RepsDirect No 165 - 20 January 2003

Head of Health, Roger Spiller General Secretary, Roger Lyons

Agenda For Change

Members are understandably asking questions following the recent announcement by the Department of Health on agreement reached with Staff Side organisations on proposals for a new pay system resulting from the Agenda for Change talks.

Amicus MSF thought that this announcement was premature, as it would lead members to ask questions about where they fit on the new pay scales which we are presently unable to answer as there is still a great deal of work to be done.

The main means by which your pay will be determined is by a Job Evaluation scheme that was established to determine equal pay for work of equal value in the NHS. A number of Amicus MSF jobs have been evaluated and from this a broad outline of these jobs have been drawn up known as a job profile. This is the means by which local Trusts will seek to place you on the new grading structure.

We have led on raising concerns about the profiling process. These concerns have now been identified by Amicus MSF and raised at JEWP. Other organisations are now echoing our arguments. We have commented on these profiles many of which have yet to be taken on board. Rest assured we would not accept these profiles unless this happens.

Further we do not fully understand how these profiles fit together to reflect a recognised career structure in many of the professional groups that we represent. Our initial analysis indicates that some levels of practice have yet to be evaluated and some levels of specialist practice appear to be absent. We are seeking to remedy this situation.

At the same time we are undertaking some intensive work focusing on the following groups: healthcare science, pharmacy, speech and language therapy, the family of psychology and chaplaincy. We have reached an understanding with the DoH on the validity of the profiles produced to date and their place in a recognised career structure for that profession whilst at the same time identifying jobs that still need to be evaluated. This approach in medical physics has resulted in an excellent outcome for these occupations. We expect them to be available before our National Advisory Committee meets to consider AfC.

One area of interest is the proposal in discussion over movement of some professions from Band 5 on which they have benchmarked to Band 6 after a certain period of time as they follow ‘different career pathways’. Key to achieving such a transition without need for a Band 6 post to be created is that they ‘demand a level of autonomous decision making in the overall delivery of care’ and they work in circumstances in which any supervision which may operate ‘does not normally impinge on clinical practice’.

We need to clearly identify where this principle applies to our groups. This is an additional means by which any gaps we have identified could be addressed as in effect we are showing that the ‘job demands’ increases after a very short period of time.

In addition, colleagues from groups that have been involved in equal value claims prior to Agenda for Change (e.g. Speech and Language Therapists) have queried how the Job Evaluation scheme relates to case law or the terms of equal value settlements. It obviously is a difficult question to answer comprehensively and to the satisfaction of the members concerned. Following the recent meeting of Job Evaluation Working Party it has now been agreed that a paper will be produced by Sue Hastings, one of the independent advisors who also worked on the SALT case, on this subject.

Finally, we are building up our data on where there are serious recruitment and retention problems in order that we can make our case for R&R premiums. We already have a bank of information available following our claims through Whitley last year. The DoH figures are inaccurate because of the criteria (an advertised vacancy unfilled for 3 months) used in determining the vacancy rate. But even these figures reveal significant problems in some areas.

We cannot stress enough there is still plenty to play for and a number of questions in relation to salaries for Amicus MSF members remain unanswered. This will be partly addressed by the work that we are doing now in order that we can have informed consultation with members. However, we can also shape the process throughout Early Implementation and beyond through the use of local evaluations, the Band 5/6 facility, creation of new roles or the KSF or recruitment and retention premiums.

Nationally we are looking at agreeing a template for career development for Healthcare Scientists to supplement AfC. The DoH are keen to progress this in spite of stalling tactics by those who want to preserve the status quo.

Many of the difficulties observed with the earlier documents have been addressed, some to our full satisfaction and others partially so. We are still in negotiation with the DoH and will be over profiles for some weeks to come. Premature campaigns against Agenda for Change are very unhelpful as they divert our attention away from the tasks in hand, saps members morale and may end up shutting the doors on areas of negotiation with the DoH. Trust and confidence colleagues please.

Terms and conditions are clearer. It looks as if the full terms and conditions book will be available within the next few days along with profiles agreed up to the date of publication. We shall issue a summary and by email full copies to all reps who request from Colin Adkins on He is also willing to address your queries.

We would ask you to wait for us to complete our work on the salary structure and the whole package before coming to a premature judgement on the proposals.

Amicus MSF’s Health Sector National Advisory Committee will be meeting in February to discuss its own attitude towards Agenda for Change. This will be preceded by a meeting of Occupational Advisory Committee reps to learn of the final outcome on Profiles and grading followed by a number of Advisory Committee meetings. The NAC decision will go as a recommendation to members. There will be then be a series of members meetings followed by workplace ballots in which all members will be invited to participate.

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