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Medical And Dental Education

Volume 174: debated on Monday 18 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the second report of the steering group on undergraduate medical and dental education will be published; and if he will make a statement.

The report is published today, and is available in the Library. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science and I are sending copies of the second report to all interested parties under cover of a message which reads as follows:

The report from the Steering Group on Undergraduate Medical and Dental Education has been prepared in response to the remit which our predecessors gave the Group to consider how the current arrangements for undergraduate medical (and subsequently dental) education can be improved to ensure that the policies and programmes of the bodies concerned are properly co-ordinated and directed. The Group was later invited to assess the implications for these matters of the proposed NHS reforms, and to make recommendations. The present report subsumes the Interim Report which was published in June 1989.
We welcome, and endorse, this new report. We are grateful to the members of the Steering Group, and to the organisations which have been associated with it, for working effectively together to support the common purpose of the NHS and the universities in maintaining and improving standards of undergraduate medical and dental education.
The organisational and financial arrangements must encourage those responsible in both the universities and the NHS to work together to teach students, advance knowledge through research and provide and develop services for patients. These three functions are integral, something as true in the reformed NHS as it is today. That is why the Steering Group has emphasised the essential common purpose of the universities and the NHS in the fostering of medical knowledge and skills, an emphasis which we support. The ten key principles proposed by the Steering Group to underpin jointly agreed working arrangements have already been promulgated with our endorsement. The sense of common purpose will be strengthened by the new provision in the NHS and Community Care Bill regarding university membership of those health authorities and NHS Trusts having significant involvement in medical and dental education.
The Steering Group has given close attention to certain details of finance and management. It has proposed revised procedures for the distribution of the Service Increment For Teaching (SIFT) which again have been promulgated, and are being implemented, with our support. It has made proposals for handling the relationship known as "knock for knock", emphasising the importance of changing only by agreement the balance of expenditure between co-operating institutions. It has also suggested that the flexibility essential to the management of the job plans of clinical academics who are honorary consultants in the NHS might be achieved through a tightly defined package of clinical service commitments, to be delivered by university staff under the management of heads of clinical academic departments in consultation with NHS managers. We endorse these proposals, which encourage an agreed approach to the management of those areas in which the universities and the NHS must engage together in responsibilities which neither can discharge alone.