P R E S S     R E L E A S E

7th January 2004

For immediate release

Agenda For Change

The Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP) can announce that they have reached an interim agreement with the national Job Evaluation Working Party (JEWP) that will allow the publication of national profiles for five hospital pharmacist jobs. These are on both the GHP website and DoH Agenda for Change (AfC) website. This is an important step as early implementer (EI) sites can now use these locally for the "job matching" stage of the job evaluation process. The GHP has a few remaining concerns, primarily regarding the levels at which some factors have been evaluated e.g. factor 16 - environment. These could not be addressed through national negotiation, however, we have been assured that these issues can be addressed should they arise during the job evaluation process in the EI sites.

GHP members will notice that the job profiles published all come from a family of jobs within clinical pharmacy. The GHP staff side leads in AfC firmly believe that it should be possible to match the majority of pharmacist jobs with these national profiles. This will include posts in primary care, technical services, medicines information, mental health and a variety of other pharmacist roles. This belief is based on experience gained during the negotiations on these national profiles. It is our opinion that a number of factors within the job evaluation process are likely to apply across the entire range of pharmacist jobs, and potentially across the whole pharmacy family.

The GHP is confident that as the process moves forward in EI sites, a full range of agreed job profiles will emerge for use in the national roll out, should the second ballot on AfC recommend acceptance. Any jobs that cannot be matched against the national profiles will need to be individually evaluated, using the Job Analysis Questionnaire, and profiled. The GHP acknowledges that members will need support and advice on how to match their job to a published profile. The GHP is currently formulating this guidance, for issue to members only.

GHP members will note that a pre-registration pharmacist job and a chief pharmacist job are both absent from the published profiles. We believe that a generic pharmacist career pathway, covering the majority of posts, will be apparent once these two profiles are added to those already published. The GHP expect to be able to issue a separate statement on career progression, including the development of a "consultant" role, once it has had time to discuss these with partner organisations and particularly after consultation with the Chief Pharmacist’s Office at the Department of Health.

Ron Pate, Chair GHP Terms and Conditions Committee, said "The GHP is confident it has made good progress on this key issue of profiles and a potential career path. However, a number of significant issues remain unresolved. We need to test the profiles in the job matching process in the EI sites - and there is no substitute for rigorous testing. This will identify the degree of "success" we have achieved, and, almost certainly, areas that need further work. We already know further work will be necessary concerning the application of unsocial hours and on call pay, as with many other professional groups the reimbursement is likely to be significantly below other national and local agreements being replaced including the Emergency Duty Commitment Allowance. The guidance we are about to issue to members on job matching may also need refinement in the light of experience. Similarly issues relating to recruitment and retention premia remain unclear."

The GHP remains concerned that many Trusts, now they are aware of the scale of the task facing them, are keen to commence preparation for full AfC roll out. The GHP re-iterates its position that it does NOT support early pursuit of AfC in non EI sites especially given the need for some unions to undertake further ballot of members. The GHP supports job descriptions/specifications being updated since this should be part of an employee’s annual appraisal process. Members may wish to request support in the drafting of their JDs and should consult their GHP representative prior to signing them off. Pharmacists should note that any local preparation in anticipation of AfC roll out must have the full partnership and participation of local GHP/Union representatives. It is important to remember that AfC has only been approved by some trade unions for the 12 EI sites in England and the "shadow" EI sites in other Home Countries. A final ballot on the full roll out is expected in the spring/summer of 2004, or at a time when trade unions have enough information from the EI sites to advise members on acceptance or rejection of the package.

We re-affirm our recent guidance that job descriptions should NOT be drafted using the language of AfC as present in the job evaluation factor plan. This recommendation is based on experience we have gained from full participation in the job evaluation process. Members should outline in their job descriptions (broad statements or detail if more appropriate) everything they are required to do in their job in a language that is meaningful to them. It is for the job evaluation process to "translate" this information into terms that are understood within AfC. It is critical is that members should have, readily available, examples, which should also be sufficiently illustrative, to back up the content of their job description.

The GHP reinforces our earlier statement concerning situations where it is not possible to match a job to a nationally agreed profile. In such cases, individual jobs will need to go through the full job evaluation process.

GHP members should note that all current documentation in the AfC "deal" is technically DRAFT and may be subject to review/change based on experience in the EI sites. As mentioned previously, the second stage of the ballot will enable members to fully consider all elements of AfC and be informed of experience to date. We strongly recommend that GHP members (managers and staff representatives) are trained in job evaluation and are involved in the matching panels, to support robust and appropriate implementation of AfC.

R .G. Pate
GHP Terms and Conditions Committee

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