It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr McCabe. I thank my hon. Friend Mr Cunningham for securing this important debate, which I am glad to have the opportunity to speak in. For many years, it was my privilege to work with many healthcare professionals, so I take a keen interest in this subject. I was happy to add my signature to the letter to the HCPC to oppose the, at the time, 18% proposed increase in fees.
It is right that healthcare professions should be regulated and that those bodies should be independent of the Government, which means that fees must be attached to the registration. Having set fees, however, those bodies must have a view to the people and the professions that they regulate. Many people covered by the Health and Care Professions Council are not big earners, despite playing an incredibly important part in our healthcare system, and they are often missed out when we talk about healthcare workers.
We talk about doctors and nurses, but we rarely talk about all the other NHS staff who are integral to our healthcare system. I have worked with paramedics, occupational therapists, dieticians and many others, who are an important part of that healthcare team. In the last 18 months, I have had personal experience in my family of the great work they do—on stroke rehabilitation, for example. It is important work, but the pay is not great. Typically, people are paid at band 5, which starts at £23,000 a year, so we are not talking big bucks.