confirmation of this. Because annual leave was now being done in hours, rather than in days, part time staff were losing out and they were still not entitled to overtime payments until they had worked over 37.5 hours.

It was also pointed out that although weekly hours fell from 39 to 37.5 immediately, you could not refuse to work the 39.5 hours for two years. How this would work for those in band 8, who were not entitled to overtime, remained unclear.

An update from each EI site was planned for the next GHP AfC bulletin.

Colin Rodden
25 September 2003

back to top