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NHS: Higher Education

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 25 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health by what means he monitors NHS contracts with higher education institutions for initial training and professional development services for NHS personnel with reference to the (a) quality of delivery and (b) appropriateness of funding in relation to the costs of these services. (160098)

Monitoring of national health service contracts with higher education institutions for initial training and professional development services for NHS personnel with reference to the quality of delivery and appropriateness of funding in relation to the costs of these services are the responsibility of the strategic health authorities (SHAs). Contracts include a quality framework setting out requirements on higher education institutions to ensure training and professional development are of high quality. SHAs are in the process of applying standard benchmark prices to their pre-registration contracts where these have been agreed nationally.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions his Department has held with representatives of higher education institutions on workforce planning involving initial professional qualification and continuing professional development for NHS staff; and if he will make a statement. (160099)

The commissioning of training of doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals is carried out as a partnership between the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), higher education institutions and the Department. Training for nursing, midwifery and allied health professions is funded on a contract basis by strategic health authorities and is delivered by a range of universities and colleges.

The required numbers of doctors and dentists entering training are set having considered for the future workforce requirements of the national health service.

For dentists, this has resulted in an expansion of dental school places from 670 to 840, and the opening of two new medical schools in Plymouth and Preston from this autumn.

For doctors, following a rapid expansion in medical student intake from 3,749 in 1997-98 to 6,194 in 2006-07, a decision was taken in July 2006 that no further expansion of medical school places was required. Medical student numbers will be kept under review taking account of the changing demographics of the workforce and the workforce requirements of the NHS.

It is the responsibility of employing NHS trusts to ensure that their staff are up to date and fit to practise. They should ensure that continuing professional development needs identified through regular appraisal are supported.