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Chief executive's notes: Contract talks, SPA time and the HCSA at work

HCSA General Secretary Eddie Saville casts his eye over some of the latest issues

Contract negotiations
The news that a deal has been agreed between the BMA and NHS Employers on a new Junior Doctors’ contract is welcome indeed.

On the face of it it appears that this was a properly negotiated agreement – exactly what we at the HCSA had been campaigning for.

The final decision on what happens next is in the court of junior doctors themselves and we will await the outcome with great interest.

Negotiations on the consultants’ contract have been ongoing during this time and in due course we expect a final proposal will be published.

We will fully consult with all members on any final proposals to ensure we give voice to your views and comments. We keep a close eye on the progress of negotiations and will continue to do so.

We have also been building and increasing our local hospital representatives network over the past few months and are now better placed to communicate with members on the ground.

AGM 2016
The HCSA leadership changed hands at our recent Annual General Meeting as our previous president Professor John Schofield handed the chain of office to Professor Ross Welch.

I want to pay tribute to Professor Schofield for his stewardship of the HCSA over the past three years in some of the most challenging times I can recall for our members. As we look ahead these challenges will continue to be ever-present.

With Professor Welch at the helm I am confident that we will position the HCSA in such a way as to not only meet those challenges, but see the HCSA grow and deliver greater influence and presence.

Wales TUC
I was delighted last month to see the HCSA send its first full delegate to the Wales TUC conference in Llandudno. Our delegate Richard Wilde made a valuable contribution to the health debate on the subjects of stress in the NHS and food poverty.

One of the HCSA’s strengths is our affiliations with all of the UK Trades Union Congress organisations, which gives us far greater influence politically and the opportunity to draw on great resources.

SPA squeeze
We continually hear from members about an ongoing squeeze on SPA time. This time is needed to acquire the skills, knowledge, and latest cutting-edge techniques to support patient care.

We realise the pressures being placed on hospitals to treat more patients, meet targets, reduce waiting times and cut costs, but this must not be at the expense of maintaining appropriate levels of time for consultants to support their professional activities.

PAC report
The recent report from the Public Accounts Committee into NHS staffing shone a bright light on a problem we have highlighted for years – there are just not enough staff in the NHS.

In its summary, the committee finds that “the extent of staffing gaps in the NHS indicates that the supply of staff is not meeting demand.” It goes on to say that “in 2014, there was an overall shortfall of around 5.9% between the number of clinical staff that healthcare providers said they needed and the number of staff in post, equating to a gap of around 50,000 staff.”

We urge the government to take this report on board and ensure that sufficient funding is available to plug staffing gaps and allow the NHS to deliver the highest standards of patient care.