I am grateful for the opportunity to address new clauses 27 and 28 together. First, new clause 27 seeks to place a specific duty on the Secretary of State to support the transformation of the health and social care workforce for integrated care systems by working with universities and colleges to train the future workforce through investment in technological and inter-professional innovation.
I take on board the broader points made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood, but we do not believe that the new clause is necessary, as that work is already covered by section 1F of the NHS Act 2006, which the new clause seeks to amend. Section 1F(1) sets out that the Secretary of State has a duty
“to secure that there is an effective system for the planning and delivery of education and training to persons who are employed, or who are considering becoming employed, in…the health service”.
Discharge of the duty under section 1F(1) is largely delegated to Health Education England through section 97 of the Care Act 2014. To meet its statutory duties and to ensure that an effective education and training system is in place, HEE undertakes a variety of work, including with further and higher education providers and regulators. Part of that work includes the curriculums for the healthcare professions. Those curriculums are set by approved education providers at an institutional level. HEE can influence the content by representing the employer voice to ensure that the training that individuals receive is relevant and remains up to date.
As part of that work, HEE is particularly keen to ensure that technological and medical advances are included in teaching, alongside new ways of working. Those measures would support newly qualified professionals to be suitably prepared to launch their careers in the NHS. To support that work and engagement with universities, HEE commissioned the Topol review, published in February 2019—probably in association with my right hon. Friend in one of his previous ministerial roles—on how to prepare the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future.
That review made recommendations that will enable NHS staff to make the most of innovative technologies such as genomics, digital medicines, artificial intelligence and robotics to improve services. The recommendations support the aims of the NHS long-term plan and the workforce implementation plan, helping to ensure a sustainable NHS. The progress report was published by HEE in 2020 and, as part of the implementation report, HEE has launched a digital readiness programme to continue to lead on developments in preparing the workforce to deliver the digital future.
On inter-professional working, we want a workforce that is less siloed and more flexible and adaptable, and work is ongoing to take that forward in England. For example, at the national level, we are looking at new skill mixes to meet new service models. Those new mixes could include upskilling existing staff, so that more staff are able to do things that have traditionally been limited to a smaller group of professionals—for example, prescribing—or making better use of the wide range of skills and contacts available to reduce duplication.
At ICS level, national guidance on the ICS people function also set out the expectation that the ICB, working with the ICP, will have responsibility for enabling workforce transformation across the health and care system, including through the use of technology and innovation, as well as for work with educational institutions to develop the local future workforce. Nationally, arm’s length bodies will support and enable ICBs to deliver those responsibilities at a local level. I hope that that highlights some of the work being done under the existing statutory duty in section 1F of the 2006 Act.
Secondly, new clause 28 seeks to place three new statutory duties on the Secretary of State. That, in a sense, is at the heart of what my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood was getting at. They are: a duty to ensure a sufficient number of clinical placements for the number of students; a duty to ensure innovation—his new clause outlines greater interdisciplinary working, digital technology and simulation as three examples—is supported and funded in the education and training system; and a duty to consult universities and others on clinical placement availability.
We have carefully considered my right hon. Friend’s new clause, but we do not feel that those additional specific statutory duties are necessary, in addition to the existing statutory duty on the Secretary of State in section 1F of the 2006 Act, which my right hon. Friend seeks to amend. Section 1F sets out that the Secretary of State has a duty to ensure that there is an effective system for the planning and delivery of education and training to persons who are employed, or who are considering becoming employed, in the health service. Discharging the duty under 1F(1) is largely delegated to HEE through section 97 of the Care Act 2014.
As the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire said, clinical placements are a vital part of healthcare students’ education and training. Good experience during a placement can lead a student to seek employment at their placement provider. As a result, ensuring that there is sufficient placement capacity remains a priority for HEE in order to meet its statutory duties and ensure that an effective education and training system is in place.