Author: Paul Moloney, Industrial Relations Manager
The tell-tale signs that the summer is beginning to fade and autumn is about to take over are all around us.
The nights are drawing in, the schools are back, and of course the most important sign, the arrival of the TUC agenda for its annual gathering in September.
The SoR will again be making our usual impact, contributing to debates in the main meeting and also at fringe meetings conveniently arranged to make sure delegates have something to do at lunchtime, early evening, and for some even at breakfast.
Once again we have submitted two motions as we are allowed under TUC rules.
While it is always tempting to submit motions drawing the wider TUC family to the attention of work we have already done, as some unions do, we prefer to use TUC time more effectively and to properly represent the views of our members.
Our two motions cover what we believe are very important issues for our members, but go beyond our specific area of influence and should therefore also be of concern to members of other unions.
Our first motion is on organ donation, following support for Composite Motion 2 at our own ADC this year.
The motion we have submitted builds on that motion and the importance attached to the issue by our members.
Interestingly, a number of high-profile union leaders have indicated already their support and the personal interest they have in the subject as recipients or family members of donors themselves.
Our other motion calls on the TUC to look at whether changes can be made to the way patients are compensated when things go wrong.
The motion suggests that using the legal process and the inevitable adversarial approach this requires is not the best way to go about things.
The recent NHS Litigation Authority annual reportshows that £0.6bn was spent last year just on patient legal fees to achieve compensation.
Our concern goes beyond just the cost, as we believe that being subjected to possible legal action compromises the new duty new of candour members now have.
In short, we believe the current system is inefficient, costly and potentially harms patient safety. It serves only to encourage claims from no win no fee lawyers, rather than work to improve patient care.
We are hopeful that if the motion is passed there can be a wide ranging debate looking at all of the alternative options that ensure compensation is paid, lessons are learned and professional standards are upheld, but without the need for costly legal action to achieve these goals.
We need a system that works for patients, professionals and encourages the highest standards through professional sanction when appropriate, and not one working for lawyers.
We will also be contributing to a number of debates, particularly those relating to the future for the NHS and the role of AHPs in delivering quality care.
We will also contribute to the debate on productivity and the report produced by the Smith Institute which we supported and have covered before on the website. Richard Evans will also be one of the speakers at a fringe meeting organised on this issue.
So we expect to be busy and to make sure the SoR voice, your voice, is heard loud and clear once again.
It is anticipated that many at the congress will be preoccupied with the state of the Labour Party and the impact of Brexit.
But the trade union movement remains strong and vibrant as you would expect for what is the largest membership organisation by far in the UK.
An organisation that includes among its number airline pilots, professional footballers, famous actors and famous musicians, as well as the more typical, in the eyes of the media anyway, railway workers, nurses, local government workers, and us of course.
Our job is to make sure the TUC remains as relevant to us and the views of our members as it does to others and, in the current political climate, stands up for the things we value.
That is what we will be doing during this year’s congress and no doubt ruffling a few feathers as we do.