CONFERENCE AND 37th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE NHS RETIREMENT FELLOWSHIP
Eastwood Hall Hotel, Nottingham on Saturday, 25th November 2017
The AGM began with apologies from retiring Chairman, Audrey Harris, who was unable to attend as her husband, Martyn, who sang for us at our June Afternoon Tea, is in hospital, but not dangerously ill. The appointment of a new Chairman and Vice Chairman was brought forward on the Agenda and Margaret Moffat and George Kempton were appointed to these roles. This year Audrey will be a Trustee of the Fellowship and will succeed retiring Benevolent Fund Committee Chairman, Cynthia Matthews.
The Annual Report of the Honorary Treasurer, Paul Farenden, was received. He commented that he thinks the Fellowship should aim for 10,000 members and should be more involved in the NHS. The latter theme was also emphasised later by Patron Ethel Armstrong whilst John Rostill in his speech said that there was a lack of engagement with Trusts and more members should join as Trust members and stand for election as Governors. There were comments from the floor about the increased subscriptions which acted as a catalyst for some branches to close, especially small ones that were struggling. This view is also put forward in the National Council Report.
Cynthia answered questions from the floor about the Benevolent Fund. Only 3 grants, totalling £1,337 were made in the year ending 31st March 2017. The balance carried forward is £23,955 and members commented that £4,000 is a very small baseline for refusing grants (maximum £800) John Rostill said that branch members should be better informed about the Fund.
A talk by Danny Mortimer, CEO NHS Employers, covered recruitment to the NHS, the largest employer in the country with over 1 million employees. There were plenty of ideas and comments from the floor.
John Rostill OBE talked about the way forward for the Fellowship. He was concerned about vacancies for Regional Representatives, branch closures, the Benevolent Fund, ineffective publicity for 2018, the Web Site, involving a freelance journalist and no dates for Royal Garden Parties. He was more positive about 2018 and the 40th and 70th anniversaries, said it could be a make or break year, services in Westminster Abbey and York Minster, Open Days, a Big 70 Tea, Exhibitions eg Brighton, Health Heroes nominated by MPs, branches to write to MPs (with a pre-Christmas template). 70 people were in the NHS on 5th July 1948 and 4 are here – wants stories – need to train members as interviewers as Gwen Crossley from Manchester has been trained and has leaflets.
Ethel Armstrong, Patron, talked about 70 years in the NHS and her Media Experience.
Ken Jarrold CBE, Patron, was an excellent Question Time Chairman debating ‘The Future of the Fellowship’ with a panel of John, Paul, George and Ringo –Oops! I mean Margaret.
Regional Meeting Harrogate: Thursday, 15th February 2018
The Yorkshire Hotel, Harrogate, was the venue for the Regional Meeting of the NHS Retirement Fellowship and members assembled at 12.00 noon from various regional branches for a sandwich lunch before the meeting commenced at 1.00 pm.
Ken Jarrold, Patron of the Fellowship, was the first person to speak. He recalled his time in the NHS and how pleased he was to be a Patron of the Fellowship. He stated that the NHS was the most loved institution in the UK but that due to increasing demand and modern techniques and medicines, more funding was required. He did say that funding as a percentage of GDP was lower than it had been in the past and decisions would have to be made as to where extra funds were obtained from - through a special tax or insurance schemes (as happens in the United States). Ken personally hoped it would be through additional taxation.
Ethel Armstrong then spoke and recalled starting work at the RVH in Newcastle in 1948 and how passionate she was about the NHS and the Retirement Fellowship. She stated how fulfilling she had found the various roles she had held in the Fellowship and although when standing on cold Railways Stations, many times she wished she was in her nice warm home. She said that it had been a privilege and a pleasure to serve the NHSRF.
The Fellowship had been delighted that Ethel was awarded a well deserved MBE in this year’s Honours List.
John Rostill then spoke and asked if anyone would be interested in becoming the Regional Representative – an important role that was vital for the Region. He said that he would be happy to give further details after the meeting to anyone who might be interested. He then gave an update on the various events taking place to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the start of the NHS, including a project in Manchester to collate and publish memories of the last 70 years from staff and patients, and two Church services, one at Westminster Abbey and one at York Minster. John also mentioned that a Lottery grant had been received which would be very helpful.
The Fellowship Chairman, Margaret Moffat, then thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting.