Report of Group Secretaries Meeting 21.9.05

Delegates to the 2004 Group Secretaries meeting in London

The President, Tony West, opened the meeting by welcoming the Group Secretaries.

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GHP Future Structure
Group Secretaries had been sent the latest draft of the GHP Council letter to members on the restructuring proposals tabled by Mark Jones earlier this year. The President reviewed the history of the proposals and how Council had arrived at the paper under discussion. The final version of Mark Jones' paper had not been available until June which is why nothing had been circulated to members before now.Council wanted to ensure that they will be able to carry out the functions required by members, whilst fitting in with the proposed Amicus structure. All GHP proposals have been accepted by Amicus, and a new paper will outline the differences within the GHP as it existed prior to January 2005 and under the current proposals. It was noted that GHP appeared to be the only organisation canvassing members opinions on the changes and that Amicus were quite happy with us doing so.

The changes are only meant to affect the top layer of the GHP structure as long as we are within budget and delivering what members want. If members wish to stay within Amicus, these proposals are the only way it can be achieved within rule. It is not really in members interest to vote to leave Amicus at the moment, though, as there are still significant pieces of work outstanding e.g. AfC, pay claim etc. Some issues, e.g. devolution, would have been arisen as problems under any structure. It should be noted, though, that the proposals only affect the professional part of the Guilds work. The terms and conditions work is unchanged and Council will still provide two representatives to the Healthcare science Occupational Advisory Committee.

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Questions & Answers
The President then opened the floor to the Group Secretaries for questions.

How accountable to members will the GHP officers be? This coming year will be difficult. The only people on Council will be those elected by members in each region. Council members will elect the office bearers, leaving vacancies for Regional Members of the regions whom the office bearers previously represented. There will require to be elections in these regions for a new representative. How this is to be achieved is down to Amicus. How they address the difficulty of having members who live in one region and work in another is unknown. Pharmacists have always had the choice of which group to join. The biggest downside is that the whole of Council will be up for election every two years. At present, only half of Council is up for election each year. It is thought that elections for all of the healthcare groups will be complete by late Spring 2006.

All Council members will need to be accredited reps. As this is potentially problematic for some Council members because of their positions within their organisations, Gail Cartmail has indicated that she is prepared to accredit people for national duties.

There will still be an Annual Report to members - this is seen as very positive by Amicus and other groups are likely to be asked to do the same. There can still be a meeting at which members can ask questions on the Annual Report - it just won't be called an Annual General Meeting.

Now there is no Group Delegates Meeting, how do members and Groups put motions or requests to Council? The intention is to use the web forum to proactively supply information to members and receive feedback. Alternatively, members / Groups can feed them in via their Regional Member. Under the new structure, the Chairs of the various professional groups will meet with senior Amicus officials to influence and promote Health Sector policy.

The changes should improve the way Guild Council handles its work, as the Practice and Education and Development Committees will have separate meetings. Although Council structure has remained the same for a number of years, the organisation of the Council meeting has changed several times to try to maximise efficiency. This goal has not yet been attained under the current structure, but should be under the new one.

There were concerns about the proposals for Amicus to merge with the GMB and T&G unions and the further diminution of our voice. This is one of the reasons that it is important for Council and members to engage with the union health structures. Within those we will have a bigger voice as there are 100,000 health sector members.

Members are very appreciative of the work done in creating the AfC profiles. Will the ability to do work such as this be eroded by the changes? Most of this depends upon the members of Council at the time and the effort and enthusiasm they are able to put into it. It needs members to ensure that the best people are elected from their region to go on Council. The difficulty is in ensuring Council has a good balance of experience and expertise. The development of the profiles was another example of work that was only possible with good involvement with Amicus.It isn't thought that the new structure will make a tremendous difference to this. However, negotiations under AfC are an unknown quantity as yet as is the machinery required to negotiate.

How will local Groups be affected? Some GHP district boundaries may have to change to become co-terminus with Amicus regions. The Group Secretaries Meeting is seen as useful by Gail Cartmail and Karen Reay (who is acting up in Mark Jones former post) would have attended this meeting if at all possible. These meetings should therefore continue.

Will the name "Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists" remain? To all intents and purposes, yes. It was agreed that Council members would be available to speak at local meetings called to discuss the paper going to members. This will have a simple yes or no answer to the question of whether the members support the changes.

How are Honorary Members, Honorary Vice Presidents and retired members affected? GHP should still be able to create honorary members and vice-presidents, but they and retired members will only have the rights listed in the Amicus rule book.

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Agenda for Change
The meeting heard an update of progress around the country. The main problem appeared to be with consistency checking and some ludicrous matching outcomes were presented. One Trust has a blanket ban on assimilating any band 8 or 9 posts as they cannot afford it!

GHP should soon have access to national information from the CAJE (Computer Assisted Job Evaluation) system. Apparently, accredited reps can ask for CAJE data for their area.

RepsDirect 395 is very helpful on the preparation required for requesting a review of the matching outcome.

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Pre-registration Graduates
These have been assimilated in the Early Implementer (EI) Trusts. It was noted that the transitional points were only used at the point of assimilation. All pre-regs in post at 1st June 2003 in EIs had been assimilated to the first transitional point. Pre-regs starting in August 2003 would start at the lowest point of band 5 UNLESS there was already a pre-reg in post who was on the transitional point, in which case all new pre-regs would go on the transitional point. This might be the case where a pre-reg had failed their exam and was working on in the Trust whilst awaiting their resit.

As the Workforce Development Confederations were not funding the AfC award in full, it was estimated that Trusts needed to find around 6000 (7000 in London) per pre-reg from their staffing budgets to pay them the proper rate. In the South West of England this equates to a gap in funding of around 500,000. This is likely to create a shortfall of 150 pharmacists over England by next summer. The President is to raise this with Gail Cartmail.

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Pay Review Body submission
This would be discussed at the Terms and Conditions Committee the next day. Group Secretaries were told to ensure that members had access to the PRB teams that visited hospitals and that it might be necessary to remind nurses that pharmacy staff are now part of the same pay review body.

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Knowledge & Skills Framework
Group Secretaries were reminded that KSF outlines were to be subject to consistency checking similar to AfC matching outcomes. After an exercise to determine the levels that two different posts would be expected to score on Communication and Service Improvement, there were discussions on the evidence that would be acceptable. This basically comes down to be whatever you and your manager agree it to be. CPD should actually provide most of the evidence. It was noted that it is the postholders responsibility to collect the evidence, not the managers.

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GHP Website
The day ended with a demonstration of the Amicus and GHP websites. The GHP website is to continue for the foreseeable future, but we need to ensure it is being used. Likewise the GHP Discussion Forum is underused and could be used to host local group discussions. Amicus intend that an electronic newsletter be created to replace "Healthcare Pharmacy" but this is being hampered by a lack of email addresses to which to send it!

Colin Rodden
21 September 2005

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