President's view: Dramatic times for the HCSA

Our success in securing national bargaining rights will bring with it lasting and dramatic change to HCSA as the professional association and union for all hospital doctors.

We have been in existence for approaching 70 years and have been negotiating at a national and local level ever since. However, the absence of national recognition meant that we and the opinions we voiced on behalf of our members could still be sidelined when it came to the crunch.

The term “recognition” appears in a thesaurus beside three distinct headings – credit, detection and identification.

National recognition of HCSA by NHS Employers and the government is indeed a credit to HCSA’s patient, quiet diplomacy and common sense over recent years. Our opinions have been and are valued in the highest circles and we have been listened to and most of all heard. We have been given respect for our constructive, refreshing input into talks and our approach.

It is important here to pause and reflect on all of the people within the HCSA, whether members, council, officers, presidents or staff, who have worked so hard to get the association this far. They deserve recognition too and, most of all, I do not believe that we would be where we are now without the expertise and diplomacy of our CEO and General Secretary Eddie Saville.

When it comes to detection, this is another area where the achievement of national bargaining rights raises fresh challenges.

Following our recognition announcement we saw in many journals and newspapers that our new status has been “detected” – we are on the radar and people are interested in seeking us out, which means our opinions and policies have the potential to reach new audiences.

We need now to ensure that we are always easily identifiable. Not just by our name and our leadership but by our members, policies and approach.

As an Apple fan I have always had to “Think Different” and I think we in the HCSA need to do the same, coming up with solutions, not questions or problems.

But we not only need to think differently but act differently and through this bring a total refresh of local and national medical politics. NHS Employers have indicated they do want us there nationally. Now we need our members to get involved right across the NHS.

We need not just to establish our foothold but to plant it firmly, particularly at a local level within trusts and other employers. A key priority this year will be to take steps to ensure that LNC constitutions are representative of all employee groups and fair.

To that end we are reaching out to members to build new links with those already involved or willing to become involved in this arena.

Recent months have seen a warm welcome extended by other unions and NHS organisations ushering us formally to the table in so many meetings and events.

Almost without exception the response has been one of excitement at the professional skills and competences we can bring into play.

We must now demonstrate our professionalism and our different, constructive approach as we seek to take this new era of partnership at the top table forward.

We will be calling on you, our members to take new roles as we progress. I hope you are ready to take on that work.

Keep in close contact with your local hospital rep, your area national officer and headquarters.

We know that many of the hundreds of new members, trainee, junior and senior, are keen to get involved. Trust me, we will
get you involved.

Professor Ross Welch is President of HCSA.