President's view: All hands to the pumps

New HCSA President Professor Ross Welch sees a rocky road ahead for hospital doctors

As we await junior doctors’ final verdict on a deal following months of turmoil, it seems that not a day goes by without headlines decrying the financial woes affecting Trusts and their counterparts across the UK.

Certainly the recent Commons Public Accounts Committee report into staffing and planning made for disturbing reading, casting serious doubt on the viability and safety of current proposals for “seven-day” NHS services.

I would very much encourage all members to read the document, Managing the supply of NHS clinical staff in England, which makes both interesting reading and raises many issues.

Taken alongside the multibillion-pound deficits recorded against NHS Trusts in England, it is clear that this story will not be going away.

At the same time the Consultant contract negotiations continue, although the small issue of a referendum on EU membership seems to have distracted the government side.

The inevitable break over the summer means that completion of these works will not likely come to public fruition before late summer, but rest assured your opinions are being heard in our frequent meetings with the government and employers and we trust our influence will be felt.

We are determined as an organisation to engage with members and build on the reputation we are gaining as the “sensible voice of hospital doctors” among those we meet and negotiate with. Yet sometimes at local level HCSA is only heard about when members need support. We need to change that – and you are part of the answer.

Our policy committee has begun the process of reviewing and honing our stance on a whole host of issues. To augment this we need input from you the members. By engaging with us we can get a better view of the issues that we need to revise policy on and that we need to raise on the national stage.

Our expanding team of hospital representatives is already assisting us in engaging more directly with members about policy and direction.

However, if you are not sure whether your hospital has a “rep,” then check with your local National Officer or contact HCSA head office. If it hasn’t, will you take up the role, or alternatively add your expertise to our decision-making structures?

The coming months are set to be a crucial period for the entire medical profession – it will be all hands to the pumps. When it comes to the challenges ahead, together we are stronger.

Junior doctors dispute
News of a negotiated settlement to the junior doctors dispute provided a boost after some very difficult months.

Imposition was never going to be a pleasant way forward for NHS Trusts who would have been on the front line in the process, or for the consultants and specialists of the future. It risked irreparable damage to a medical generation.

We await trainees’ collective view on the deal, but I hope that ultimately agreement on an implementation timetable can be mutually reached.

Thank you, John
One of my first acts as I started my three-year term was to thank John Schofield as outgoing President. John has achieved so much for our association.

Among other sweeping changes was the alteration of our constitution to open the doors to all trainees destined for a hospital career.

This creates an opportunity to not only grow but to really engage with the consultants and specialists of the future. In reality it is them that we are working for as we seek to enable change.

Warm welcome
I know that I am joining a very accomplished and expert team of HCSA staff. That includes our core full-time team of Chief Executive Eddie Saville, Head of Industrial Relations Joe Chattin and Corporate Affairs Manager Sharon George.

I have known Eddie since his appointment and have grown to appreciate his experience, skills and friendship in that time.

Joe has been on my radar since I started as a consultant in the mid-1990s, and in many ways he is the spine that has held and continues to hold our member support service together. Many, many members will have come across Joe in difficult moments in their career and benefited from his negotiating ability and quiet authority.

And last but not least Sharon, who is not only the living memory of the association but all things fall to her hands.

I look forward very much to working more closely with the whole HCSA team over the next three years, and thank them for their warm welcome and support to date.