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MONICA ALI on Pharmaceutical industries, Novartis and India

A snippet of news caught my eye in the Financial Times, a poll saying that pharmaceutical companies risk losing custom depending on their reputation for developing new, safe and affordable medicines. “It appears to run counter to the view among most pharmaceuticals industry executives that consumer perception is largely irrelevant in healthcare.”

Did you just do a double-take there? Leaders of a modern industry who don’t really care what their customers think? Is this the evolution of a perfect business, or the delusion of a terminal one? I read on…

“Consumer power over the choice of medicines is growing,” the poll said. On the same day, Pfizer cuts 10,000 jobs to save $2 billion a year because, among other things, it doesn’t have enough big new drugs in development, “a problem it shares with other Big Pharma players”. Earlier, the US Supreme Court rules to make it easier to challenge US pharmaceutical patents because the existing rules stifle innovation. And news that measles deaths drop from 873,000 to 345,000 in six years because of unprecedented coordination and delivery of affordable health care, especially in Africa. Meanwhile, 35 million people died last year from chronic diseases – heart attacks, strokes, cancers, respiratory illnesses, diabetes – half of whom are under 70, half are women, and 80% are in poor and developing countries.

A spotlight starts to shine into the dark corners of the pharmaceutical industry. These companies don’t make widgets, they are the commercial face of sustaining and enhancing life and I suspect for this reason alone they have considered themselves beyond mortal judgement. Like any empire before it, the industry is in shock and denial as its Ivory Towers are shaken.

Amid relentless growth in sales and profits, the industry’s patents are expiring. It is being pressured to cut costs and prices as health budgets and insurance schemes are squeezed. It hasn’t been developing cures for diseases that affect the poor and the elderly. It has underestimated and mismanaged emerging markets. All the while investors keep demanding their share of profits, a powerful incentive to continue ‘business as usual’ and pay lip-service to society’s changing expectations for health and fairness.

The industry is overdue for a shake-up and new leadership. I can see that happening by public outrage, maybe sparked by a new pandemic – another flu – that will finally expose the lack of investment into research and the lack of commercial and political commitment to get health care and affordable medicines to all people.

In view of all this, I have to ask: what the hell is Novartis doing in India? Novartis – the darling of institutional investors and Pharma leader in economic and ethical performance: 90,924 employees; $40 billion sales; $3.20 in share earnings; consensus among market analysts that the company will “outperform”; one of the world’s most admired and respected companies according to the Financial Times and Fortune and Barron’s magazines.

Novartis owns an anti-cancer drug Glivec, a $2.5 billion-a-year blockbuster and by all accounts a brilliant medicine. India refused it a patent last year, saying that a subtle change in its compound did not make it a new drug. It is easy to see why Novartis is challenging the decision. It has a huge vested interest. In doing so, Novartis has countered with a PR offensive about its wonder drug, and innovation, philanthropy, compensation and corporate social responsibility.

These are red herrings – very important, of course, but the problem is not about Glivec, not really. Novartis has actually launched an accompanying suit that challenges the very law that India used, saying that it is an “additional hurdle” that “discourages innovation”. Novartis intimates it is doing India a kindly act, a gentle legal nudge to get its house in order.

India is the developing world’s pharmacy. Half of all HIV/AIDS drugs used in developing countries are cheaper versions of expensive patented brands, made in India. Generic competition is a proven way to keep medicine prices down. The HIV/AIDS patients I met when I recently travelled to Uganda with Oxfam, along with the millions of people in other areas of Africa and elsewhere are getting treatment today that they could not afford if India’s ability to produce generic medicines is compromised. And that is exactly what Novartis is trying to do.

Campaigners such as Oxfam say that the Indian law is compatible with World Trade Organisation rules that guarantee developing countries the right to promote generic production in order to make drugs cheaper. WTO members unanimously agreed that all countries have a right to protect public health without fear of challenge and none of them have expressed concern or challenged India’s patent law.


Novartis lawsuit threatens access to medicines for millions, says OXFAM

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis must drop its controversial court case against India, says international agency Oxfam.

Novartis has launched two suits against India after the country refused to grant a patent for Glivec, an anti-cancer medicine. Novartis is challenging not just the Glivec decision, but also a section of India’s patent law designed to promote cheaper generic medicines for poor patients who cannot afford patented medicines.

The law allows India to refuse a patent for an existing medicine that has been slightly modified. In countries such as the US, companies have modified medicines then re-patented them to extend their monopoly and keep generic competition off the market. India’s law ensures that this practice – called “ever-greening” – would not block access to affordable generics. Most Indians pay for medicines out-of-pocket, therefore cheaper generic medicines are a lifeline.

Oxfam says that India’s law reflects an important public health safeguard that was agreed at the World Trade Organization. No country has challenged the legality of India’s law at the WTO.

Indian generic medicines are also critical to public health in other developing countries. India is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of generic medicines to developing countries, particularly in Africa, reaching millions of people. More than half the medicines now being used for AIDS treatment in developing countries come from India. If Novartis wins its case, access to vital affordable medicines for AIDS and other diseases will be jeopardized.

“Novartis claims it is simply trying to protect its intellectual property over a single drug. But the truth is this is a direct attack against India’s sovereign right to protect public health,” said Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair head Celine Charveriat.

The Glivec case alone is vital to the thousands of cancer patients in India who may be unable to get affordable generic versions of the medicine in the future. Branded Glivec sells for $27,000 per patient per year in India, but the generic version sells for $2,000 per patient per year.

Novartis says that it gives Glivec for free to poor patients, but Oxfam says this is not a sustainable way of providing medicines. “Novartis cannot guarantee to provide Glivec for free for life to the 24,000 new leukemia patients diagnosed in India each year. Corporate philanthropy has its place, but generic competition is the proven way of keeping drug prices affordable,” said Charveriat.

“Glivec aside, the global ramifications of the case against India’s patent law could stain Novartis’ reputation forever,” Charveriat said. “There are an estimated 9,000 patent applications waiting to be reviewed by Indian authorities of which roughly 7,000 are believed to be modifications of old drugs. If India is made to change its law, many of these medicines might become patented, and therefore off-limits to cheap generic competition.”

The Novartis challenge comes at a time when the global pharmaceutical industry as a whole is facing difficulties. Patents on many blockbuster drugs are beginning to expire and not enough new medicines are in the development pipeline. Therefore, companies are seeking to extend and protect their monopolies around the world in order to curb generic competition and maximize their profits on existing drugs. “Novartis should be showing leadership in finding new solutions in a changing market place, rather than defending their vested interests and threatening the generic medicines that millions of people depend on,” Charveriat said.


Actor Scarlett Johansson visits India & Sri Lanka; commits the helping end poverty

Delhi: Actor Scarlett Johansson has joined international agency Oxfam in the fight against poverty following a life-changing trip to India and Sri Lanka. During her ten-day visit, Scarlett learned how investing in education and basic health-care are vital to saving lives and lifting millions of poor children and families out of poverty. She also met Indian women who survived domestic violence and Tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka.

Scarlett, who has been a long-time supporter of Oxfam, was moved by the organisation’s response to saving and rebuilding lives following the 2004 Tsunami. She travelled with the international development organization to better understand the complex issues facing poor communities and how support and funding from the US and other rich nations can help end poverty.

She began her trip spending a day with young girls at an Oxfam-funded school in rural Uttar Pradesh, India that has enabled over a thousand poor children from the lowest Dalit caste to gain a basic education. In Delhi she met with survivors of domestic violence who are part of Oxfam’s “We Can”? campaign. Over 800,00 people have joined the campaign to overcome domestic violence which affects millions of women across South Asia.

“Having visited Oxfam-funded school programs in rural communities has made me realize how vital education is to developing countries in bringing people out of poverty and giving them a sense of dignity, self-worth and confidence”? Scarlett Johansson said.

Scarlett, who is currently in India, said, “I met a young girl, Gudiya, at a school for Dalit children, a community considered to be the lowest class. She was an amazing, bright young girl, full of ambition and attending the fifth grade. When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she said ‘a government official’. Every morning she rises at 3am to study and then complete the household chores before walking for half an hour to school. I asked her, “How she felt she would be able to raise her family and also hold a government position?” She responded confidently, “I can manage”. Her self-pride and drive to succeed was an obvious outcome from her schooling.

Sri Lanka: She met with a Tsunami survivor Bandawathi Maitipe and her son, Asela Abeytunga. She is piecing her life together after losing her husband, younger son and tailoring business.

“The devastation both directly and indirectly as a result of the tsunami is overwhelming. A mother who had received aid money to finance her small business and was living with her 25 year-old-son had lost both her husband and younger son as well as their home and tailoring shop, the only source of income. After two years, they are still waiting to be housed, after along struggle with a landlord from whom they’ve had rented the house for the past fifty years. Afterwards, I went to visit a rural fishing community which Oxfam had fully irrigated, allowing people to live safely in a government development. After hearing such a devastating case that morning, seeing this village thrive gave me a sense of hope and progress. It was an incredible opportunity to see the grass roots approach being taken by non-governmental organizations, such as Oxfam, towards reconstructing the lives of this devastated country?

Oxfam’s Executive Director, Jeremy Hobbs, said that Scarlett’s involvement was very important in helping gain attention to the solutions to poverty. “By supporting Oxfam, Scarlett is taking a stand alongside millions of people globally who are working to overcome poverty”, said Hobbs.

Her support is crucial in helping to show how the smallest donation to Oxfam can mean the world of difference to a poor community.


Brent TPCT reported to the CRE by the local MP Sarah Teather

Sarah Teather, Brent’s Liberal Democrat MP, has reported Brent TPCT (Teaching Primary Care Trust) to the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) for failing to conduct a Race Equality Impact Assessment on health cuts that are likely to fall disproportionately on Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities.

Sarah has regularly spoken in parliament of the TPCT’s estimated £53million deficit; and the devastating effect this will have on patient care in the borough. Now, Sarah has defended the rights of her constituents by asking the CRE to investigate whether the TPCT has broken its legal obligation to promote race equality, by failing to follow the stipulated Race Equality Scheme.

Areas facing cuts that could particularly impact on BME communities include: Pregnancy and sexual health advice. Teenage pregnancy rates are high amongst young people in BME groups in Brent and this has been identified as a priority in the Borough’s teenage pregnancy and parenthood strategy; School nurse provision: 70% of the children in Brent schools are from BME communities; Dietetics and diabetes services: Diabetes is particularly prevalent amongst Asian communities; Interpretation services: Brent has a transient population, with many recent migrants and many long standing immigrants who need help with English.

In many other areas, it is impossible to assess the impact of the cuts, because no information has been published relating to the kinds of individuals using local health services, and no race equalities impact assessment has been conducted.

Local Liberal Democrat MP for Brent East, Sarah Teather, said: "Here in Brent, we are proud to be one of the most ethnically diverse communities in Britain. Yet the TPCT has completely overlooked this in their crippling programme of cuts to our local services.”

Patricia Hewitt and the Labour Government are holding a gun to the head of Brent TPCT, who in turn are scrambling to make cuts, without thinking through the consequences. The most frustrating thing about many of the cuts is that they are to the services that prevent people getting ill in the first place.

Everyone who uses our local NHS will be affected. But the cuts will be felt particularly hard in the Black and Ethnic Minority communities who depend on many of the vital services up for the chop. The TPCT’s short term slash and burn policy will have a devastating long term impact. Decades of work reaching out to hard to reach groups in Brent’s diverse communities is now threatened.

The TPCT must come clean immediately and promise to implement a full assessment of the impact of their cuts on racial equality. It is unacceptable for our BME communities to bear the burnt of the Government’s financial mismanagement of the health service.


ARE BRITISH ASIANS PUTTING THEIR SAFETY AT RISK WHEN VISITING FRIENDS AND FAMILY ABROAD?

With nearly 700,000 British citizens visiting India, Pakistan or Bangladesh each year – many of these visiting friends and family – thousands of British nationals of Asian origin could be putting their safety at risk because they are not preparing for their trips, according to new research by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).

The results of the study* show that whilst British Asians take precautions when they are travelling to holiday destinations such as Europe and the USA, it is often not the case when it comes to visiting friends and family in their country of origin. Many travel without insurance, without having had the right vaccinations or even without ensuring they have the correct re-entry documents.

Lord Triesman, Foreign Office Minister responsible for Consular Affairs, said: “It is important to realise that when travelling abroad, situations can arise that cannot be dealt with as easily as if you were at home. British nationals of Asian origin, visiting their country of origin, should ensure they are fully prepared.”

As part of the Know Before You Go Campaign, the Foreign Office has issued the following advice to British citizens visiting friends and family in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh:

1. Always take out travel insurance

Medical expenses can be extortionate for example it can cost up to £45,000 to get transported by air ambulance back to the UK from the Indian subcontinent.

* It is unlikely you will have free access to good quality medical treatment and costs can be extremely high if you become ill or injured.

* If you are a dual national, seek advice from your insurer on whether this affects your cover.

2. Ensure all documentation is correct

* Make sure the name on your passport is the same one you give when booking flights and arranging other travel documentation.

* If you have dual nationality, make sure you have a Certificate of Entitlement (to the Right of Abode) in the passport of your other nationality for you and your family .

* Make a photocopy of the relevant pages in your passports (back page of your British passport containing your photograph and details and the Certificate of Entitlement in your other passport) and keep them separately to your passports.

3. Know your nationality status

* If you are a dual national in the country of your other nationality, Her Majesty's Government can provide you with consular assistance only in exceptional circumstances.

* If you or your father were born in Pakistan, Bangladesh or India, you may be considered a national of that country by the authorities, even if you don’t hold a passport of that country. This, again, may limit the assistance that the British government can offer you – so the onus is on you to be prepared for your trip.

4. Go to your GP to check whether you or your family need vaccinations

* Even if you have lived in a country in the past, you may no longer be immune to diseases local to that region.

* Ensure all required vaccinations are up-to-date.

* Check the Department of Health website at www.dh.gov.uk for advice on current inoculations required for the country you are planning to visit.

5. Know the personal import laws

It is illegal to bring meat products & pickles, milk, dairy or other animal products (e.g. fish, eggs, honey), chestnuts, potatoes or potato seeds into the UK from any country outside the EU

* Check www.defra.gov.uk for more information

6. Update yourself on the area you’re travelling to

* The laws, customs, political situation or safe and unsafe areas of a region can change very quickly. Check the Foreign Office website on www.fco.gov.uk/travel and click on ‘Travel Advice By Country’.

* Register via the website for your free email alerts service where you will be sent all the relevant travel advice changes to your favourite destinations. 

Examples of what the Foreign Office can and cannot do for you when you are in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh

We can:

* Issue a replacement passport if yours is lost or stolen

* Provide help if you have been the victim of crime or are in hospital.

* Provide details of local lawyers, interpreters, doctors and funeral directors.

* Offer support in cases of child abduction, death of relatives, missing people kidnapping and forced marriages.

* Make special arrangements in cases of terrorism, civil disturbance or natural disaster.

We cannot help you enter a country, for example if you do not have a visa or your passport is not valid or give you legal advice, investigate crimes or carry out searches for missing people.

We cannot get you better treatment in hospital than is given to local people or pay any bills or give you money or make travel arrangements for you or business arrangements on your behalf or get involved in land disputes or intervene in dowry disputes.


EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES COMMISSION REPORT ENDORSES SMARTER WORKING

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) is yet another organistion which has discovered that smarter working is the way forward for the UK. It is almost repeating the comments made by the TUC, CBI, Transport for London, RAC Foundation and BT where these organisations signed the Work Wise UK ‘concordat’ to encourage the wider adoption of smarter working practices across the UK and bring about a workplace revolution.

In its report, ‘Working outside the box’, published today, the EOC reveals that 6.5 million people in Britain could be using their skills more fully if more flexible working was available. It warns that rigid working practices are driving highly qualified workers into jobs below their skill level in order that they can achieve a work – life balance.

The report goes on to say: “Outdated workplace cultures are further damaging the economy by increasing pressure on an over-stretched transport system. Overcrowded rush-hour trains and motorways are causing misery for commuters and wasting time for employers”.

Work Wise UK chief executive, Phil Flaxton, said: “Work Wise UK fully endorses the findings of the EOC report, especially as the same issues were raised by several leading businesses and organisations yesterday as they signed the Work Wise UK concordat.

“It is apparent that the calls for change in working practices is gaining momentum. As we have been saying for some time now, wide adoption of smarter working practices is an obvious answer to the four main issues facing our economy today: competitiveness, the environment, road congestion and quality of life.

“It is not as though smarter working is untested and untried: BT has been using smarter working practices for over 10 years, with productivity increases of 20 per cent where they are introduced. Currently, 80,000, of its workforce, including around 12,000 homeworkers, are working flexibly.

“Smarter working is a win – win answer, there is no downside. The only obstacles to the wider adoption of smarter working practices are culture and management style, but even these are not insurmountable.”

Further information about Work Wise UK and to view the concordat go to www.workwiseuk.org.


MERCER’S REMARKS ON ETHNIC MINORITIES IN ARMED FORCES REPELLENT - LIB DEMS

The Liberal Democrats have described as “staggering” and “repellent” the views about ethnic minority soldiers in the Armed Forces expressed by the high-ranking Conservative Patrick Mercer.

The MP for Newark, who has today been sacked from his position as Shadow Homeland Security Minister, said that being called a “black bastard” was part and parcel of Army life for ethnic minority soldiers.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Leader Menzies Campbell’s Chief of Staff, Edward Davey MP said:

“These are staggering remarks from a frontbench spokesman. His position clearly became untenable.

“Comments like this undermine all those in the army who have gone to great lengths to ensure that every soldier is treated fairly.

“Despite David Cameron’s desperate attempts to portray his party as moderate and modern, the reality is that the heart and soul of the Conservative Party still holds deeply unpleasant views.”

Commenting further, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson, Lord (Navnit) Dholakia said:

“It is shocking to think that a member of David Cameron’s front bench could hold such repellent views.

“Despite his departure from the Tory shadow cabinet, ethnic minority communities will be deeply uncomfortable voting for a party which contains Mr Mercer as an MP.”

Mr Mercer states, "The offence I have obviously caused is deeply regretted. I had the privilege to command soldiers from across the East Midlands of whom many came from racial minorities. It was a matter of great pride to me that racial minorities prospered inside the unit, and, indeed at one stage all of my Company Sergeant Majors were black.

"What I have said is clearly misjudged and I can only apologise if I have embarrassed in anyway those fine men whom I commanded. I have no hesitation in resigning my front-bench appointment."

The Ealing Southall Conservative Asssociation

 Dr Anita Kapoor was elected as the clear winner of the position of Chairman of The Ealing Southall Conservative Association on the 28th of February. The First Asian Woman to hold such a post.

President  David Millican

Vice President     Maron Honeyborne

Vice President     Michael Pack

Chairman        Dr Anita Kapoor

Deputy Chairman (Membership) Dr G. Singh

Deputy Chairman (Political): Dr Gupta

Hon. Secretary: June Regan

Treasurer: Gabrielle Joyce

 Says Anita Kapoor,”My vision for E.S.C.A. is to give the people of Ealing Southall a clear optionto vote Conservative.We have taken over the Council  at the last councillor electionsi 2006.People are already seeing the difference, Cleaner Streets,well managed services,but there is also much to do”.

“I was honoured to be elected not only as an Asian but also as a woman.I hope that this well encourage more woman to come forward and take responsibilty for their surroundings and society in general.We are the  greater consumers of services whether it is for educating our young ,nhs,or public services.It is us who  must resolve the problems of drugs, alcholism,abuse,prostitution.We as women must make a stand of what we as society will or will not accept.”


The Ealing Southall Conservative Asssociation

 Dr Anita Kapoor was elected as the clear winner of the position of Chairman of The Ealing Southall Conservative Association on the 28th of February. The First Asian Woman to hold such a post.

President  David Millican
Vice President     Maron Honeyborne
Vice President     Michael Pack
Chairman        Dr Anita Kapoor
Deputy Chairman (Membership) Dr G. Singh
Deputy Chairman (Political): Dr Gupta
Hon. Secretary: June Regan
Treasurer: Gabrielle Joyce

 Says Anita Kapoor,”My vision for E.S.C.A. is to give the people of Ealing Southall a clear optionto vote Conservative.We have taken over the Council  at the last councillor electionsi 2006.People are already seeing the difference, Cleaner Streets,well managed services,but there is also much to do”.
“I was honoured to be elected not only as an Asian but also as a woman.I hope that this well encourage more woman to come forward and take responsibilty for their surroundings and society in general.We are the  greater consumers of services whether it is for educating our young ,nhs,or public services.It is us who  must resolve the problems of drugs, alcholism,abuse,prostitution.We as women must make a stand of what we as society will or will not accept.”


A Political family - Dr Anita Kapoor flanked by her husband Mr Ashok Kapoor and son Amit Kapoor. (Both Conservatiove councillors in Ealing)


GURKHAS TO RECEIVE IMPROVED TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE

Gurkha soldiers are to have access to the same generous pensions as the rest of the British Army, Defence Minister Derek Twigg announced.

Gurkhas already enjoy the same pay and tax benefits as the wider Army, but the latest move will mean serving Gurkhas and those who retired on or after 1 July 1997 will have the opportunity to transfer from their Gurkha Pension Scheme to the main Armed Forces Pension Scheme.

Mr Twigg, Under Secretary of State for Defence and Veterans Minister, announced that the significant improvements to the terms and conditions of service for Gurkhas will bring them in line with the rest of the British Army.

Gurkhas who have served for at least 5 years will have the opportunity to transfer to other units within the wider Army to pursue their chosen career path. They will also have the same leave entitlements as the rest of the Army.

Work is underway to see how woman can be recruited into the Brigade of Gurkhas for the first time.

All ranks in the Brigade of Gurkhas will benefit from the new measures. Derek Twigg said: "This is the right thing to do. As a Government, we have continually sought to ensure equality amongst our workforce here in the UK and I’m delighted to announce it today.

"The improved terms and conditions of service will form the basis for continued Gurkha service in the British Army, which is made possible by the long-standing and friendly relations between the Governments and peoples of the United Kingdom and Nepal."

The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, said:

"This is a historic day for the Brigade of Gurkhas. I am delighted that serving Gurkhas will have the same terms and conditions of service as their counterparts in the wider Army. Their contribution to operations around the world has been and will continue to be a major contribution to Britain’s Defence commitments."

The Colonel Commandment of the Brigade of Gurkhas, Lieutenant General Sir Philip Trousdell, said: "I welcome the results of the review and the positive outcome that it delivers for the Brigade of Gurkhas. It meets the needs and aspirations of the modern Gurkha soldier based n the UK, Brunei and Nepal, and those currently deployed on operations. The review will ensure that the Brigade continues to contribute effectively to current and future operations whilst maintaining its unique characteristics."

Gurkhas will still be recruited in Nepal and serve as Nepalese citizens within the British Army.

Government of Nepal have welcomed these changes to the terms and conditions of service.

MAJOR CHANGES

1. Nationality and Status

Gurkhas will continue to be selected and recruited in Nepal; and remain as Nepalese citizens throughout their service. Service will be in formed units consisting entirely of Gurkhas, except for British officers and a few specialists, and units will be part of the Brigade of Gurkhas (BG). Only Gurkhas will be recruited to these units. At the end of their service, Gurkhas will be offered the choice of discharge in Nepal of in UK.

2. Wider Employment & Transfer

Gurkha soldiers will be eligible to apply for transfer to Regiments and Corps outside the BG, on the same terms as the rest of the Army, having served a minimum period of 5 years service in BG.

3. Recruitment and Selection

Recruiting and selection of Gurkhas will remain in Nepal and will be owned and managed by the Army Recruitment and Training Division (ARTD). Recruiting and selection standards for Gurkhas will be aligned with British selection arrangements, in due course, following further study. Part of that study will examine the feasibility of Nepalese women being recruited into the Brigade of Gurkhas non-infantry units.

4. Training

The current Gurkha training regime will be retained for the time being while ARTD lead a programme aimed at alignment with the UK training regime. ARTD will also commence a programme to develop an acceptable training regime for Gurkha women within the current British training structure for women.

5. Pay & Allowances

Gurkha pay will adopt full UK rates. The same applies to commissioned Gurkhas who will be assimilated on to the normal Army officer pay scales. Re-employed Retired Gurkha Officers are to be assimilated on to FTRS Home Commitment pay scales.

6. Leave of Absence

Gurkhas are to be provided with the same leave arrangements as for British soldiers. Similar alignment will include all types of special leave such as parental leave, career breaks, and carers’ leave. Consequentially, the practice of Nepal Long Leave (NLL) will cease.

Gurkhas with less than 3 years service will have the option of having the "Get You Home (Early Years)(Overseas Allowance) – GYH(EY)(OA)" package, which assists young soldiers from overseas to maintain contact with their overseas families.

7. Pensions

Gurkhas recruited after 1 December 2006 will join the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2005 (AFPS 05). Gurkhas serving on 1 October 2007 who joined on or after 6 April 2005 but before 6 April 2006 (i.e. the 2006 intake) will be offered the option to transfer from the Gurkha Pension Scheme (GPS) to AFPS 05.

Gurkhas serving on 1 October 2007 who were serving before 6 April 2005 will be offered the option to transfer from GPS to either AFPS 75 or AFPS 05.

Gurkhas who retired between 1 July 1997 and 5 April 2006 will be offered the option to transfer to AFPS 75 or remain in the GPS. Those who retired after 6 April 2006, but before 1 October 2007, will be offered the options to transfer to AFPS 75 or AFPS 05 or remain in the GPS.

8. Welfare and Education

Gurkha children will have the same educational opportunities as their British counterparts. Additional welfare support staff will be available to the Army Welfare Service to cope with the additional family welfare issues relating to the introduction of Gurkha MAS. Aftercare provision for Gurkhas and their dependants will be the same as that available for British personnel. Present establishment of Religious teachers (RTs) – often referred to as Pandits – will be increased from 3 to 9. The present special cultural support provided within Gurkha units will continue. Headquarters Brigade of Gurkhas secretariat support will be reinforced to become the focus for the provision of Benevolence and Welfare Support to Gurkha ex-servicemen in UK.

 

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