Two months on from the statement on Agenda for Change, made by the Secretary of State in November 2002, some more information has been published by the DoH. There are two new key documents. One is the proposed agreement that will go to full consultation and the other forms the job evaluation manual. Both can be found on the DoH website at: http://www.doh.gov.uk/agendaforchange/index.htm
The job evaluation manual needs to be treated with extreme caution at this stage since a number of pharmacist jobs that have been benchmarked/profiled remain under discussion. Only one pharmacist job profile has been listed, and there are still on-going discussions relating to this!!! The proposed agreement is a much more informative document, confirming some important issues for pharmacists both for now and future career progression.
Whilst a number of concerns remain, e.g. headline salaries on offer within the new Agenda for Change pay spines, there are some important ‘gains’ within this consultation document. Among these is the inclusion of pharmacists (and pharmacy technicians and assistants) within the pay review body. This is something that Pharmaceutical Whitley Council has been arguing for over many years. There is also the confirmation that pharmacists are one of the groups identified for a long term recruitment and retention premium.
The negotiators within the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP), effectively the staff-side of Pharmaceutical Whitley, remain optimistic that there is a ‘good deal’ to be obtained within Agenda for Change. There are comprehensive arrangements within the proposals that protect members’ existing terms but we will not be approaching it in this way. What we will be looking for is ensuring Agenda for Change provides the framework to fully recognize the contribution pharmacists make to the delivery of healthcare while also addressing some of the obvious questions that arise, such as how the Emergency Duty Allowance is progressed within the new system.
The real discussions start now and you will be fully involved! Amicus-MSF, with the Guild, will be looking to ensure all our members are fully informed of what this massive change will mean for them, both now and in the future. Further briefings will be provided through the usual routes such as local Groups, our websites and through the ghp journal.
Subject to the outcome of consultation, which is looking likely to be early spring, the new pay system is now proposed to be introduced in the ‘early implementer’ sites in England on 1st June 2003. These sites will help establish best practice in using the system, delivering and realizing real benefits for staff and patients. The system will then be implemented across the NHS from October 2004. It is still necessary, of course, that we submit a pay claim for 2003/04 to address pay issues in other sites.