Secretary For Scotland's Report for Guild Council Meeting 26.4.2007

Group Meetings
I am unaware of any group meetings across Scotland.

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In the Press
1.2.07 - NHS Budget allocations announced. Full details on

27.02.07 - The Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry claims Scotland has the lowest market share for new drugs in the UK and money is being spent on cheaper generic drugs. Their report claims products less than two years old have only a 1% market share and those less than five years old less than 8%. Scotland has the highest market share for generic drugs at 23% and that prescribing of generic drugs doubled between 1993 and 2004 to 80% of prescriptions.

09.03.07 - A long-term strategy, All Our Futures: Planning for a Scotland with an Ageing Population , was published by the Scottish Executive outlining the opportunities and choice available to people as they get older. The Executive has allocated £27 million of funding to support the strategy.

09.03.07 - Hospitals across Scotland are to take part in a world-leading programme aimed at improving patient safety. Building on the successful Safer Patients Initiative piloted at NHS Tayside, the Scottish Patient Safety Alliance will involve staff at all levels taking simple steps to cut down on unnecessary harm. These steps include identifying existing good practice and agreeing that these are reliably and consistently applied across key areas.

17.03.07 - Plans to update Scotland's cancer strategy have been announced by the Scottish Executive.

20.03.07 - Researchers at Glasgow University are launching a study to see if cannabis can help prevent fatal damage after a heart attack.

21.03.07 - The Manifesto for Scottish Pharmacy was launched at a reception in the Scottish Parliament. The manifesto can be seen on the Scottish RPSGB website

29.03.07 - Experts at Glasgow University revealed that inserting mini heaters into the lungs helps cut asthma attacks. Researchers said that bronchial thermoplasty could offer a new alternative to people with severe asthma who do not respond well to existing treatments. More than 112 patients in four countries took part in the Glasgow-led trial.

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Scottish Health Service Senior Reps Committee 23.2.07
AfC:A meeting is to take place on 28th February about the situation where various Boards will not meet the 31st March deadline for assimilation. The decision may be taken to stop the work of JMG in consistency checking submitted results. If that happens, JEMG will move on to checking the consistency of results across NHS Scotland
Pensions Review:There had been 13 responses in Scotland at the end of the consultation, mostly about the increase in contributions. A lot still has to be agreed and the regulations are not likely to be out before the elections. The ill-health review has not yet started. The intention is that these regulations would be published with the main pension regulations. If the regulations go through this year, implementation could be on either 1st January or 1st April 2008. The SPPA is currently sending out benefits letters to staff. Next year there should be a current benefits letter and one detailing the expected benefits under the new pension system.
Regulation of healthcare workers:This is currently under discussion.
PIN Policies:There is to be a systematic review of all the policies to bring them up to date.
Stracathro Project:There was concern over the orthopaedic services being provided in what is effectively the first private treatment centre in Scotland. Surrounding Health Boards will use the facilities as they have been given credit by the SEHD to fund operations over and above the Boards’ own capacities.

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Departments of Health, Health Act consultation meeting 20.3.07
I attended this meeting in Stirling on the topic of the Responsible Pharmacist. I have circulated the slides to all Council members. The point was made that hospital pharmacy had been poorly represented at the meetings held around the UK and it was suggested that a separate meeting might take place for hospitals.

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Scottish Regional Health Sector Meeting 23.3.07
TGWU Merger:The result was noted.
Recruitment and organisation:An Officers meeting had been arranged for May 4th. Many regions have recruitment plans, but Scotland does not. There was considerable debate about systematic, targeted recruitment versus recruitment based on services to members or issue-based recruitment. Concern was raised about lay member involvement and influence reducing with each merger. There is an increasing workload for a reducing number of reps - AfC reps do not want to be involved in anything else. Compared with 10 years ago, the workload had increased dramatically. Facilities time is not the problem; AfC has demotivated many reps. There was a big problem in recruiting and training reps.
Pay:PRB had announced the award and the government had reneged by staging the award. There is a meeting of the PNC next week and it is thought that they will be offered the same as PRB staff. However, no-one will be paid until the PNC award is agreed. Scottish Health Minister Andy Kerr had decided to pay the PRB award in full, without staging, but actual payment must wait until the UK negotiations are complete. There was some anger at the comments on the Amicus website about the decision of the Minister not to stage the pay award. It was felt they were inappropriate and likely to be resented by Scottish workers.
Scottish Partnership Forum:There was concern over the role of the SPF and its inability to have meetings. A meeting between staffside members and Kevin Woods had produced the official line of it only being one year into the new arrangements. Things were becoming more systematic now that a Head of Staff Governance had been appointed. Some members were more cynical and questioned the commitment to partnership. There was a feeling that the SPF was not getting to grips with the loss of power to some of the other national groups. SPRIG has one more meeting before becoming part of STAC and history. The result of the Scottish Parliament Election will be critical. The Labour coalition is signed up to partnership, but an SNP coalition has said nothing. There was concern that without the drive from the SPF and the centre, local partnership is being chipped away. The next SPF meeting will take place on 18th May and there will be three main issues -
  1. The independent treatment centre at Stracathro. There are still things to be sorted out. The role of the private sector in the NHS will be the subject of the next two meetings and these will also include PFI projects.
  2. Financial overview.
  3. Public Health legislation.
Protein Fractionation Centre Closure:Boards in the East of Scotland have been told to freeze posts to keep them free for staff being redeployed as a result of the closure.
Public Sector Review:Currently on hold because of the election.
SWAG:Discussions have taken place on updating the PIN policies. There are so many requiring review that they are trying to short circuit the process. It has been suggested that a staff side rep and a management rep are seconded to spend 6 months redrafting all PIN policies for comment / consultation. After the redrafting, they will go to a SWAG subcommittee before consultation. There is concern that two people is not enough and that it should be two staffside and two management reps at least.
Each Board has to submit a KSF plan to SWAG by the end of the month.
Unsocial Hours:The documents have been issued and it has been agreed that a Scottish response should be produced. There is some feeling that the implementation date of October 2007 may be delayed again. There is some dubiety over the core hours, compared with the original AfC document. STAC want to submit a joint staff/management response. It was felt Amicus should oppose the proposals as they will only benefit a minority of our members.
STAC letter:This was the culmination of intense discussion and some conflict. It is estimated that 4% of the workforce may have been assimilated and overbanded before the results were returned from JMG. The letter asks Boards to be sympathetic in dealing with clawback of overpayments and states that no back money should be paid to staff until the JMG results have been received. There was some consternation at the revelation that another union had demanded the removal of a sentence which included the phrase “taking into account personal circumstances”!
Back Pay:Concerns were raised about the possibility of back pay delays meaning that when it was paid it might tip members into a higher tax bracket. There was some discussion about the possibility of allocating it across several tax years.
NHS Ayrshire & Arran:It was reported that NHS Ayrshire & Arran had been told to restart the process as they had made a complete mess of it. They rushed through, disregarding process. JMG found a considerable number of mistakes and large numbers of unsafe results, out of line with every other Board. It was recommended that they start the whole process again.
Senior Managers Pay:The National Evaluation Committee is working its way through 1300 jobs. Unfortunately, the wording of the circular implies they cannot get the 2005/6 pay increase until the evaluation complete. Apparently NES managers have opted back in to AfC.
Distant Islands Allowance:Despite the fourth circular being issued, it still isn’t right.
Equal Pay:14,000 claims have been registered. There is no breakdown on the ratio of local government to NHS, but it is thought the majority are from local government.
Payment on Account:This will not end on 31st March. It will continue to be paid until assimilation.
AfC Matching Data:There were some reports of data being deleted or disposed of. If a member of staff is not matched they should be able to get an “unmatched job report”. It is important that staff know what profiles were considered by the panel during the matching. Deletion of the data may be illegal. Decisions might have been made, but they should have been made in partnership.
Pensions Review:It is looking likely that the new scheme will start on 1st April 2008. At the last meeting on 15th March, SPPA suggested it might be 2010 before existing staff have the option to transfer between schemes as they are installing a new IT system. This raises the question of what happens in the transitional period if the choice is later than next year and to people who have retired before then. There is a logistical problem with the two pages detailing the entitlements under the old and new schemes. The calculator has still to be created. Some figures are still awaited. They will probably be available in the summer.

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Work continues to compile the results from Scotland. However, this is hampered by the reluctance of many Directors of Pharmacy to share the outcomes in their Health Board area. Anecdotal evidence suggests that several Health Boards have poor pharmacy results. I have discussed job descriptions with members in Grampian whose results were also very poor and suggested amendments.

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Scottish Health Service Senior Reps Committee 20.4.07
Merger:"Unite - in one union"seems to be the new union title. Discussions are ongoing on the number of regions, posts held at regional level etc. Nothing is actually happening at local level yet. Concern was raised about how the global expansion plans of amicus will impact on local membership.
Pay:NHSEmployers have said they will not authorise the PRB deal until the PNC has reached a conclusion. The current PNC offer is the PRB offer as staged by the Government. The PNC is due to meet today. So there are no circulars or pay scales for the UK and, despite the Health Minister’s decision to pay in full, Scotland cannot issue a circular until this is resolved. Unison are now balloting for industrial action on the 2.5% being a pay cut. The RCN are also looking at the possibility of industrial action. This is a new situation. It is the first time the PRB offer has been less than inflation and is due to the Government saying it cannot afford to match inflation.

All the main partnership committees are due to meet over the next month so there have been no meetings of
SPF, SWAG or STAC to report.

Staff Survey:There was a proposal to remove the middle/neutral ground responses. The problem is that the employers are using the results to say that staff are satisfied and therefore the pay rise could be lower! The implication is that if staff want a higher pay rise, they moan about the employer in the staff survey!
Pensions Review:The timescales have been slightly firmed up but UK discussions on the detail are still ongoing. These are expected to be complete in May/June. As the aim is to get the regulations out in the Autumn, the package needs to be signed off early in the Summer. The review of ill-health and injury benefit is still ongoing. Whatever is decided in England, 1st April 2008 is the earliest Scotland can implement the package. As previously mentioned, the SPPA have said the earliest existing staff will be able to transfer is likely to be 2010 as their new IT system is being introduced in July 2008. Therefore, significant transitional arrangements will be required. The existing system is not able to deal with the work required. No benefits estimates of transferring between the two schemes can be produced as yet. It was suggested that priority for provision of the estimates be given to those staff aged 55 and over. The big problem will be those who retire between 1st April 2008 and August 2010 when SPPA think the system will be ready. SPPA have been told their timescales are not acceptable.
Regulation of Healthcare Support Workers:The evaluation process is being set up. This is being done on a UK basis, but the fees element is very controversial.

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email addresses
As previously intimated, use of both the swdm and scotsec addresses has been discontinued. The amount of spam being received against the addresses has rendered them unusable. The scotsec2 address should be used instead. Could all Council members please ensure their email address books are up to date.

Colin Rodden
23 April 2007

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