Secretary For Scotland's Report for Guild Council Meeting 20.9.2001

Association of Scottish Trust Chief Pharmacists Meeting 29.8.2001
As reported at the last Council meeting, the June 8th meeting of ASTCP had been cancelled, making this the first meeting since the Annual General Meeting.

Scottish Medicines Consortium : The meeting opened with question and answer session on the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC). Prof. David Lawson stated that pharmacists would be involved at all three levels of the SMC -

  1. Pharmacists will be among the main players at consortium level. He anticipates that there will be one pharmacist Vice-Chair.
  2. Consultation had indicated that the setting up of a New Drugs Committee would be welcomed more than using existing Drug & Therapeutic Committees (DTCs) to assess new drugs.
  3. There will be a group of people, mainly pharmacists, employed to collate the paperwork submitted by the industry.

He emphasised that although he was guesstimating, based on his own ideas, pharmacy would have the major role.

The end product of the Consortium would be recommendations to the existing DTCs, not instructions. The Consortium would be there to support the work of the DTCs. It was hoped that there would be representatives from all Health Boards but it would not be a free choice by the Health Board. The SMC would be a little prescriptive to ensure there is a balance of expertise and would therefore ask for half a dozen nominations with details of their expertise. There will be a slot for remote Health Boards to ensure their voice is heard and it is anticipated that there will be adequate representation for primary care.

Prof Lawson was asked if it was feasible for the SMC to assess all new drugs or whether criteria could be compiled to limit the assessments. His response was that all new drugs would be assessed but that the effort involved in the assessment would vary. SMC are trying to get the industry to do a lot of the preparatory work. Glasgow DTC assessed the 80 new drugs that there were last year, so the workload should not be that great.

The appeals process and the process by which drugs are reassessed in the light of new information have not been finalised. It is envisioned that SMC will consider drugs at time of marketing and that the Health Technology Board for Scotland (HTBS) will assess them two years down the line.

The reason for the creation of SMC is the Scottish Executives desire to stop postcode prescribing of new drugs. One of the first tasks was to explain to the Health Minister the difference between local initiatives and postcode prescribing. Although the advice of SMC might increase pharmacy budgets locally, SEHD opinion is that the effect on the Health Board budget will be minimal and sorted out by SEHD. SMC will take cost into account, but if a drug is for a previously untreated condition, it is likely to be passed.

The resources for the work will come from the HTBS budget since they were originally intended to carry out the work.

Pharmaceutical Care Model Schemes Development Team : Bill Scott and Alison Strath (Chair, RPSiS) updated the meeting on a significant development in the extension of the Model Schemes initiative. Funding has been obtained for a three year programme to implement and further develop model schemes for frail elderly, palliative care and people with enduring mental illness. A Director (grade F/G) and three part time pharmacists are to be employed. The Director is responsible to Bill Scott and located in offices in York Place. It is expected to be in operation by the end of 2001.

Concerns were raised about the corrigendum to PCS(PH)2001/1 which indicated that, contrary to the advice in that document, pharmacists of grade E and above were to be included in management costs. I informed the meeting of the actions being taken by Ron Pate and Barry Jones to rectify the situation. It was agreed that Michelle Caldwell and I should raise the matter with Bill Scott.

I also requested that the Trust Chief Pharmacists should ask any pharmacists, eligible for Family Tax Credit, who have been disadvantaged in that respect by arrears of pay being paid in this financial year to contact me so that I can put them in touch with the person who is attempting to resolve such issues.

I was asked about the best way that pharmacy technicians could be represented at ASTCP given the lack of a good communication structure and the fact that different organisations are involved. I have contacted Michael Fuller and Barry Jones about this matter but any other suggestions would be welcome.

I have been requested to draw up rules of engagement for ASTCP. It is intended that the document will also apply to all members and organisations attending ASTCP meetings.

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Scottish NHS Committee (SNHSC) Meeting 29.8.2001
Concern was expressed at the cancellation of the attendance of Malcolm Chisholm at the meeting. Two days prior to the meeting he had called off saying he had to write a paper on community care. It was agreed that the committee should write expressing their concern over the way this and previous changes had been made and their disappointment at his inability to attend. It was noted that, prior to the general election, ministers would meet with anyone they could, but post-election they seemed to be trying to be invisible.

It was noted that the leaflet which had been handed out at the NHS conference had been very well received and 300 copies had not proved sufficient.

Apparently, the plan to set up an Executive group of the NHSNAC had been scrapped. It was also announced that the NHS Conference in Blackpool next year would take place on the Friday afternoon before the main conference.

MSF Internal
Merger : technically on hold. It has not been formally registered due to the AEEU giving detailed consideration to the report of the Certification Officer on MSF. Meetings are to take place this week and next. It was pointed out that the Transfer of Engagements document on which the membership had been balloted could not be changed.

Officer coverage : The transition is in progress, with contacts with reps and management being made. Administrative support in the Glasgow office was extremely stretched at the moment. The email circulation system has been set up but due to long term sickness of the staff who have been trained in its use, it has not been implemented.

Devolution within MSF : previous Group structures have been based on Trust organisation. However, most major decision making over the next few years will be at Unified Health Board level and there is currently no MSF structure for making decisions across NHS areas. There is a need to consider having group structures crossing employer structures or having the groups meeting together. Less decisions will be made at trust level and more at Unified Health Board level, so therefore, all senior reps have to balance involvement at Trust and Area Partnership Forums. There needs to be a structure for accountability, support and discussion.

Roger Spiller is taking on board that devolution has occurred and that very separate issues will arise. There was concern that a lot of information distributed by Dave Houliston is not relevant to Scotland, and indeed Scotland is further ahead in a lot of things. A recent meeting between Roger Spiller and the lead NHS officers was held in London and recognised the differences caused by devolution. Roger Spiller is open to things being different and is willing to attend a future SNHSC meeting.

Recruitment : There was concern that members in Scotland may be disadvantaged due to a lot of the national members of individual organisations within MSF being English and unaware of the situation in Scotland. It was noted that the CPHVA has officials for each country. Recruitment - over the last few years, recruitment in Scotland has been second only to London. However, this year recruitment has plateaued across Scotland as a whole, not just the NHS. There was discussion over possible reasons for this. Suggestions included
Apparently there are several issues in South Glasgow Trust which are coming to a head. These would have been better dealt with through partnership but major problems with partnership in South Glasgow mean that they will have to go through procedure. It was thought that if partnership has descended to departmental or directorate level then the members perhaps have a better idea of what is going on.

It was thought that recruitment posters should have a list of professions covered by the union on them. Glasgow office should now have the equipment and software to meet these needs. Any examples of posters produced locally should be sent to Bill Goudie.

Pay and AFC : Meetings taking place this week and next should have agreed the issue of the document but, instead, the technical problem of having only 320 jobs being fully documented and benchmarked is delaying things. The BMA are still refusing to countenance any links between the Doctors and Dentists Pay Review Body and anyone else. There are discussions on how far the other unions push this matter, so AFC is unlikely to be agreed next week. Estimates vary between November and next May as to when it will be issued. It is also difficult to go out to members with a system which is not equal pay claim proof. SPRIG have made two decisions -

  1. Scotland will go ahead on a big bang basis. All trusts will go together and there will be no early implementers. Scotland will benefit from mistakes made in England.
  2. Scotland is aiming to go live on 1/10/03 and there is unlikely to be anything before then.

There will also be negotiations on the backdating of results from the date of implementation to the date of signing. Concern has been expressed that SEHD are getting hundreds of enquiries on interpretation of the Organisational Change Policy and that some of the responses are inaccurate. However, only Mark Butler and Michael Fuller as joint chairs of the Scottish Partnership Forum can give an interpretation on behalf of the SPF, so this is to be investigated. Protection under AFC is currently 12 months. Although SPRIG was set up to decide on the pace of implementation, the staff side view is that there would be extreme difficulty in selling AFC to their membership if protection was to remain at 12 months instead of the current protection for life.

Next years pay awards will go ahead in the traditional way. Staff side are ensuring that SEHD is aware that they consider it would be invidious for the Government to offer differential pay awards next year between PRB and non-PRB staff. The PRBs will report in February and it will be interesting to see if there is a differential between the Doctors and Dentists PRB and the Nursing and PAMs PRB. All of staff side, apart from the BMA who are not taking part, are signed up to having no differential pay awards.

It was also noted that a change in legislation meant that advertising on payslips was to be allowed.

NHSNAC : Information on AFC will need to be tailored to the group of staff the information is aimed. There are currently around 20 volumes of work on AFC which would be far too much for most reps, never mind members.

A motion to the NHSNAC from the SNHSC is to ask for a reiteration of MSF policy on PPP/PFI.

Unified Health Boards : Elections for the Employee/Partnership Director have been completed in most areas with a reasonable spread of organisations holding the seats, although as the Director they are representing all of staffside, not their own organisation.

Partnership Training Courses : There has been a poor uptake up on the partnership courses previously advertised. Unless more reps apply, the courses will be cancelled.

Pharmacy Technician Rep : I raised the question about pharmacy technician representation at ASTCP. It was decided that a pharmacy technician rep should be appointed to the SNHSC and be able to represent MSF members at ASTCP.

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Emergency Duty Allowance negotiations
There has been no movement on this issue. Like a number of others, it is on hold until the medical secretaries dispute is resolved. The national agreement on uprating medical secretaries pay was agreed by Unison for Scotland, but the North Glasgow Branch of Unison does not recognise the agreement and is undertaking industrial action. If the national agreement fails, then it is unlikely that any further national agreements will be forthcoming.

Colin Rodden
14 September2001

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