STPs: Five-year Workforce Plans

Health and Social Care – in the House of Commons on 26th March 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

What guidance the Government have issued to sustainability and transformation partnerships on drafting their five-year workforce plans.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

Workforce is a key priority for the Government, which is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State asked Baroness Dido Harding to develop an interim workforce implementation plan for the spring, including a 2019-20 action plan. It is right that local leaders and clinicians should be empowered to shape the services they need, which is why NHS Improvement has written to all system leaders in England to ask for their views on the vision that is coming forward.

Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

The all-party parliamentary group on mental health’s recent report found that workforce is the biggest challenge to delivering improvements to mental health care. Given that there are 4,000 fewer mental health nurses than there were in 2010, what additional guidance and funding will the Government provide to ensure that local partnerships can recruit mental health nurses, and what are they doing to expand medical school places so that we can train more doctors, particularly in psychiatric specialties?

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The hon. Gentleman asked a number of questions there. It is true that the NHS has recently asked all sustainability and transformation partnerships and integrated care systems to create new five-year plans by autumn 2019 setting out how they are going to transform services. He will know that mental health is a priority in the long-term plan, and that we are expanding the number of places for clinicians.

Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford

Will my hon. Friend meet me to discuss the severe shortage of pathologists to carry out post mortems? Professor Peter Hutton’s report referenced some ideas that we could take forward.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

My hon. Friend has already mentioned several such ideas and I would be happy to meet him to discuss them.

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

Cancer Research UK estimates that by 2035 there will be over half a million new cancer cases—up by 150,000 a year on 2015 levels. In order to meet the Government’s ambition of diagnosing 75% of cancers at an early stage, does the Minister accept that the NHS will need a proper training and recruitment plan for its cancer workforce, which must be fully funded in the upcoming spending review?

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The hon. Gentleman is right: early diagnosis of cancer is vital for successful outcomes. The Government are absolutely committed to a cancer workforce with the skills and expertise to ensure that 75% of all cancers are diagnosed early, not just the top 10. As I have said several times, that is why we asked Baroness Dido Harding to develop a detailed workforce plan to ensure that that can be delivered.

Photo of Henry Smith Henry Smith Conservative, Crawley

Blood cancer is the fifth most common and the third biggest killer in the UK. What assurances can I get that the workforce in that area will be increased?

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

My hon. Friend has been a champion of this cause for a long time, raising the matter on the Floor of the House several times. He can be assured that, as I said to Christian Matheson, Baroness Harding has been asked to bring forward detailed plans for the cancer workforce in her implementation plan.

Photo of Paula Sherriff Paula Sherriff Shadow Minister (Mental Health and Social Care), Shadow Minister (Mental Health)

Mental health nurse numbers have fallen for the second month running, and learning disability nurse numbers have fallen by 40% since this Government came to power. Nearly 13,000 mental health staff left their roles between May and October 2018, and the vacancy rate is now almost 10%. The King’s Fund, the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation say that

“Urgent action is now required to avoid a vicious cycle of growing shortages and declining quality.”

Is it not time for Ministers to start taking such advice, rather than giving it?

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The Department of course takes such things seriously. My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Care met Baroness Harding last week to discuss how to ensure that there are nurses and carers to help people with learning disabilities. The money that has been promised to make that possible comes in the new financial year, which starts next week.