Secretary For Scotland's Report for Guild Council Meeting 11.5.2006

Review of NHS Production in Scotland
Nothing further has been heard as to progress on this matter.

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In the Press
10.3.06 Alex Neil MSP, (Central Scotland, SNP) lodged a motion relating to prescription exemptions: Prescription Charge Exemption for Cystic Fibrosis Sufferers.

13.03.06 - The Scottish Executive has launched a consultation examining how Scotland should prepare for the looming "demographic timebomb".

23.3.06 - A 44% rise in prescribing anti-depressants in the Borders over the past five years has prompted a call to look at alternative treatments.

26.3.06 - Scotland has banned smoking in enclosed public spaces.

29.3.06 - The Scottish Executive Health Department announced a 27 million funding package aimed at bringing health services closer to patients and encouraging joint working between public agencies.

3.4.06 - The Scottish Executive announced a new partnership involving Scotland's universities, NHS Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

5.4.06 - Bill Butler MSP (Lab. Glasgow Anniesland) has introduced a member's bill to elect Health Board members and make boards genuinely engage with the public and put a stop to bogus, pre-determined consultations.

7.4.06 - Proposed health service reforms were a discussion point of the SNP's spring conference in Dundee.

23.4.06 - Chief medical officer Dr Harry Burns wants NHS managers to "prioritise" costly treatments and channel the savings into preventive medicine, typically involving flooding poor areas with health workers.

28.04.06 - The Scotsman newspaper launched a campaign to end prescription charges for the chronically ill.

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Scottish Health Service Senior Reps Committee 21.4.06
A number of issues were discussed at this meeting, most of which were updated at the meeting of the Scottish Health Sector Committee (SHSC). The membership of the group has expanded to include some other senior reps not on the SHSC. It was noted that the pay agreement is applicable only to those staff who have been assimilated on to AfC pay scales. About 95% of staff in Scotland are awaiting assimilation and will therefore not receive the pay increase until that time. A proposal to pay 2.5% on account to staff is being discussed, but although payroll have agreed it is possible, they say it will delay assimilation by two months.

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Scottish Health Sector Committee 5.5.06
At the beginning of the meeting, Hugh Sweeney was re-elected Chair of the Committee.

Pay: The question of a 2.5% pay increase on account has been referred by SPRIG to a subcommittee meeting in the afternoon of the 5th May. It was noted that the pay award has not yet officially been agreed, as staff side is delaying agreement until the Pay Negotiating Council has met. No moves can be made in Scotland until the agreement is finalised. However, staff side of SPRIG want to get a declaration of intent from NHS Scotland to pay the 2.5% on account once agreement has been reached. Any problems can then be sorted out after assimilation. The sticking point for the staff side is the management position that any staff on protection would need to repay any monies wrongly paid out. It was the SHSC opinion that most staff feel assimilation is more important than the increase in pay.

Unsocial hours: This has been put back until April 07 and subject to union ballot. Pilots in England and Wales and a dry run in Scotland are likely to take place in the Autumn. No decisions have yet been taken on where. One suggestion is that it is run for different staff groups in different Boards, but no decision will be taken until it has been sorted out at UK level. (see also letter from Paul Martin)

Assimilation: Some comparisons are being carried out on assimilation bands for staff in different Health Boards as a consistency check. It is reckoned that many groups of staff have had most of their jobs matched, but have not been forwarded for consistency checking as the job family is not quite complete. At a recent meeting there was a suggestion of assimilation by grade to meet the current targets, but this was discounted. A report on the use of transitional points is due out next week.

Pensions Review: Although the argument for keeping the retirement age the same for staff has been won, the issue of keeping new starts in the final salary scheme is still being debated. Management want the Career Averaged scheme instead. Employers in England have fixed an arbitrary 14% for pensions cost and will not exceed this. The problem for existing staff is that if less staff are paying into the final salary scheme, there is less ability for the scheme to pay out. Therefore there is a need to support the claim for new starts going in to the final salary scheme. Two options which can be discussed if the 14% limit is dropped are those of sharing costs, by increasing contributions, and tiered contributions where contributions depend on AfC bandings. The next meeting of the Group is on May 17th.

Scottish Partnership Forum: The SPF has not met since the last SHSC meeting.

Scottish Workforce and Staff Governance Committee: SWAG has met to consider the future of the PIN Board, revision of the Staff Governance Standard and the results of the staff survey. Information from the survey should be out in the next couple of weeks.

Recruitment: It was noted that Scotland was the highest recruiting region of Amicus in January and February this year and that in March there were 82312 NHS members in the UK.

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Scottish NHS Sector Conference
Changes in the numbers and composition of the Scottish Health Sector Committee meant that I narrowly missed being elected to the Committee at the NHS Sector conference in March. However, I was elected as one of the substitute delegates to the National Conference and will therefore be able to attend the Committee meetings. Unless there are a number of call-offs, though, I will not be attending the National Conference in June.

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NES Pharmacy KSF Advice short life working group
On behalf of GHP, I commented upon the draft KSF guidance for Pharmacists produced by NHS Education Scotland. This was duly published at the end of March. Since publication, concerns have arisen that the sample job descriptions and associated outlines do not match the guidance. Some areas have chosen to use the guidance and not the sample outlines, as the outlines were produced before the guidance had been finalised.

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Association of Scottish Chief Pharmacists
I have attended one meeting of the Acute Group since the last Council meeting.

I attended the Association of Scottish Chief Pharmacists Conference in February. There was discussion on the role of the Scottish Pharmacy Network and it was subsequently decided that it should act more as a communication network for different clinical groups than as a strategic body.

Colin Rodden
4 May 2006

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