Secretary For Scotland's Report for Guild Council Meeting 25.9.2003

My apologies for the size of this document, but as you will see from the report, activity over the summer months has actually increased rather than reduced.

ASTCP Meeting 13.6.03
I informed the meeting that the Golden Jubilee Hospital, West Lothian Trust, the CSA and Highland Primary Care Trust had been proposed as virtual early implementers sites within Scotland with a closing date for responses back to the Scottish Executive by 16 June 2003. There was also a school of thought that Highland Acute would take part, but that was not yet confirmed. All other Health Boards had been advised to set up project boards by early summer for the implementation of Agenda for Change.

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Meeting with West Lothian Trust Pharmacists 17.6.03
I met with the Trust Chief Pharmacist and rep from West Lothian Trust to discuss Agenda For Change and their role as a pilot site. The meeting was useful and identified a number of actions for the participants.

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Early Implementers Group Meeting 18.7.03
I attended the meeting of the EI group in London and reported on the meeting in AFC Bulletin 4.

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Meeting with Janis Millar 7.8.03
This was a very useful informal meeting which discussed the meeting held between representatives of ASTCP and SEHD HR Director Mark Butler. ASTCP had been informed that the job evaluation scheme of AfC was not open to amendment. It had been agreed at that meeting, and subsequently by Sue Hastings, that Scotland should produce some pharmacist profiles for evaluation. It was made clear at this meeting that any pharmacist/technician/ATO nominations must be made in conjunction with GHP/Amicus.

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Meeting with Bill Scott 7.8.03
There was very useful discussion of Agenda For Change, the pharmacists career structure, the Healthcare Scientists Forum, progress with implementation of The Right Medicine and unified Trusts and pharmacy within the merged bodies.

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ASTCP Meeting 15.8.03
There was considerable discussion of Agenda for Change. This started with a report of the meeting held with Mark Butler, NHS Scotland HR Director. ASTCP had argued that the weightings applied to the factors were such that they disadvantaged pharmacy. Pharmacists were employed to use their knowledge and skills to solve problems. However, the job evaluation scheme rated problem solving equivalent to manual handling. It had been pointed out that pharmacy was predominantly a contracted service in the same way as doctors and dentists, both of whom were excluded from AfC. There was also concern that the ceiling of band 8 would be a problem when attempting to recruit staff. It was important that pharmacy was seen as an important profession within the managed service. There was considerable competition between community pharmacy and the managed service for pharmacists and the ability to recruit could be seriously impaired if pharmacy was seen as unimportant. There was also a risk that the number of entrants to the Schools of Pharmacy would fall and the Schools might reduce their entry requirements to keep numbers up. A fall in standards was to no-one's benefit. There was concern that the offer to input questionnaires into the evaluation process meant that SEHD had not understood the arguments being put forward and had offered this instead as a solution to an incorrect perception that the problem was that pharmacists in Scotland worked differently from those in England. The work was very similar even if the direction might be quite different.

There was apparently some confusion around the country as senior reps had been emailed by Amicus to ask for evaluation volunteers. It was agreed that ASTCP members would email me with details of posts suitable for evaluation according to the list obtained from Guys & St Thomas' Trust (GSTT). There would then be joint GHP and ASTCP discussion on which posts should go forward. However, we were in agreement that no evaluations would be done until proper training had been given to the postholders involved.

There was a question over what training could be provided. I explained the different situations north and south of the border, including the fact that we had no Best Practice Facilitators. I said that I thought I might have to run some of the training, but as I had not myself been trained, this was far from ideal and this was agreed by the meeting. ASTCP is to write to Janis Millar to explain that they want to ensure that staff are trained to the same level as in England before completing questionnaires.

There was a question over whether RPSGB had made input into the process yet, and agreed that ASTCP should write to Ann Lewis. RPSiS would write separately on the same subject.

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Scottish NHS Committee Meeting 3.9.03
The meeting was attended by Gail Cartmail, Head of Health. It was noted that the SNHSC Secretary, Sharon Duncan, had been seconded to the Partnership Support Unit. The meeting agreed that Michael Fuller should take over as Secretary.

Gail Cartmail opened the meeting by stating that she had asked M Fuller to co-ordinate work in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to ensure that the Amicus strategy on Agenda For Change is not anglocentric. She attends the Joint Secretariat Group and noted that there is a tendency there that it is anglocentric and there are regular battles to ensure it is not. The PIN Guidelines have been circulated as examples of good practice across the UK. Her deputy on the JSG is Barrie Brown and one or other will always attend the meetings.

She said that she had travelled extensively in the UK since her appointment in June and explained that a number of campaign briefings are planned, on flexible employment, raising the ceilings on careers and also on AfC. She also realised the frustration with the lack of profiles and the rumours which are circulating. Amicus has more profiles and more profile families than any other organisation. Within families such as pharmacy, SLT and psychology there are a lot of complex issues. In order that published profiles have any credibility, there is a complicated process of consultation e.g. with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. Amicus wants to be able to publish profiles on pharmacists that provide a good opportunity for matching at local level. Local matching needs to be held back until national profiles can be published. The role of pharmacy is poorly understood. In order to reduce the gap between Amicus and the JEWP on pharmacy, Sue Hastings has been working to get a better understanding of pharmacy at every level. This may delay things somewhat, but it will save local challenges to matchings.

There is a feeling in some quarters that the savings in on-call are paying for the rest of AfC and, rather than wait until the period of protection expires, Amicus is keen to tackle the problem now. Sarah Carpenter is chairing a working group to try and reconcile on-call, working time directive, workload and family friendly etc.

The Knowledge and Skills Framework is not in the forefront at the moment, but Amicus are trying to do more to explain the contents and the monitoring system. G Cartmail may send out a presentation with RepsDirect.

Mixed reports are coming from the EI trusts. There is a rumour from one that the management see it as unaffordable. The issue there is that there are a lot of trust contracts with less favourable conditions, so the cost is significantly greater than in those trusts changing from Whitley T&C.

The National Advisory Committee (NAC) receives reports from all of the Occupational Advisory Committees (OACs). Amicus is trying to be responsive in the structuring of the Health Sector by setting up OACs where necessary. A new Professions Complementary to Dentistry has now been set up for example. The Estates Officers AC has been revived with colleagues in the AEEU. An OAC is also to be set up for IT members. It was noted that John Reid is to attend the next NAC meeting and that regular informal meetings with the Secretary of State have been set up.

The previous day, a meeting in London had agreed the new NHS Staff Council. Amicus has three seats on the Council which has 37-40 seats overall. There will be various subgroups of the Council and the constitution allows co-option to facilitate expertise to be brought in when necessary.

Bryan Freake and Barrie Brown are attending all meetings on pensions.

From January, the new union structures need to be in place and there will be a full report at the NAC meeting. An evolutionary approach is planned to ensure that members are comfortable with the changes. Patrick Canavan is leading the work on this.

One delegate asked what was the Amicus position at the meeting the previous day between the General Secretary and the Prime Minister to discuss the public sector. The overall position was that Amicus welcomes the establishment of a forum to have regular access to the decision making process. This does not preclude Amicus using it's current links to have meetings outwith the forum and it is probably more useful to some of the other unions which do not have such a good relationship as Amicus does.

There is to be a Foundation Hospital briefing late in September.

G Cartmail had instructed that RepsDirect was to be limited to single pages. There may be attachments, but these should be précised in the text. The idea is to communicate more effectively.

Another delegate asked if Foundation Hospitals do not necessarily have to implement AfC and if in 5 years all English hospitals will be Foundation Hospitals then, effectively, AfC is for Scotland only and we could probably have done a better job ourselves. G Cartmail is pushing for Foundation Hospitals, if they do materialise, to be locked in to AfC. There is also the problem that if Foundation Hospitals go live from April 2004 then AfC must apply from 2004. There is concern that it would muddy the waters, with Foundation Hospitals being confused with Early Implementers. Even if they are established in April 2004 there is no reason why they should do any more preparation than any other employer for implementation.

I asked about the information on "understandings" with the DoH over AfC that had been mentioned as "coming out soon" in July, but which had never appeared. G Cartmail was to meet the DoH on Friday and a full report would be issued soon. There were some clarifications required before it could be published.

The introduction of Agenda For Change Reps seems to be causing a loss of coherence within the reps structures. It is important that they are not automatically accredited without the knowledge of the local Group Committee. Their introduction was apparently in response to good Group Committee structures not existing in all of the EI sites. However, they must work with Group Committees where they exist. About 30 people have responded to the leaflet in Scotland and all senior reps have been sent lists of AfC reps. Similarly, the AfC reps have been given a list of senior reps and told to make contact. It was agreed that M Fuller should write to all the AfC reps to fully explain the situation. It was noted that accreditation is important to ensure time off and resources under the facilities agreement.

SLTs and pharmacy staff are not enthusiastic about AfC and G Cartmail was asked about protections and salaries being frozen for many years without any increase in pay. She replied that at the NAC, the first session was opened by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) in Wales. If they were asked whether lifelong protection was likely to lead to a complaint by the EOC, the answer would be yes. If members were asking about SLT, pharmacy and technical roles, this was where most work was being done to match the profiles to ensure that protection would not be required. SEHD was sending out different messages on protection from the Modernisation Board in England. The problem lies in finding someone disadvantaged by the protection, which is likely why EOC have not challenged SEHD already. There are now three different protection agreements - Organisational Change / AfC / AfC extended.

The most recent case on protection had involved ACAS. There were hundreds of Industrial Tribunal applications from new starts who did not benefit from the lifetime protection given to mostly male senior ACAS members under a civil service agreement. It was agreed to be wrong on the basis that men had been protected over women and came down to an equality argument.

Any litigation by members to challenge the protection needs to wait until it is in place and so Amicus must wait and see how things develop. The question is whether Scotland can supersede the UK on equal opportunities legislation. Rumour and speculation have been very disturbing, as we still don’t know to what extent protection is an issue. The facts need to be established.

M Fuller reported that HDL(2003)36, “Preparation For Implementation Of Agenda For Change” had been issued on 28th July. Each NHS Board should be appointing project directors and project boards and should have project plans in preparation. It is vital that members have enough information to make a proper decision in the second ballot. Ideally, that information should be available by June. Two Reps day schools were to be run in Glasgow in October.

Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and dental technicians were all going to be evaluated in Scotland to complement the work in England.

Public Health Practitioners will also have to be evaluated. The current workload in the profiling sub group is such that they are concentrating on those required for the EIs. Since PHPs do not exist in England, they will never, therefore, be a priority.

An MTO structure is to be set up within Scotland to allow Rod Bannerman (MTO OAC rep) to consult members on a wider basis than is currently possible.

SPRIG is to consider whether protection can be extended to the length of the working week to protect those currently working less than 37.5 hours.

There was discussion on how best to relate to the Scottish Parliament. Discussions with Mike Watson MSP had shown that the loss of Lee Whitehill from the Glasgow office meant that MSPs did not have a proper contact point for the union.

M Fuller had written to the Health Minister to try to get Staff Governance incorporated into the NHS Reform Bill. The SPF had debated the issue and the Staff Governance Group has considered it and agreed to put forward an amendment to the legislation. Information received subsequent to the meeting indicates there may be some success with this. Even if successful, though, it would not be law before next June. It was noted that the health Minister had stated his intention to attend as many meetings of both the SPF and HRF as possible. Staff side of the SPF had held a recent meeting to try and identify the new role of the SPF and regular staffside pre-meetings are to be reintroduced.

The Committee were asked to give some consideration to the constitution of the group, as it will need to be amended in view of the new rulebook which will be introduced in January.

A recent RepsDirect had stated that a review is being carried out on pensions for a white paper and is due to report in 2006. There is a suggestion that public sector workers are privileged compared with the private sector. It was noted that this was probably true, but it was also one reason that staff worked in the public sector and were prepared to put up with many of the other terms and conditions which were not as advantageous as the private sector. The RepsDirect did not, however, point out that the NHS Confederation had been asked by the DoH to review the NHS pension scheme. The SPPA are represented on the group undertaking the work, but SEHD are not. Letters have been written to Mark Butler to say that this situation is scandalous and representation is required. This will be a major campaigning target, but no campaign objectives are being set until things are a bit clearer. It was also noted that the DoH had been reduced in size by one-third and that it had been mooted that the NHS Confederation take on a negotiating body role. M Fuller agreed to try to reschedule the postponed meeting with the SPPA.

Scotland is now filling the last gap in its HR Strategy by preparing a workforce strategy. The National Workforce Group includes M Fuller and James Kennedy (RCN and SPF Chair) and it is hoped the strategy will be launched at the Partnership Conference in January 2004.

M Fuller reported that Regional Officers are to restart their meetings with staff groups on AfC. The office is still trying to get email addresses for all reps to streamline information distribution as much as possible. If reps do not currently have access to email, their employer should make it available on request. There is an SEHD commitment that this should be the case.

The Whitehall College NHS Reps course is to be reviewed by the College and G Cartmail. Any views on the content of the course should be sent to M Fuller. Many potential reps are dissuaded by the fear of grievance and disciplinary cases. However, it should be emphasised that they would not be left on their own. Support from other reps would be available.

The Scottish Healthcare Scientists Forum has held its first meeting to decide processes and how to develop. Links have been established with the UK forum. Material on elections to the National Executive Council (NEC) is on its way and will be distributed to all workplace reps. Regional nominations are branch based. The three NHS industrial reps are nominated by workplace reps and the women's seats can be nominated by either branch or workplace reps.

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Agenda For Change Study Day 4.9.03
This meeting was set up over the summer with the assistance of Michael Fuller and the Glasgow Regional Office. It was held in the office and addressed by Dave Miller, Michael Fuller and myself. There were 36 Pharmacist, technician and ATO reps present at the meeting which gave a basic grounding in Agenda For Change, differences in the NHS Scotland implementation, and the problems experienced in the Early Implementers. There was also a workshop session where the reps tried to profile two jobs. The reporting back and “Where now?” sessions were good with some lively discussion.

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ASTCP Agenda For Change Subgroup Meeting 5.9.03
There was some discussion on how to proceed with evaluations for Agenda For Change. It was noted that I had received nominations from only 3 Trust Chief Pharmacists with another four individual volunteers contacting me. It was agreed that the request would be resent to all the TCPs and that a meeting of the subgroup on the 18th September would identify the most appropriate posts for evaluation.

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ASTCP Agenda For Change Subgroup Meeting 18.9.03
This meeting was postponed until 23rd September. A report of the meeting can be given at Council.

Colin Rodden
22 September 2003

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