Across thousands of miles and dozens of events hundreds of hospital consultants have gathered to hear from association officials and voice their views on issues affecting the profession.
Issues raised have included the impact of planned contract changes on pensions and how they will affect long-term pay, progression and retention.
“There have been some challenging questions,” says National Officer Ro Marsh. “A frequently recurring theme has been around morale and goodwill.
“Many have said that these contract changes, and the negative comments from government and the media, are the last straws for them.”
Fellow National Officer Richard Wilde says: “Certainly, there has been great concern felt by senior doctors that the next generation of consultant, already in severe debt from university and medical school, may have a long-term career on a less favourable contract than presently in place.”
But there was also a sense of a profession determined to work together and maintain a solid unity, he detects.
“There is a real endeavour to tackle these issues, both on a general and personal basis.
“The meetings have also been an opportunity for us to listen. Every meeting has had a request for HCSA to advocate a particular point on their behalf to NHS Employers or to ministers. It is heartening to hear a doctor say: ‘You need to feed this up into your representations…’
“The questions asked afterwards have always gone on for an hour or so, as members and non-members respond to the government proposals. It has been encouraging to see such a wholesome response.”
Richard adds that the help of HCSA members in setting up the events has been “overwhelming.”
They have worked hard locally to ensure some large turnouts, booking lecture theatres and rooms, circulating meeting details, and speaking to the right people to make sure that events could go ahead.
“Without them, my work would not have been so successful,” he says. “I don’t think the members realised how valuable and important it was, and how it changed my briefing agenda from just one or two hospitals to 16.”
All HCSA’s National Officers are planning more meetings later in the year – some return visits and others that will take them into hospitals for the first time.
The advice to members wanting their hospital on an officer’s “round” is simply to get in touch.
“We are here to give briefings, to advocate your concerns and to inform members and non-members alike about these proposed changes,” says Richard.
“We’re always ready to put more meetings in the diary, and no matter how busy the summer gets, there is always time to visit your hospital.”
Ro agrees. “If it is my patch, get in touch, and I will set it up. That is true of all of us.”
To arrange a visit to your Trust or to get more involved in HCSA, contact the National Officer for your region. If you’re not sure who it is, contact our national office