RepsDirect No 165 - 23 January 2003



From
Head of Health, Roger Spiller General Secretary, Roger Lyons

1.Agenda For Change

What do we do next?

Why not follow this example from Kim Chenery a rep from East Cambridgeshire and Fenland PCT:

In East Cambridgeshire and Fenland PCT there are 900 members of staff of which only 48% belong to a union. Each person will receive a flyer requesting that they attend a briefing on Agenda for Change.

These sessions will be delivered over a two week period in February by the Amicus MSF LAR and Human Resource Manager together. There will be opportunities for discussion to take place and in some cases there will be two sessions to cover staff shift patterns.

Staff will be encouraged to join a union, which will entitle them to vote on Agenda for Change. It is hoped that this method of delivery will allow mapping to take place to identify members as well as recruit new members/reps into Amicus MSF.

The ballot, for Amicus members will be taking place in March.

Once the Health NAC has decided its view on AfC on Feb 27th, we shall be arranging meetings in each Trust prior to the ballot. This example shows what can be done, especially in PCTs where staff are dispersed. Perhaps the timing could reflect the fact that job profiles, and thus where staff would sit on the pay scales, may not be completed until the end of February.

Pay Review Body status

For many years Amicus-MSF has fought for all health staff to be covered by the Pay Review mechanism. As a result of Agenda for Change it now looks as if this will have been achieved. The details will be available within the next few days with the publication of the final proposed Terms and Conditions Handbook. However one of the consequences of Agenda for Change is that equal value considerations mean the PRB Spine II and non PRB Spine III cannot vary to any significant degree, so that Spine III will have to receive similar improvements. The only difference would be that the PRB could recommend changes to the structures, but the staff Committee dealing with SIII would be capable of agreeing the same. We have succeeded in driving the logic of PRB to effectively cover all staff. Indeed Amicus believes that in the near future the spines will have to be amalgamated. Were it not for the self exclusion by the Doctors and Dentists, that might already have happened.

Early Implementers

The first news is that the date for early implementation has been postponed until

1st June 2003, thus giving time for consultation and decision making prior to implementation. A number of the EI Trusts are already consulting staff and putting processes into place for action on AfC when agreed. Amicus have therefore arranged for a briefing to be given to reps from the EI Trusts on 7th Feb at Moreland Street, 11.00 4.30pm, Amicus nationally will be paying agreed expenses. Regional Officers have been asked to ensure all major departments in which we have members are represented. If you are not aware of the arrangements and feel you should be then please contact your Regional Office.

The briefing will focus on implementation

Job Descriptions and Profiles

Appeal mechanisms

Assimilation

Knowledge and Skills Framework overview

Auditing the results

Details of the whole package will be circulated as soon as published, the full version in electronic form and summary in Reps Direct.

Amicus still has to decide whether to accept AfC but as trusts are moving forward we should be ready to address the issues.

Early Implementers are:

James Paget Healthcare NHS Trust

Guys & St Thomas NHS Trust

City Hospital Sunderland NHS Trust

Papworth Hospital NHS Trust

Aintree Hospital NHS Trust

Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust

SW London & St Georges Mental Health Trust

West Kent NHS & Social Care Trust

Hertfordshire PCT

Central Cheshire PCT

North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust

East Anglian Ambulance Service NHS Trust

2. Health Protection Agency

Following the announcement by the Government of a two phase process of implementation, the plans to create the Health Protection Agency (HPA) have been modified. It is now proposed to establish the HPA as a Special Health Authority (SHA) effective from 1 April 2003. This means that in England the SHA will be responsible for the functions currently performed by:

In Wales the SHA will be responsible for some, but not all, of the functions planned for England and separate discussions are taking place in respect of this. The SHA will be formed by a Ministerial Order and as such does not require primary legislation. Consultation with the Trade Unions on the creation of the SHA has taken place and we are expecting a further announcement n the next few weeks. It is also expected that those staff to be transferred to the HPA under the TUPE arrangements from 1 April 2003 will receive letter from their employer by the end of this month.

The intention is that the MRA will be wound up when its functions transfer to the SHA as from 1 April 2003. The PHLS is an executive non-departmental public body created by primary legislation. This will cease to exist once changes are made to that legislation. It is the intention for primary legislation to be introduced to change the HPA to an executive non-departmental public body. This change is intended to be effective from 1 April 2004 at which point the PHLS will cease to exist and the HPA will also embrace the work of the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) in England and Wales. This would leave the NRPB as a body with responsibilities to the Scottish Executive only.

A Trade Union Liaison Group has been formed of all the Trade Unions and Staff Organisations involved with the transfer of staff to the HPA. This has met on a number of occasions and agreed a Change Management Protocol which is now being amended in the light of the above changes. It will be agreeing a mechanism of vacancy control and other policies and procedures that will apply within the HPA. It has been stated that it is the intention for NHS Terms and Conditions of service to apply and that HPA staff will continue to have access to the NHS Pension Scheme as now.

The TULG were given a paper setting out a risk assessment that had been completed. This has received some publicity in the media but as a result of that document steps have been taken to introduce interim management arrangements to help address these issues. The HPA Steering Group is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that these concerns are addressed and the new team of Interim Directors and other arrangements should help in this. Further details of these steps are set out in the most recent HPA Newsletter which is generally available.

Another development has been in respect of Media production staff currently employed by the PHLS. Although It had been proposed to retain these staff within the organisation for the time being, the TULG have now been advised that this proposal is being reviewed and as soon as anything further is said you will be advised.

So far as the transfer of PHLS Laboratories to NHS Trusts is concerned there was consultation with the Trade Unions regarding the advice which has been issue to NHS Trusts. All the Trade Unions have been unhappy about the method and timing on the proposed transfer as well as being concerned about the continuity of existing services. A meeting was therefore arranged with Hazel Blears MP, Under Secretary of State for Public Health and this was held on 13 January 2003.

Amicus representatives made the point at that meeting that there was a need for the Trade Unions to be much more involved in the discussions over the proposed transfer of Laboratories. The Minister undertook to raise this mater personally with the Deputy Chief Medical Officer who chairs the relevant steering groups. We also asked for direct representation on the relevant steering groups as our earlier request for this to the Deputy CMO had not been responded to. Again the Minister undertook to take this up for us. We raised specifically the issue of whether it would be possible to delay the transfer of PHLS Laboratories until April 2004 when hopefully more substantial arrangements could have been made for a robust alternative to be in place. The Minister indicated that this had been considered but on balance it was her view that the transfer needed to take place this year to avoid any further delay and uncertainty. The Government was determined to raise the profile of public health protection and to ensure that systems were in place to safeguard continuity of services.

There has been a slight delay over the filling of the HPA Chief Executive post but an appointment has been made and is only now awaiting Ministerial approval. An advertisement has been placed for Non-Executive Directors to sit as members of the new Board and these should be in place by April.

It is recognised that this is a worrying time for members whose employer may be changing and Amicus is taking steps to ensure that our members interests are protected.

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