Committee (1st Day)
Health and Social Care Bill
Baroness Jolly (Liberal Democrat)
My Lords, it seems that we are now getting an outbreak of agreement that there should be a duty on the Secretary of State regarding education and training in the Bill. This is to be welcomed.
The noble Lords, Lord Mawhinney and Lord Kakkar, put it really well, and I will slightly paraphrase what they said. The delivery of high-quality patient care is absolutely predicated on quality training. It is also critical, however, that standards are set, maintained and monitored, not only for doctors and nurses-we have heard a lot today from very eminent doctors-but for allied health professionals.
There will, however, be a plethora of local healthcare providers: some within the NHS and some outside. We are anxious to ensure that the local responses to the delivery of training will meet these standards. We hope that proper checks and balances will be put in place to give some sort of national oversight on this. The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, alluded to this in her remarks. I was going to carry on by giving a couple of examples about the need for co-ordination across providers and talking about these independent treatment centres. I will refer only to phase 1 and not to phase 2; we will have got it right by then.
There were complaints, certainly in my local district general hospital, that doctors were seeing only quite complicated operations and not standard ones. It was to do with hips there, and we have already heard about elbows or shoulders elsewhere. Similarly, the noble Lord, Lord Winston, cited hernias and I have a hernia example, which I shall not share with the House.
With this Bill, there is a wholesale need for a total change of culture within the NHS about the way we work. If we put patients at the centre it will create a huge need for training. It will be one-off training in the first instance but it will also need to be ongoing. This is something that I had hoped the Future Forum might be considering as part of its deliberation.
We are assured that the Government are keeping deaneries in place at present, but we share the anxiety of some of the royal colleges about their future. I have to repeat what others have said-and I heard it only this morning: there really is anxiety about this second Bill. The first assurance was that it would come in the next Session but now organisations are worried that the delay might be even longer. Therefore, we need something from the Minister that will help to focus people's attention and give them confidence that things are in place.
I have spoken to universities and other providers of training. They need reassurance and certainty, too. They need to plan their staffing and, in this, they form part of the health economy. It is in no one's interest to destabilise them. Can the Minister offer such reassurance with this?
We welcome the duty for Monitor to have regard to the need for high standards in the education and training of healthcare professionals. How will this interact with the potential for insufficient caseloads, in some circumstances, to train new healthcare professionals properly? How will national oversight of education and training be carried out to ensure higher quality? All these areas need to be teased out further, which we will come back to on Report.
We all acknowledge the critical need for training and for standard setting. Can my noble friend give the House some reassurance that he will look at these issues again and, where possible and appropriate, consider regulation as a way of moving some of them forward in advance of the Bill?