Students do have responsibility, but the registered health professional is responsible for ensuring that they are safe under their practice while they are training in their profession. Training the future workforce is an incredibly important additional function of health professionals.
The Law Commission came forward with a set of recommendations for registrant bodies in 2012. In 2019, we still have not seen the implementation of those recommendations in full. I would like the Minister to explain why that is the case. Implementing a substantial piece of work about ensuring patient safety should surely be at the forefront of the Minister’s agenda. I am interested to hear the reasons for the delay, and what plans there are to put those recommendations in place. Training programmes for health professionals need to focus on the ethics, behaviour and conduct of health professionals, if we want to see a reduction in the number of cases. Managing that risk is really important.
I want to raise a number of points to move this case forward. First, as we have heard, 38,000 people signed a petition to register their discontent with the fee rise. That cannot be ignored. These are valuable NHS workers. Their call must be heard and reflected on. However, the HCPC hardly seems to have taken that into consideration. As my hon. Friend Liz McInnes said, the number of fitness-to-practise cases being taken forward—currently, 59% of them involve social workers—will disappear. Therefore, surely the registrant body’s costs will decrease. We want to hear how that will benefit health professionals.
This is a tax on professionals. Will the Minister consider funding that regulation fee through the NHS? It does not make sense for nurses, physios and speech therapists, for example, to pay a different amount. That is a tax on professionals who have put in the training and the hours, and go over and above the hours. Why can the Government not pay the amount for each health professional? More than a gesture, it is a responsibility of the NHS to ensure that its registrants, including part-time workers, have that support. I completely concur with the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton that there should be a part-time rate.