This page shows public news of interest to BIOS members AND visitors.
  • 03 July 2012 9:22 AM | Anonymous

    The NHS terms and conditions of service handbook, more commonly known as Agenda for Change sets out the terms and conditions for all employees in the NHS.  It was agreed through partnership between the trade unions and the employers.

    Unite believes that there are many improvements that could be made to Agenda for Change and the way that it is interpreted, however, they will do all they can to defend it.

    Recently the NHS Employers have asked the trade unions to consider making changes to Agenda for Change (shown in the previous news item on the BIOS website). 

    Some of these proposals are detrimental to our members like cuts in annual leave and sickness arrangements, changes to incremental progression, removing unsocial hours payments, down banding and skill mix.

    Unite firmly believes that fairness should run through all terms and conditions of employment, and whilst some bargaining groups of staff are remunerated at higher levels than our members for similar or identical jobs, we believe that these inequalities need to be addressed. The same is true for other terms and conditions too.

    Your local rep will ask for your views in order to take part in an England only survey by 27th July - please familiarise yourself with the proposed changes.

  • 21 June 2012 3:01 PM | Anonymous
    Employers are proposing changes to NHS Terms and Condition of Service (Agenda for Change) - England only. 

    These are the relevant documents we have been given for members to review:
    Sickness absence June 2012.doc - this document outlines in blue what the proposed changes to wording are in respect of sickness absence policy
    Pay progression June 2012.doc - this document shows the parts of the existing policy which could be deleted and are crossed through and new phrases are inserted in blue
    Workforce re-profiling June 2012.doc - this shorter document of 3 pages looks like a new chapter added.

    It may be helpful to view a standalone copy of the feebdack survey as it highlights the proposed changes more clearly for you:
    STAFF SIDE SURVEY June 2012.pdf

    Your BOSTU local rep will ask you and your colleagues for your views on the changes and fill in a survey on your behalf.

    They have until 27th July to fill in the survey on behalf of BOSTU members at your Trust.

    FYI -
    NHS trade unions in the devolved countries (Ireland, Wales and Scotland) provided a very clear view that they do not wish to consult on the proposals at this time.

    And in view of the developments in the South West - these results will be analysed separately. 

    A clear message has been sent to the Management Side of the Staff Council that
    NHS trade unions will make all efforts to encourage the Consortium to focus on the national discussions on the future of Agenda for Change.  However, if – by the end of the consultation period - the South West Consortium is still pressing ahead with plans to change AfC terms, the Staff Side will not be in a position to make progress on the national discussions.

    From an employer perspective - this is how they are positioning the consultation:

    Local employers may wish to be supportive, where practical, of local discussions on the consultation which is due to close on 27 July 2012.

    Since 2011, employer representatives on the NHS Staff Council have been stressing that changes were needed to the national pay and conditions in order to help employers address the unprecedented efficiency and quality challenges they are facing. Employers have continued to tell us that there is a need for greater flexibilities in the national system.

    The proposed changes to the NHS terms and conditions of service handbook initially focus on arrangements for pay progression and pay during sickness absence. These changes are essential if the national framework of pay and conditions is to be sustainable for the future.

    Trade unions have also proposed national principles that re-emphasise the importance of commitment to the job evaluation scheme during local workforce re-profiling exercises.

    Proposals on pay progression

    The proposals on pay progression are to:

    • introduce an explicit requirement that progression through all pay points, within pay bands, is conditional upon employees meeting locally determined performance standards in line with a new set of national principles
    • make pay progression at the top end of each pay band (starting at the first overlapping pay point) non-consolidated
    • allow employers locally to have alternative payment arrangements for senior posts within Agenda for Change, for example, spot salaries
    • remove the link between accelerated pay progression and “preceptorship” at the bottom of pay band 5. New starters to Band 5 would only be eligible for one incremental increase in the first year, rather than the current two, bringing this in line with the rest of the pay system.

    Download the pay progression proposal

    Proposals on pay during sickness absence

    The proposal on pay during sickness absence would be to only pay the basic salary inclusive of any high cost area supplements. It would not include any other allowances or payments linked to working patterns or additional work commitments e.g. unsocial hours payments.

    Download the sickness absence proposal

    Trade union proposal on workforce re-profiling and job evaluation

    In line with current job evaluation principles set out in the NHS Job Evaluation Handbook, the trade unions have proposed good practice principles on workforce re-profiling designed to support organisations undertaking this process.

    What happens next?

    We have continued to stress the importance of an early conclusion to these national discussions and understand that significant further delay may result in some employers having to consider local solutions. Trade unions have indicated that they will be in a position to share the outcome of their consultation in early September.

    More information from this perspective from:

  • 14 June 2012 10:43 AM | Anonymous

    A fantastic evening celebrating the 75th anniversary of Orthoptics was held at the Apothecaries' Hall in London on the 26th May 2012. And with it, came a sense of history as it was in this very hall in 1967 that Barbara Lee, a well-known past Chair of BIOS, had welcomed guests to an IOA event. This picture was featured in a book that all guests received on the night, marking the Society's significant birthday and achievements.

    It was attended by many past Chairman as well as the Chief Executive and Chair of the Society of Radiographers, the Director of the Allied Health Professions Federation and the Chief Executive of the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. It was also excellent to see a number of the younger members of the Society attending. There was a purple and orange theme to the evening (it being the BIOS logo colours) with flowers and tableware reflecting this.

    Bronia Unwin, BIOS archivist, had put together an excellent display of written material and equipment as well as a video of admissions in the late 60s.

    The day began with the EGM at City University London and continued with a walk through from the university to St Paul's Cathedral. The day was warm and sunny and so the pre- dinner drinks reception at the Apothecaries' Hall was held in the beautiful courtyard.

    Lesley-Anne Baxter gave a short address and ended by posing the question: “Who will organise the 100thAnniversary celebrations?” and Carolyn Calcutt gave a highly amusing after dinner review involving many choice anecdotes, but diplomatically not naming any names in the process.

    What guests said about the weekend and the dinner on Saturday 26thMay:
    • I would like to congratulate you (Anita) and Lesley-Anne and everybody involved in the organisation and implementation of Saturday’s excellent meetings; the guided walk, the choice of hotel and the superb celebratory dinner. It was a thoroughly enjoyable event and a fitting tribute to 75 years of Orthoptics.

    • A big "well done and thank you" for organising the anniversary dinner on Saturday. We all had a great time and it was lovely to see many faces I hadn't seen in 20+ years!

    • Thank you for organising such a fantastic weekend. Well Done!

    • I would like to thank you for all of your hard work on Saturday you must have been very pleased when you saw the beautiful weather.

    • It all went very well on Saturday and I enjoyed the day. Thanks for all your hard work.

    • Thank you for organising a very successful event.

    • Thank for all your hard work on Saturday. You must have been exhausted at the end of the evening. I hope you got chance to have a large glass of wine!!

    Thanks to Anita McCallum for organising the dinner, Sharon Owen for assisting with welcoming guests on the night, and to her husband, Ray Owen, the photographer for capturing the event so beautifully for us.

    Images are still available to view on-line at these links and can be purchased from mailto:ray.owen@btconnect.com



  • 16 May 2012 11:49 AM | Anonymous

    The argument for Regional Pay:

    The Department of Health says that private sector businesses can struggle to compete for staff in certain areas of the country where the NHS “overpays workers” and the pay differential between NHS and private sector workers is high.

    Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, is supporting proposals for regional pay for NHS workers – meaning that some nurses, midwives and hospital porters would be paid less in poorer parts of the country.

    The Department of Health has said in written evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body, which is examining regional pay, that “there is a prima facie case for the introduction of more market facing pay” for some staff, and the introduction of such pay would “enable more efficient and effective use of NHS funds.”

    The NHS Pay Review Body is due to report its conclusions this summer as part of plans to introduce more local variation in pay.

    The argument against Regional Pay

    Here are just five reasons why it doesn't add up:

    It's unfair

    Regional pay could mean two nurses or teachers with the same skills and experience being paid differently in two different places - even though they're doing the same job. People should be paid based on their skills and the work they do, not where they live. Low pay could make it harder for poorer regions to attract and keep the skilled public sector workers they need.

    Regional pay could also work against equal pay. Great progress has been made in the public sector in narrowing the pay gap between women and men. For instance, the Agenda for Change system in the NHS was designed to deliver equal pay. Bringing in local or regional pay could unravel this progress.

    It's bad for the economy

    Public sector workers are already feeling the pinch from pay freezes, the VAT rise and inflation. Regional pay would mean holding back pay for even longer in the parts of the country that are struggling the most.

    Holding back public sector pay will take money out of public sector workers' pockets that they would otherwise spend in local shops and businesses. Taking demand out of the economy like this will hurt the private sector and widen the north-south divide.

    It isn't backed up by evidence

    The government has argued that public sector pay stops the private sector growing. In fact, there's no evidence to support this. There is an average of five people chasing every job vacancy, and up to 30 unemployed people per vacancy in some areas. It's the lack of demand in the economy, not the wages of nurses and teachers that is causing the problem.

    It isn't what the private sector does

    Most big private sector employers recognise that a national system is the fairest and most efficient way to set pay. In fact, companies like Waterstones, Greggs, Marks and Spencer, BT and Halfords all take the same sort of approach as the public sector: a national pay system with limited additions for London and the south east of England.

    It's unpopular

    According to a recent opinion poll only 28% of voters believe the idea of extending pay freezes for public sector workers outside of the south east and London would be fair. As few as 17% believe that real term pay cuts for public sector workers would help low pay regional economies. It's time that coalition MPs listened to their constituents, heard their concerns and put a stop to these damaging and divisive plans.

    Why Regoinal Pay Doesnt Add up April 2012.pdf

    What do you think about this?

    Want to do something about it?

    Various materials are now up on a dedicated page of the TUC website at www.tuc.org.uk/payfair , including tools to help you write to your MPs and local newspapers and a model council motion.

  • 04 May 2012 3:14 PM | Anonymous
    The Social Partnership Forum brings together NHS employers, trade unions and the Department of Health to discuss, debate and involve partners in the development and implementation of the workforce implications of policy.

    In the May edition: read about the issues discussed at the national SPF meetings held in February and April and updates from the Staff Passport, HR Transition Forum, Embedding Partnership Working subgroups.  Other topics include the refreshed Partnership Agreement and Members Handbook, the second national transitional partnership event on 27 March at the TUC, the outcomes of the SPF 2012 stocktake review, and the results of the NHS Staff Survey.

    Read the latest bulletin
  • 24 April 2012 9:52 AM | Anonymous
    The pharmaceutical company Novartis is challenging the use of a cheaper alternative to its drug Lucentis for a common cause of loss of vision.

    The NHS in four areas in the south of England agreed last year that a drug called Avastin could be prescribed for the condition wet AMD.

    Lucentis is recommended for use by the NHS drugs watchdog NICE.

    Avastin is not officially approved for eye conditions, but is being widely used off licence.

    Severe loss of vision

    Wet age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is a common cause of loss of vision in older people.

    According to the NHS, around 70% of people with wet AMD will experience severe loss of sight within two years of being diagnosed.

    Lucentis, which costs around £740 per injection, is the treatment officially recommended to the NHS in England by the independent advisor NICE.

    It was developed for use in eye conditions and has been given a European licence, or safety approval, for treating wet AMD.

    The NHS in Southampton, Hampshire, The Isle of Wight and Portsmouth decided last year that it would also pay for the use of Avastin, where it was prescribed by an opthamologist.

    Avastin costs around £60 per injection, and has to be used off licence as it has not been formally approved for use in eyes.

    'Safety at risk'

    Novartis, which makes Lucentis, is seeking a judicial review of the policy to pay for Avastin on the NHS.

    The company argues that systems put in place to safeguard patients are being undermined.

    Novartis said: "It is unacceptable to put the safety of patients at risk through the widespread use of an unlicensed treatment when a licensed medicine is available.

    "It undermines the regulatory process that was introduced to safeguard patients."

    But the four primary care trusts, now working together, which agreed to fund Avastin say it is offered as an extra option for clinicians. They will still pay for the more expensive Lucentis when its prescribed.

    The PCTs say the cheaper alternative is safe and useful.

    "Avastin is internationally recognised as an effective treatment for AMD, and for example over 50% of AMD patients in the United States are treated with Avastin."

    'Greater clarity needed'

    Behind the legal case is a dilemma for the health service. Using a cheaper drug that seems to work well, even if it is not licensed for this condition, saves money.

    However, it could also create a disincentive for the pharmaceutical industry to develop expensive new treatments.

    The Macular Disease Society says there needs to be greater clarity. It is worried that as off licence use of Avastin has increased in the NHS, patients are sometimes being asked to decide which drug to try.

    Spokesperson Cathy Yelf said: "If Avastin is not as safe as Lucentis, no-one should be using it. If it is as good, then perhaps everyone should be using it. "

    There are some research studies under way to compare the two drugs, but NICE is unable to review Avastin for eye disease as it has not been officially approved for that use.

    See the article on the BBC News website

  • 23 April 2012 4:10 PM | Anonymous
    Our regulator, The Health Professions Council (HPC), has launched consultations to invite stakeholders for their views on its review of the profession-specific standards of proficiency for arts therapists, dietitians, occupational therapists, orthoptists, physiotherapists, and radiographers.

    The standards of proficiency serve a particular purpose – they are threshold standards for safe and effective practise in the UK. They are divided into generic standards (which apply to all the professions) and standards specific to each of the professions regulated. The HPC has already revised and restructured the generic standards. Under the new structure, the standards of proficiency will be profession-specific, listed under fifteen new generic standards.

    The review is an opportunity to make sure the standards of proficiency are relevant to each profession. No standards will be lost, but the language used may change to ensure the standards are appropriate and applicable to individual professions.

    Director of Policy and Standards, Michael Guthrie, commented:

    “At the start of the review of each profession’s standards, we asked the relevant professional bodies to review the standards of proficiency for their profession and recommend changes. We then used their comments to produce a revised set of draft standards for each profession, which we are now consulting on.

    “These consultations are about the standards for the first group of professions to undergo review. We will continue to review the profession-specific standards for the other professions we regulate on a rolling basis over the next 18 months.

    “We will use the responses we receive to decide if further changes are needed. After the final sets of standards are approved by our Council, they will be published. We will work with education providers to phase-in the new standards gradually after each profession’s revised standards are published.”

    The consultation will put the proposed standards before a wide range of stakeholders, including professional bodies, education providers, and others with an interest in our work. The consultation will run for fourteen weeks, until 27 July 2012.

    BIOS will of course be compiling a profession-wide response, so do let us know what your views are: mailto:bios@orthoptics.org.uk

    For further information about the consultation, please contact Alison Croad, Policy Officer on alison.croad@hpc-uk.org or email consultation@hpc-uk.org

    The full documents are available on-line and a copy can be downloaded from the HPC website: www.hpc-uk.org/aboutus/consultations/

    The Health Professions Council is an independent, UK-wide health regulator set up by the Health Professions Order (2001).  The HPC keeps a register for 15 different health professions and only  registers people who meet the standards it sets for their training, professional skills, behaviour and health. The HPC will take action against people who do not meet these standards or who use a protected title illegally.

  • 16 March 2012 9:35 AM | Anonymous

    Discussions concluded on public service pensions details

    FInal offer document:

    PENSIONS 2012 Proposed Final Agreement March 9 2012.pdf

    Discussions have now concluded with health, education and civil service unions on details for new public service pension schemes to be introduced from 2015.

    Heads of Agreement on the main elements of scheme design were reached on 20 December 2011 for the NHS Pension Scheme, the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme and the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.  Further work on the remaining details has taken place between departments and trades unions. Discussions have now concluded for these schemes and Proposed Final Agreements, based on the Heads of Agreement reached on 20 December, have been published today by departments.

    These Proposed Final Agreements remain in line with the approach set out in Lord Hutton’s report and will mean that public service pensions remain among the very best available. The agreements also continue to deliver the Government’s key objectives on linking Normal Pensions Age to State Pension Age and moving to schemes based on career average salary, while protecting those closest to retirement. While most workers will be asked to retire later and pay more towards their pension, at the same time, most low and middle earners working a full career will receive pension benefits at least as good, if not better, than they get now.  Those less than ten years from their Normal Pension Age on 1 April 2012 will continue to be protected from these changes.

    Details agreed include, a process with trades unions for assessing the equalities impacts of these reforms; clarification on death in service and other ancillary benefits, such as the treatment of members who leave active service but rejoin within five years; and options for members to contribute more in order to top up their pension if they choose to retire early. The enhanced cost ceilings set on 2 November 2011 remain unchanged, with no additional money made available.

    The majority of unions have agreed to take these Proposed Final Agreements to their Executives as the outcome of negotiations. In parallel with this process, the Government has begun working on the implementation of these scheme designs and will introduce legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows, so that new schemes can be in place by 2015.

    Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said:

    "The conclusion of talks at scheme level follows constructive discussion with unions on the final details of the Heads of Agreement set out last year.

    “These agreements mean that public servants who have dedicated their lives to serving the public will rightly continue to receive pensions that are among the very best available, while delivering the Government’s key objectives in full.

    “This is a fair deal for public service workers and an affordable deal for the taxpayer.”

    For the Local Government Pensions Scheme (LGPS) the Government, the LGA and trades unions agreed principles for further discussions on 20 December 2011, based on the Government’s key objectives of linking Normal Pension Age to State Pensions Age and moving to a career average scheme. All parties are working to agree the design of a new scheme by April 2012, for introduction in April 2014. These discussions are ongoing.


    1. The Government is committed to an average increase of 3.2 percentage points in member contributions, as set out at the Spending Review and phased in over three years from April 2012. The Government is not proposing any further increase in total employee scheme contribution rates.

    2. In July 2011, the Government agreed a process with trades unions for taking forward Lord Hutton’s proposals for long-term reform of public service pensions through scheme-specific talks. To provide the parameters for talks with trades unions, the Government set out initial cost ceilings at the beginning of October 2011. These cost ceilings set out the combined employee and taxpayer contributions. 

    3. Following these discussions, the Government increased these cost ceilings, making its offer 8 per cent more generous. On 20 December 2011, Heads of Agreement on the main elements of scheme design were reached within these cost ceilings for the NHS Pension Scheme, the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme, the Teachers’ Pension Scheme and the Local Government Pensions Scheme.

    4. The Department of Health, the Cabinet Office and the Department for Education, have today published the proposed final detailed design for their pensions schemes, following the conclusion of talks with unions. These proposed agreements can be found on departmental websites.

    5. Heads of Agreement for the Firefighters’ Pensions Scheme were set out on 9 February 2012. The remaining details are being finalised in discussions.

    6. Discussions on police, armed forces and judiciary are a separate process and proposals will be brought forward in due course.

  • 09 March 2012 3:04 PM | Anonymous
    A letter went to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, from RCGP and several other professional bodies, including BIOS, as co-signatories on 9th March.

    Our hope is that, ahead of  the Lib Dem Spring Conference, to make the appeal to this side of the Coalition Government to withdraw the Health and Social Care Bill.  
    The organisations signing the letter represent over 100,000 professionals working in the NHS and providing frontline care to patients. The  concern remains providing and planning the best possible quality of care to patients should the bill go through.

    Read the full letter:

    Letter to the Deputy Prime Minister 090312.pdf
  • 04 March 2012 5:29 PM | Anonymous
    The Response to Commissioning Outcomes Framework (COF) and further request for COF indicators response has now been submitted to NICE.

    This was co-ordinated by UK Vision Strategy and agreed with member organisations, including BIOS. Other member organisations incoude: RNIB, Guide Dogs and Royal College of Opthalmology.

    The COF was initiated by the NHS Commissioining Board
    and in conjunction with NICE


    What is the COF?

    The NHS Commissioning Board, supported by NICE and working with professional and patient groups, will develop a Commissioning Outcomes Framework (COF) that measures the health outcomes and quality of care (including patient reported outcome measures and patient experience) achieved by clinical commissioning groups.

    The COF will allow the NHS Commissioning Board to identify the contribution of clinical commissioning groups to achieving the priorities for health improvement in the NHS Outcomes Framework, while also being accountable to patients and local communities. It will also enable the commissioning groups to benchmark their performance and identify priorities for improvement.

    The NHS Commissioning Board is engaging with clinical commissioning groups and patient and professional organisations to develop emerging proposals for the COF. Find further details about this engagement.


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