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CSP’s 2010 ARC Conference - Glasgow - ARC Say ‘no’ to down-banding

Here we continue coverage of the CSP’s Annual Representative Conference held in Glasgow last month.

ARC is an important debating forum for members and a fundamental strand of the Society’s democratic structure. Motions passed at ARC are later debated by CSP Council and may inform the Society’s work, although the motions are not in themselves policy (see previous reports, 17 February and 3 March)

The CSP must campaign to ensure that posts are not down-banded as NHS trusts seek to make financial savings, conference agreed.

Delegates heard that there was concern among the profession that NHS employers were seeking to down-band posts and expecting staff to carry out work that was outside their job description, as the financial squeeze on the public sector begins to bite.

Conference called on the CSP to work with other NHS trade unions to publicise and resist any down-bandings, and to lobby strategic health authorities and the English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish health departments, to persuade employers to stop this practice, which the CSP believes undermines the integrity of the Agenda for Change job evaluation scheme.

Delegates also called on the CSP to support stewards and members in resisting attempts to impose unilateral changes to pay bands and job descriptions.

John Walpole, for Welsh stewards, said: ‘Most physios could give examples of where colleagues have retired or left their department and the post has been down-graded leaving the rest of the staff to soldier on.

‘We keep hearing about how physios can help develop the health service, but not if we are undervalued, underskilled, and demoralised.’

Kim Gainsborough, for the national group of regional stewards, said: ‘This is a stealthy way of disbanding Agenda for Change. There are already suggestions that AfC may be disbanded after the next general election, whoever wins.’

Neil Rymer, for north London stewards, said: ‘We have spent a lot of time fighting for jobs to be paid at the rate and band that they should be. Let’s not back down now.’

Motion 23 was carried on the conference floor (and on iCSP)

Help needed on exercise prescription

Exercise prescription was the ‘bread and butter’ and a core skill of physiotherapists, said Kay Cooper, introducing a Scottish Board motion. However, research revealed that only 20 per cent of physios rated themselves as confident in practising it, she said.

The motion called on the CSP to develop guidance on exercise prescription, including an audit tool for members to evaluate their current knowledge. One speaker, however, asked: ‘If the physio found their current knowledge was inadequate, what then?’, adding: ‘If you apply this guidance to exercise prescription, why aren’t we doing it for other modalities?’JOY OGDEN

Motion 10 was remitted to Council (but passed on iCSP)

Start of choice exercise over pensions

Physios will receive letters asking them to decide whether to move their NHS pension into the newer version of the scheme within the next few months, Ian Merga, NHS pensions choice communications and stakeholder manager, told a conference fringe meeting.

CSP stewards must not offer advice to individual CSP members on the section in which they should hold their pension, but he urged them to make sure that physiotherapists act when they receive the packs.

If NHS staff fail to respond to the letters, their pension will automatically remain in the NHS pension scheme’s older section.

The differences between the two schemes are fairly complex, although the newer version does offer greater flexibility in retirement options, Ian Merga said.

Roll out in England and Wales has started in the South West and packs are being sent to the remaining SHA regions over the next 18 months.

Scott Patterson and Diane Gladstone, from the Scottish Public Pensions Agency, told the meeting that the choice packs were being issued to all members in Scotland.

Call to protect frontline services in NI

Frontline clinical services in Northern Ireland must not bear the brunt of public sector cuts, conference agreed.

The comprehensive spending review in the Province has meant that three per cent efficiency savings have been imposed on health services – around £700 million over three years – and all trusts have had to make significant savings proposals.

Catherine Elliman, representing Northern Ireland stewards and safety reps, said frontline services were already suffering, with vacancy rates of up to 30 per cent in some units. ‘We’re struggling to meet evidence-based guidelines on stroke rehabilitation and rehabilitation after hip fracture, to name but two things,’ she said.

Jane Leicester, representing North West stewards/safety reps, said that cuts were a false economy. ‘If beds are cut then people are sent home too early and have to be re-admitted,’ she said. She warned that what was happening in NI was coming to the rest of the UK.

Conference agreed the CSP should lobby the NI Executive to ensure that frontline services were protected from the CSR’s impact.

Motion 5 was carried on the conference floor (and on iCSP)

Scottish chief pays tribute to physios

Physiotherapists have a key role to play in improving health services across the UK, said Jacqui Lunday, chief health professions officer at the Scottish government.

She said the profile of AHPs, particularly physios, had never been higher, and that they were vital to delivering on priorities such as enablement, self-management and meeting the needs of an ageing population.

The Scottish government’s quality strategy, announced on 8 February, shared the approach of involving everyone in Scotland, including patients and NHS staff, in shaping the NHS, she said. ‘Physiotherapists have a reputation for being innovative and resourceful and we hope they will take this forward,’ she added.

Jacqui Lunday outlined three ways in which physiotherapists were playing a central role in meeting health priorities around musculoskeletal problems, falls and vocational issues.

Scotland was in the process of developing a national MSK programme that would involve self-referral to online resources; it was developing a national falls programme with a coordinator in every health board; and was taking a proactive approach to getting quick access to rehabilitation services for people of working age, to help them get back to, or into work. 

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