Committee (1st Day) (Continued)
8: Schedule 5, page 107, line 22, at end insert—
“( ) HEE must exercise its functions consistent with the promotion of a comprehensive health service, giving equal consideration to the importance of physical and mental health.”
My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendment 10. These two amendments seek to make sure that Clause 84 and Schedule 5 specify the responsibility of Health Education England to ensure, throughout its work, the promotion of a comprehensive health service which gives equal consideration to the importance of physical and mental health and the health of people with learning difficulties. This parity of esteem, putting mental health on a par with physical health, must be a key principle carried through HEE’s work and in the education and training of healthcare workers, and it is important that the Bill specifies this. Why is that? It is because the lack of parity continues to have a massive impact. The most recent psychiatric morbidity surveys show that, despite theoretical parity under existing legislation, only a minority of those with a mental disorder in England receive any intervention, in stark contrast to other disease areas, such as cancer, almost all of which have some intervention.
Labour is proud that it introduced the NHS constitution and is pleased that it now has widespread support. However, we acknowledge that it did not go far enough in ensuring that parity of esteem was entrenched into the constitution. This is especially important as the growing number of NHS bodies and organisations established under the Government’s NHS reforms are all required to take the constitution into account in all they do.
Noble Lords will recall that parity of esteem was a hard-fought-for, last-minute inclusion in the Health and Social Care Act. It is vital because it is important to do everything that we can to ensure that this key NHS objective is taken seriously and is underlined at every stage. We welcome the steps in the HEE mandate recognising HEE’s leadership role in this, including a focus on the mental health workforce to ensure that there are sufficient psychiatrists and other clinicians and specialist staff working to build the values and skills to facilitate continuous service improvement, developing training programmes which ensure that all staff have awareness of mental health problems and how they may affect their patients, and ensuring that the mental health needs of people with long-term health conditions are addressed concurrently and not as an afterthought.
We particularly welcome HEE’s leadership role in providing, through LETBs, training programmes to support staff in diagnosing the early symptoms of dementia so that they are aware of the needs of patients, carers and families. Building skills among GPs is especially important in this respect, as we know that patients often go undiagnosed for years. The target for Health Education England of 100,000 staff undertaking dementia foundation-level training by 2014 is a challenging one but it must be achieved if the current appalling level of undiagnosed cases is to be reduced. While focus on dementia is welcome, we must also ensure that other debilitating mental illnesses are addressed with equal vigour.
The lack of parity of esteem for mental health under the current system is widely recognised and acknowledged. The website of the mental health charity, Mind, sums this up well in reporting on the experiences of people with mental health problems. As it says:
“One person told us they get immediate attention for slightly high blood pressure, but face indifference and long waits about their mental health needs unless they are suicidal. Others have told us that they experience far better treatment in A&E for physical symptoms than when they need emergency help in a mental health crisis or for self-harm injuries. This is not acceptable—an emergency is an emergency”.
My noble friend Lord Patel of Bradford reminded us during the debate on the Queen’s Speech that only 13% of NHS funds are devoted to the treatment of mental health issues. Against this backdrop we strongly welcome the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ report, Whole-person Care: From Rhetoric to Reality, commissioned by the Department of Health and the NHS Commissioning Board last year. It sets out how progress on achieving parity of esteem can be made by,
“changes in attitudes, knowledge, professional training, and practice”,
and makes key recommendations to apply across the NHS on equivalent levels of access and waiting times for mental health services, specifically in emergency and crisis mental healthcare.
The RCP report has a number of recommendations relevant to HEE’s remit and role. These include how HEE should as a priority support the development of core skills and competences in health and public health professionals; the need for the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council to review medical and nursing study and training to give greater emphasis to mental health; and integrating mental and physical health within undergraduate medical training. I would welcome the Minister updating the House on what action the Government plan to take on this important report, the timescale for the Government’s response, and how any of the report’s recommendations will be fed into the Bill.
Whole-person care is Labour’s agenda for the future. It would bring together physical health, mental health and social care into a single service to meet all of a person’s health needs. Ed Miliband, in announcing Labour’s commission on whole-person care, emphasised that:
“In the 21st century, the challenge is to organise services around the needs of patients, rather than patients around the needs of services. That means teams of doctors, nurses, social workers and therapists all working together”.
In his landmark speech on mental health last year at the Royal College of Psychiatrists seminar, he acknowledged mental health as the biggest,
“unaddressed challenge of our age”.
He went on to say:
“We have to confront the unspoken discriminations too. Like the vast inequalities in funding for research. Like the lack of training in mental health of many NHS staff – whether in GP surgeries, outpatient clinics or A&E. Eight out of ten primary care professionals say they need more training in mental health than they have”.
Amendment 12 underlines the importance of HEE working,
“with persons who provide health services to ensure an adequate provision of continuing professional development for health care workers”.
That is particularly important in view of the recent findings in a member survey by the Royal College of Nursing, which pointed to a worrying decline in CPD training. The noble Lord, Lord Patel, has an amendment on CPD under the provisions for LETBs, so we will pick up this issue then.
As we progress through the Bill, we will argue strongly for parity of esteem between mental health and physical health to be underlined and specified in the Bill as a guiding principle. When the RCP report on whole-person care was published in March, its president, Professor Sue Bailey, called on government policy-makers, service commissioners and providers and the public to think in terms of the whole person, both body and mind, and to apply a parity test to all their activities and to their attitudes. For Health Education England, this parity test for the planning, education and training of healthcare workers is crucial. Our amendments give force to the HEE mandate provisions on parity of esteem, and we hope they will be accepted by the Government.
My Lords, I support Amendment 10, but I should like to clarify one or two points in the wording. It is possible for a person with a learning disability to have a physical health problem. It is also possible for a person with a learning disability to have a mental health problem. But that is not the main cause or even sometimes the basic cause for their particular condition, which is learning disability. I would therefore have preferred the wording of paragraph (a) of Amendment 10 to have been “learning disability”. The same situation arises in paragraph (b) of Amendment 10. People with a learning disability have a learning difficulty. That is natural. However, there are plenty of people who are not learning disabled who also have a learning difficulty. I would like to have seen Amendment 10 include learning difficulties and learning disabilities, but I actually support the general thrust of the amendment. I hope that if it is accepted the wording of a learning disability can be made quite clear.
My Lords, I support Amendment 12 in particular. It will be no surprise to the Minister that my interest, even my passion, lies in the status of healthcare workers, which is hugely important. We are recognising that even more by the way in which the continuing change in the health service is coming about.
I wish to pick up on the way the Bill reads in the context of the amendment. The clause refers to, obviously, education and training for healthcare workers. It then refers to,
“the provision of information and advice on careers in the health service”,
but to know where your career is going you have to have a start point. The Minister knows that many of us have been asking for, in the first instance, a recognition of the skills that healthcare workers bring to the job. Across any organisation that has opportunities for development, there is always a start point. A healthcare worker would need to know, for instance, what skills they have and what skills they need to go on to the next stage of whatever career they choose. The ambiguity, at best—actually, it is probably even worse than ambiguity—under which healthcare workers currently operate does not help that process. It will be difficult for the Bill to achieve its objectives if we do not start from the point where healthcare workers have that recognition of their skills in a formal way.
My Lords, I support this group of amendments, particularly Amendments 8 and 12.
We had a good run over the issue of the equivalence between physical and mental health in the Health and Social Care Act. We need to move on from this rather semantic debate about whether healthcare involves both physical and mental health. Out there in the real world, there is a real sense and feeling that mental health does not receive its fair share of the attention that it needs. The political and public agenda in this area is beginning to change, which is a good thing, but we should not lose any opportunity, when legislation presents itself, to reinforce the message about equivalence, even if it occasionally upsets the draftsmen and officials of legislation. We cannot use opportunities too often to get across the message about equivalence.
One of my jobs as a Minister in Richmond House was, at one point, to try to reduce the amount of money and effort that was being spent in the NHS on the use of agency staff. It came as a considerable surprise to me, although it should not have done, that when I started to look into this area, particularly in the area of medical locums, psychiatry was represented as one of the specialities where there was a high use of locums because people simply could not get or make permanent appointments. We need to send a message to HEE that there is a longstanding, deep-rooted problem in this area. At the end of the day, if we do not train enough people to fill the established jobs available and we have to rely on locums and agency staff to do so, we will not achieve equivalence.
When the Minister goes back to Richmond House, I ask him to look at some of the data around whether the vacancy rates and the use of locums in psychiatry and psychiatric services is greater than those in other areas. He may find that there are some real issues around that which need to be tackled by HEE.
On Amendment 12, I wish to speak briefly as a former jobbing public sector manager in this area. When times are hard you do two things very quickly: you freeze vacancies and cut in-service training. That is what you do as a jobbing public sector manager. We always have to guard against cutting the kind of programmes, such as continuing professional development, that will help us to get out of some of the jams that we are often in. It is important to send messages about continuing professional development in the Bill. I strongly support the proposals in Amendment 12.
My Lords, I support Amendment 12 in particular. I declare an interest as an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Nursing.
When I was preparing the Commission on Nursing Education report, although we were looking at pre-registration, one of the key elements that came up time and again was that nurses were leaving their training and going into settings, within NHS tertiary care settings, primary care settings and, in particular, community settings and domiciliary settings, where the notion of continuing professional development was non-existent. People were finding an immediate barrier to even asking questions about doing things in a better way. The way you overcome that is by doing exactly what it says in this amendment. You put at the very heart of your organisation the fact that you continue to develop. Even preceptorship, the year after training, was given scant regard in many places because the nurses were so busy doing their day-to-day tasks that there was not time for management to put it in. My argument is that without putting in that training, you are less efficient, you give poorer care and ultimately the whole organisation suffers. I hope that my honourable friend will take on board this crucial business about ensuring that Health Education England is not just about training at the base level, but is about continuing to train people throughout the whole of their professional lives.
My Lords, I will add to what the noble Lord, Lord Willis, said. A lot of work is being done on the appraisal system, but without the appraisal system leading into continuing professional development, professional development becomes ad hoc. A lot of work is being done by the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege on appraisal, and I believe that some work is being done by the department as well. If we could link this work with continuing professional development, I think that that would be very helpful.
My Lords, the health service is dependent on having the right numbers of staff, with the right skills and behaviours. Quite rightly, patients expect the people who deliver health services to be well supported and to have the right professional and clinical skills. To achieve this, we need a system that can attract people with the right values, give them the right career advice, support the development of excellent professional and clinical skills, emphasise the centrality of providing care with compassion, kindness and respect, and ensure a workforce that is responsive to changing needs and innovations in services. That, in a nutshell, is why we have established Health Education England and the local education and training boards.
Health Education England is already established as a special health authority and is already working to put in place requirements similar to those placed on it in this legislation. Establishing Health Education England as a non-departmental public body will ensure that it has the independence and impartiality that it requires to plan, commission and quality-assure education and training for the long term. As an NDPB, it will be accountable to the Secretary of State and Parliament for ensuring that there is an effective education and training system in place. The establishment of Health Education England has been welcomed, I am glad to say, by stakeholders across the health and education system. It has the support of the Health Select Committee and the Joint Committee that scrutinised the draft Bill. It is viewed as an important step forward in promoting the development of the healthcare workforce and driving up standards.
Amendments 8 and 10 seek to ensure that Health Education England gives equal consideration to physical and mental health in the delivery of its education and training functions. I have no quarrel with noble Lords bringing us back to that familiar theme, but primary legislation is not required for Health Education England to give equal consideration to the importance of physical and mental health.
To start with what I hope is an obvious point, in establishing Health Education England, the Government are making clear their commitment to the development of the entire health and public health workforce. One of the significant weaknesses of previous workforce planning and education commissioning arrangements has been the fragmented approach, with responsibilities scattered across different bodies and silo approaches taken to considering the development needs of different professions and services. Health Education England will be different. It will be responsible for the planning and development of the whole workforce, whether in primary care, secondary care, public health or mental health. Although it will retain a strong focus on the development of different professions, it will do so with a multiprofessional remit and perspective that promotes multidisciplinary education and training where appropriate.
I would like to take the Committee back to the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which places a clear duty on the Secretary of State to ensure an effective education and training system for,
“persons who are employed, or who are considering becoming employed, in an activity which involves or is connected with the provision of services as part of the health service in England”—
which is a very wide scope. That duty is very important. It reflects the importance of education and training in the NHS and public health system, and is a key duty underpinning the Secretary of State’s duty to ensure,
“a comprehensive health service designed to secure improvement … in … physical and mental health”.
The Bill delegates the Secretary of State’s education and training duty to Health Education England, giving it a clear and unambiguous remit for workforce planning, education, training and development across England. I hope that that conveys to the Committee the direct legal linkage between this Bill and the 2012 Act in respect of the parity of esteem issue.
Clause 88 requires Health Education England to have regard to the Government’s mandate to NHS England. It is appropriate that the education and training objectives are aligned to service commissioning objectives in this way. It is especially relevant in the context of this amendment because the NHS England mandate requires mental and physical health conditions to be treated “with equal priority” and to,
“close the health gap between people with mental health problems and the population as a whole”.
The Government’s mandate to the Health Education England Special Health Authority reflects this and requires Health Education England,
“to focus on the mental health workforce”.
I listened with care, as I always do, to the noble Lord, Lord Rix. I simply say to him that Health Education England can support better education, training and development for staff so that they can better support people with learning disabilities and difficulties. The core components of education and training for all staff should be to treat people with kindness and compassion and communicate well with all patients and carers. That, I hope, goes without saying, but it is particularly relevant to those with learning difficulties and disabilities. In saying that, of course I recognise that there are certain specialist skills that people in that field require.
Amendment 12 relates to continuing professional development. I absolutely recognise that the continuing professional development of healthcare workers is important. This is enshrined in the NHS constitution, which places a commitment on all employers that supply NHS-funded services to invest in this area and provide their staff with the support and personal development that they need, as well as access to appropriate training to enable them to fulfil their duties.
Health Education England will play a crucial role in providing leadership in this area. The mandate that the Government published only recently for the Health Education England special health authority sends out a clear message that the staff working in our NHS and public health system are the health service’s most precious resource. We must do all we can to ensure that staff have the right values, training and skills to deliver the very highest quality of care for patients. To support the development of the existing NHS and public health workforce, the mandate sets out that Health Education England will work with Local Education and Training Boards and healthcare providers to ensure professional and personal development continues beyond the end of formal training to enable staff to deliver safe and high quality health and public health services, now and in the future. This will include supporting those staff who may wish to return to training.
I hope that those remarks are helpful to the noble Baroness. To cover a number of questions that were put to me, the noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler, asked about the Royal College of Psychiatrists report. We very much welcome the report. The Minister for Health and Care Services will be attending the report’s launch on 19 June and will be setting out what the Government will do to respond to the challenge that the Royal College has articulated.
The noble Lord, Lord Warner, asked what Health Education England will do to address the issue of reliance on locums and agency staff, a very pertinent question. Health Education England can make a significant contribution in this area. Better workforce planning, linked to service and financial planning, is a key aim of the new system that should ensure less reliance on locum and agency staff.
The noble Baroness, Lady Wall, asked me what Health Education England was doing to support career development for healthcare assistants. The capability of care assistants, and public confidence in that group of workers, is of increasing importance. Health Education England will work with employers to improve the capability of the care assistant workforce, including those in the care sector, as well as the standards of training that they receive. Health Education England will develop a strategy and an implementation plan to achieve that, building on the Cavendish review, which will be published quite soon, and on work by Skills for Health and Skills for Care on minimum training standards. The strategy should cover job roles, recruitment, induction, training standards and transparency, as well as identifying opportunities for career progression. I hope that those comments are helpful to the noble Baroness.
I thank the Minister for his thorough response and for his reassurances on the Government’s intentions in respect of parity of esteem. The debate as to whether parity of esteem is inferred or assumed in legislation, or should be specifically included, will continue. We will be strongly supporting this issue as we move through the Bill, with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Rix, on the need to ensure the inclusion of people with learning difficulties. I am disappointed that the Minister is resisting this issue of inclusion. It would underline the importance of parity of esteem as a guiding principle, ensure consistency with the Health and Social Care Act and reinforce the HEE mandate role in this respect.
Amendment 12 received strong support from my noble friend Lord Warner, the noble Lord, Lord Willis, and the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton. I welcome that. My noble friend was right to underline the particular importance of CPD in the light of the current challenges facing the service. I look forward to the fuller debate later on in the Bill on this. With that, I beg leave to withdraw.
Amendment 8 withdrawn.
9: Schedule 5, page 107, line 33, at end insert—
“( ) HEE should seek the advice of those bodies concerned with setting standards for education and training, including the regulatory bodies and Royal Colleges.”
My Lords, my name is attached to three amendments in this group, Amendments 9, 18 and 34. In this group of amendments I have tried to go a little further with my general theme of improving quality and standards.
Amendment 9 refers to the functions of Health Education England in Schedule 5, under which it will seek advice from relevant bodies. Amendment 18 refers to quality, improvement in education and training and the need for HEE to co-operate with relevant bodies. Amendment 34 refers specifically to those from whom HEE should seek advice. In each of those amendments, I am anxious that due weight is given to advice and co-operation with those whose sole reason for existence is to ensure high standards of education and training—the General Medical Council, the General Dental Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the royal colleges. Those colleges, after all, set the curricula for all medical and nursing trainees and arrange all the exams and assessments.
For Health Education England not to have access to all that expertise, and potentially even to ignore it, seems to me unhelpful. Some indication about that is needed in the Bill. Therefore, I have included specific mention of those bodies here.
I speak to Amendments 15 and 36 in my name and those of the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, and the noble Lord, Lord Patel. On Amendment 15, one of the most daunting tasks for Sir Keith Pearson and his staff at Health Education England is the challenge of workforce planning. I do not believe that anybody has done that right in the health service since its creation. The noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, rightly pointed out that it takes a good five years to get a junior doctor. It takes 10 years to get a consultant. For senior consultants, we are probably talking about 12 to 15 years. For anyone to sit down in Richmond House or elsewhere and start to plan what is going to happen in 10 to 15 years is an incredibly difficult task, and no one has managed it yet.
Secondly, looking ahead, if 10 or 15 years ago you were planning a workforce, you would have automatically said that we need a supply of certain groups of professionals and that, provided we can get that supply, we will be reasonably okay. We can bring in a few from abroad, usually the Commonwealth, and often denude the poorest countries in Africa of their health staff and get the nurses from the Philippines. That enabled us to get by.
What we are doing now—I think that the Minister is acutely aware of this— is planning for a health and care service the like of which we have never seen. There will be research developments, especially in areas such as genomics and regenerative medicine, which will create cures for major debilitating diseases and, at the same time, give us innovative ways of dealing with people’s long-term chronic illness in their homes by self-management. Therefore, the professionals and the care support workers for those professionals working within the NHS have to be of a calibre and to have a flexibility the like of which we have never seen.
We have tabled Amendment 15 because HEE needs all the support that it can get in obtaining representation to support it to look ahead. By that, I am talking about the research base. We have to consider what medicine will look like, what cures will look like and what the demographic requirements will be in 10 or 15 years’ time—or even in five years—to plan the workforce. I hope that in reply, the Minister can reassure the House that there is that sort of long-term planning for a workforce not like today’s. We are not planning the workforce of yesterday with different numbers, we are looking at a totally different workforce for the future.
Amendment 36 is a probing amendment to gain assurances from the Minister that HEE will receive representations from organisations other than the medical royal colleges. The Explanatory Notes to the Bill specify only medical royal colleges in paragraph 515. We therefore ask that that be updated to reflect all royal colleges.
In the Francis report, one of the criticisms of the Royal College of Nursing—I refer to it specifically—was that there was a conflict between its role as a trade union and its role as a royal college. The Government and Health Education England have an opportunity to challenge it on that role and to make sure that it steps up to the mark as a royal college. Only by doing that will it actually serve the nursing workforce to its true extent. We have seen that with the medical royal colleges, and, by including royal colleges in this particular amendment, which would include the Royal College of Nursing, we are sending out a challenge to the RCN that it, too, must be part of this game rather than a bystander.
My Lords, I, too, support Amendment 36. I just want to pick out something that the noble Earl mentioned a little while ago in response to another question from me. He mentioned the work being done by Skills for Health and Skills for Care. Certainly in the context of this amendment—which, I agree, is a probing amendment—alongside the royal colleges and the other professional bodies, the work that Skills for Health and Skills for Care are doing is hugely important. Can the noble Earl enlighten me on what relationship Health Education England will have with those bodies? For instance, the noble Lord just referred to what the future looks like and what Skills for Health in particular is doing alongside Skills for Care. It is looking at what provisions there are for apprenticeships inside the health service, which is hugely important and allows people to develop from smaller roles to bigger roles over time. I wonder how, in the scheme of things, that relationship exists, how close it is and what influence Skills for Health and Skills for Care have, so that they are not working in opposition but are working integrally with what HEE is doing.
My Lords, I have a few amendments in this group. It is an important group because it concerns not just the functions of Health Education England and its duties to co-operate but also, of course, the membership of LETBs, the local committees of HEE.
It is very important that HEE works with NHS bodies that have expertise in education, training and regulation, so I am very happy to support my noble friend’s Amendments 9, 18 and 34, and Amendments 15 and 36 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Willis. I would add two organisations from which HEE must seek representations: the CQC and Monitor. I imagine the noble Earl will say that they are implicit in the generic list of bodies in Clause 89(2). However, it would be good to hear a little bit about how the noble Earl expects HEE to work with the two core regulators for the health service, the CQC and Monitor. In a sense, the CQC will, on a very regular basis, be picking up issues to do with staffing and staffing levels. Equally, Monitor will be concerned with financial issues. Of course, the two sometimes do not run easily together, so it is very important that HEE has very close contact with those two bodies.
As regards Clause 91 and LETBs, which are essentially committees of HEE charged with ensuring sufficient skilled healthcare workers in the area of the LETB, the Bill makes clear that in carrying out its main functions, the LETB must represent the interests of all persons,
“who provide health services in the area for which the LETB is appointed”.
I have already referred to my interest as chair of a foundation trust, and I very much welcome the architecture in which it is clear that, at the local level, the people in the driving seat should be the people who provide services. In the past, people running hospitals and other services have been divorced from decisions about training commissions. That is one of the reasons why I believe there has been such a problem with the ability of people coming out of universities and other education institutions to practise when they get into the field. Having the people who provide services round the table is a very important development.
Of course, it is also important that other people are involved in those discussions. In the architecture of the Bill, there are two categories of membership provisions. In Clause 91(3)(a) and (3)(b), it is clear that LETBs must include,
“persons who provide health services in the area”,
“persons who have clinical expertise”.
It is consistent with the provisions in relation to Health Education England. Then in Clause 91(5), people involved in education may be appointed to a LETB—but, by implication, if they may be they do not have to be. My Amendments 40 and 42 to 46 really seek to ensure that LETBs have a broad-based membership. Surely, it should be mandatory to have the involvement of education providers and health workers who are not professionally registered. My noble friend Lady Wall made that point very well indeed.
Also, where are the representatives of patients and carers? After all, they understand the output of the workforce. Surely, they ought to have a place around the table as well when it comes to these decisions about training commissions: where they are placed, what the demands are and what the monitoring is. Again, I would replicate the argument about nurses that we had on the membership of HEE. In some sense, we could have grouped those amendments together because it is the same argument: that around the table of the LETB, you must have some senior nurses when so many of the discussions of the LETB will be about the quality of nurse training.
What about the health and well-being board? We have heard earlier debates. In fact, in the House of Commons Select Committee this morning, when witnesses were giving presentations about what has happened in emergency care, the representative of the LGA made a very strong point about the potential role of health and well-being boards, which are concerned not just with public health but with how well the whole system is integrated. I very much agree with that, so I would have thought that a LETB would be well advised to have the chairmen of relevant health and well-being boards around the table to discuss issues of staffing. I hope that the noble Earl will give me some reassurance that in establishing LETBs as provider organisations, something with which I certainly agree, there will be room for these other interests to be represented as well.
My Lords, Amendments 9, 18 and 34 seek to require Health Education England to seek the advice of regulatory bodies and royal colleges in the exercise of its functions. Similarly, Amendment 36 seeks to amend Clause 89(3) to require Health Education England to seek advice from all the medical royal colleges. Amendment 15 seeks to amend Clause 85 to require HEE to seek representations from relevant organisations to define sufficient workforce numbers and the appropriate skills mix when carrying out its duty.
The education and training landscape is multifaceted. Many organisations have an interest in the development of health professionals, ranging from local employers in the NHS through to national organisations such as the professional regulators, including the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and professional bodies such as the medical royal colleges and those supporting other professions. To carry out its role effectively, Health Education England and the local education and training boards need to tap into all this knowledge and expertise. These bodies have crucial responsibilities in setting professional standards, shaping curricula and driving forward improvements in the quality of education and training. Health Education England simply has to work closely with them to deliver its functions.
The medical royal colleges in particular play an essential role in supporting the development of the medical profession, shaping curricula and the development of training programmes, supervising training, examining trainees to ensure the highest professional standards, promoting and supporting research, supporting audit and evaluation of clinical effectiveness, and generally providing support and advice for doctors at all stages of their careers. So I can reassure the Committee that Health Education England is already required to work with the professional regulators and medical royal colleges to obtain their advice on the exercise of its functions.
Clause 89 requires Health Education England to obtain advice on the exercise of its functions. Clause 89(2) requires HEE to seek to ensure that it receives representations from bodies which regulate healthcare workers and persons who provide, or contribute to the provision of, education and training for healthcare workers. This includes universities, professional bodies and the medical royal colleges.
The noble Lord will be pleased to hear that Health Education England is already working with the professional regulators and medical royal colleges. When he gave evidence to the Joint Committee that scrutinised the draft Bill, Professor Ian Cumming, the Chief Executive of HEE, was very clear that he saw the professional regulators and royal colleges as partners in developing the next generation of staff. Professor Peter Rubin, the chair of the GMC, gave evidence in the same session and reinforced that view, reassuring the committee that the GMC has a very good working relationship with Health Education England.
HEE is not starting from scratch in building these relationships. It is building on the good work previously done by Medical Education England and others to strengthen engagement and partnership-working with the professions. As I mentioned earlier, the HEE special health authority has established profession-specific advisory groups, involving employers and key partners including national regulatory and professional bodies. These will look at profession-specific workforce development across medicine, dentistry, nursing and midwifery, the allied health professions, pharmacy and healthcare science. They will each have a patient representative and be co-chaired by Health Education England and the professional lead in the relevant field.
In addition to having profession-specific advisory groups, Health Education England is establishing a multi-professional advisory group to bring all professions together to look at cross cutting issues. I hope that is a positive piece of information for the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, in particular. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, will be pleased that it is also setting up a patient forum to ensure patients and service users can engage in education and training and inform work in that area.
Certainly, I do. I am happy to take that idea away, and if I can give him any further information during the course of our debates I will. Equally, the LETBs have strongly established connections with professional regulators and professional bodies. For example, the postgraduate medical and dental deans, who are now an integral part of the LETBs, work very closely with the GMC and medical royal colleges in the management and quality assurance of training for junior doctors. I hope that those remarks will reassure noble Lords sufficiently for them not to press the relevant amendments.
In reply to my noble friend Lord Willis, who expressed concern about the way the Explanatory Notes were framed, it is important to look at the entire context of the passage he quoted. The words “such as” appear in that passage before “the medical Royal Colleges”, so it is not meant to denote an exclusive reference to the medical royal colleges; it is very much trying to say that the professional bodies in general will be relevant here.
Amendment 35, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and the noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler, seeks to amend Clause 89 to require HEE to seek advice from the Care Quality Commission and Monitor. It is very important that Health Education England works closely with those two bodies. The Care Quality Commission plays an important role in assessing the quality of healthcare services, and in so doing it assesses their ability to deliver services safely and effectively. In doing so, it will consider whether healthcare providers have suitably skilled staff and in the right numbers. It will need to work closely with Health Education England to share findings and evidence to support improvements in education and training. Health Education England will also be able to share information on the effectiveness of providers in supporting clinical placements and training programmes to support the Care Quality Commission in its role.
HEE and Monitor will work closely together to ensure the financial stability of the health system. This will include working together on the reform of education and training funding and the development of education and training tariffs. To reflect the importance of these relationships, the Bill places a clear and reciprocal duty on Health Education England to co-operate with both the Care Quality Commission and Monitor. I hope noble Lords will feel reassured by that and will be able to withdraw this amendment.
Is the Minister in a position to respond to my points? I understand the importance of the medical royal colleges and the professional bodies, but the noble Earl described earlier how Health Education England has responsibility for the whole workforce. I sought from him the opportunity to describe where Skills for Health and Skills for Care come in. I should point out that I have spoken three times and have not declared an interest as chair of Barnet and Chase Farm NHS Trust. I hope noble Lords will forgive me for that.
I am grateful to the noble Baroness. I have to go a little further, so if I may I will cover her point in a moment.
Amendments 40 and 42 to 46, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and the noble Baroness Lady Wheeler, focus on the need for expertise on the local education and training board. Specifically they seek to change Clause 91(3) to require a LETB also to have as members persons who deliver education and training to healthcare workers, a registered nurse, persons with experience in staff groups that are not professionally registered, healthcare workers who receive education and training from within the area, patients and carers or their representatives, and a representative of the local health and well-being board.
I fully expect Health Education England and the LETBs to work closely with and seek advice from a range of key stakeholders, including those providing education and training, members of staff, patients and carers. That requirement is clearly set out in Clause 89. I appreciate the position of noble Lords but do not agree that we need to specify all these groups in the governance structure.
In establishing the LETBs, the Government are committed to driving up standards and the quality of education and training provided. I suggest that that can happen only if those directly involved in the provision of education and training are at the heart of the new system. By their very nature, local education and training boards will be representative of local healthcare providers, who play a critical role in educating and training our workforce. They are the health professionals who support and supervise clinical placements and training programmes across the country, providing professional leadership and support to students and trainees.
If we mandate a requirement for a nurse, others will ask why there is no requirement for a doctor, a dentist, an allied health professional or any of the many other professions. I completely agree that these professions, and the bodies that represent, regulate and support them, need to be closely engaged in the work of the LETBs, but it is not practical to require all of them to be members of the board. The Bill makes provision in Clause 91 for those involved in the provision of education and training, such as universities, to be eligible to sit on an LETB. We know from the 13 LETBs established by the HEE special health authority that all of them have a university representative on their boards, and many different health professionals are also represented on them.
HEE will appoint independent chairs of the LETBs. These will be people who are not directly involved in the delivery of health services, or education and training, in the geographical area. Having an independent chair will ensure that the local education and training board acts independently and in the interests of all healthcare providers represented.
To be appointed in the first place, local education and training boards will need to demonstrate to HEE that they have the right governance arrangements and the right mix of people on their boards with the necessary capacity and capability. In going through that process it will be for HEE to assess whether the local education and training board has the right mix of skills, knowledge and expertise with which to carry out its functions. However, as the intention is for local decisions on education and training to be made by the LETBs, it is important that we give them the flexibility to determine who sits on their boards.
To sum up the position, I can reassure noble Lords that LETBs are already developing strong partnership arrangements in their patch to engage with all education institutions involved in education provision in their area. The HEE special health authority has reinforced the importance of this in the appointment criteria that it set the LETBs, which have to be approved by the Secretary of State. These demand that LETBs demonstrate meaningful engagement and collaboration with many stakeholders with an interest in education and training, including students and trainees, and patients and carers. As a result, they are putting in place appropriate advisory and partnership arrangements to support the decision-making of the local education and training board.
Perhaps I may interrupt the Minister and come back to the important point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Wall. In responding the Minister has yet again constantly referred to what I would call professional organisations. There are nearly 1 million healthcare support workers in the care and the health sectors. Many are untrained. Most are unregulated and unregistered. The two organisations that are providing basic skills, Skills for Health and Skills for Care, were dreamt up within the department. They did not widely consult before they put their forward their proposals for training programmes. The Nursing and Midwifery Council was never asked about the standards for Skills for Health. Will the Minister say who will be consulted about training the people who do so much of our basic social and healthcare—those who are called healthcare support workers?
I fully recognise the importance of the healthcare support worker sector. I can reassure my noble friend and the noble Baroness, Lady Wall, that Health Education England will be working closely with the sector skills councils, Skills for Health and Skills for Care. I note my noble friend’s scepticism about those bodies, but I do not share it. They have done a pretty fine piece of work and the fruits of it will be apparent over the coming months. HEE will need to do that if it is to perform its role as fully as it should to plan and shape the development of the entire workforce. If by some mischance it were to neglect that aspect of its work and not focus on improving training standards for the health and care support workforce, it would lead to a very unbalanced and unsatisfactory position. Therefore, we are very clear that this should be part of the remit of Health Education England. I hope that that is sufficient reassurance for noble Lords.
The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, asked about health and well-being boards being represented on LETBs. There is a clear commitment in Clause 93 for LETBs to consult health and well-being boards in the development of their plans.
My noble friend Lord Willis asked how Health Education England’s workforce planning will take into account new innovations. Workforce planning is a key focus for Health Education England. It is not about churning out the same old numbers but about working with service commissioners, service providers and other partners such as royal colleges to understand how the workforce needs to respond to service change. This means taking account of technological, pharmaceutical and other advances, and having a flexible workforce that is able to adapt to those innovations.
Amendment 9 withdrawn.
Schedule 5 agreed.
Clause 84 : Planning education and training for health care workers etc.
Amendment 10 not moved.
11: Clause 84, page 72, line 11, leave out “, with the consent of the Secretary of State,”
My Lords, we come to a series of clauses that deal with the functions and priorities of HEE. I have a number of amendments in this group. The first is Amendment 11. Clause 84(6) states:
“HEE may, with the consent of the Secretary of State, carry out other activities relating to … education and training for health care workers”.
I am curious to know why the Secretary of State has to give his consent. Does not the mandate in Clause 87 give the Secretary of State enough oversight, without the micromanagement that this part of Clause 84 seems to imply?
Amendment 12A relates to the duty of HEE to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of persons with skills and training. What does “sufficient” mean? Does it mean an equilibrium of supply and demand, or do the Government want an oversupply? This is a matter that the Select Committee looked into, and about which a number of royal colleges are concerned. They take the view that it takes so long for doctors to come through the training grades that one wants an equilibrium rather than a situation where people who have committed themselves to 15 years’ training find that there is no work for them at the end of it. Perhaps the noble Earl might take up that matter with me in writing.
Amendment 14 asks HEE to,
“have regard to any official guidance on staffing numbers and skills mix”.
We will come back to this issue. The Minister will know that the Francis report recommended that NICE essentially should produce benchmarking measures for minimum staff numbers and the required skills mix, including for the number of nurses on wards. It is too late to have a debate on issues to do with nursing staff ratios, but it would be good to know whether the Government will take forward recommendations 22 and 23, because that work will be very relevant to HEE’s own work on the number of staff required in future.
Amendment 19 relates to Clause 86 and deals with quality improvement in education and training. All I ask from the noble Earl is a recognition that in future we will need to revisit the curricula of the universities to make sure that when doctors, nurses and other practitioners leave those universities and are ready to go into employment, they will have some practical-based training from having undertaken clinical duties. I am not convinced that the bodies that set the curriculum have got it right yet. Whenever challenged on these issues, they always claim that everything is hunky-dory and that we should not worry and yet there is a complete loss of public confidence in those training programmes. I do hope that HEE is going to be able to give a kick to those bodies that are concerned with the curricula and those education institutions to ensure that people are ready to practise when they are given their ticket to go into the health service.
On Clause 87, which concerns the objectives, priorities and outcomes of the HEE, I have another series of amendments. I want to tease out the Government’s recognition that, although in the construct of the Bill HEE will have an annual plan, it will also be required to look three years ahead. I wonder whether that is long enough. The argument that has been put to me by a number of organisations is that the time between the commissioning of a training place and that person practising in the health service can be many years. One of the questions is whether it would be better if HEE had to develop five and 10-year plans and match those with the demographic and the demand pressures on the health service. It would be helpful if the noble Earl would recognise the need for much longer term planning.
Clause 88 sets out important matters to which HEE has to have regard. In Amendment 28 I ask whether HEE will have to have regard to a need for equality of funding across England and consistency in education and training opportunities. Given the mismatch between a population and the education and training facilities available, will HEE have a duty to balance where those resources go?
On Amendment 29, will the noble Earl confirm that specialist training-place issues will be dealt with nationally? I need hardly remind him of the sensitivity of this in relation to junior doctor training. I wonder whether it is good enough to leave it to local LETBs to decide. I do think that some national provision and direction is required.
Amendment 30 concerns HEE’s relationship with other countries of the UK. There is a reference to the need for HEE to undertake duties in relation to the devolved Administrations. Surely much more is required. We are talking about a UK health service. Scotland definitely trains more people than is required for the Scottish health service. The same may be the case in Wales which has big problems in attracting junior doctors. There needs to be a UK-wide view of education and training and I hope that the HEE has both the remit and the encouragement of Ministers to work across those borders.
Amendment 32A covers the matters to which HEE must have regard. I have put down an amendment to ask HEE to give specific focus to arrangements for end-of-life care. The noble Earl has taken part in a number of debates on the Liverpool care pathway which have served to raise issues not so much about the policy behind the pathway, although I know that a review is being undertaken, but more about the way in which that has been interpreted by some organisations. It suggests that more is required in relation to the training of staff in end-of-life care. I am sure that in Part 1 we will come back to the issue of social care provision for end-of-life care but it would helpful if the noble Earl could reassure me that this one of the matters that HEE may look at. I beg to move.
My Lords, I wish to speak to Amendment 24, which explores the benefits of placing a duty on the Secretary of State to consult on the objectives and priorities of Health Education England. In particular, I wish to explore how the Secretary of State will consult vulnerable people, including people with a learning disability, to ensure that education and training provided by this body will create a workforce that meets this group’s needs. Consulting and listening carefully chimes with the Government’s intentions through their response to the Francis inquiry, which stated:
“We will listen most carefully to those whose voices are weakest and find it hardest to speak for themselves. We will care most carefully for the most vulnerable people—the very old and the very young, people with learning disabilities and people with severe mental illness”.
This is a most welcome commitment, as currently people with a learning disability are not receiving appropriate care. On Tuesday 21 May, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman published its report into the death of Tina Papalabropoulos. Tina was 23 and had a learning disability. She died on 30 January 2009 at Basildon hospital in Essex. The ombudsman found that the hospital did not give her the treatment she needed or even meet her basic care needs. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident, and there is substantial evidence that poor care exists across the health service.
Early this year, the confidential inquiry into the premature deaths of people with learning disabilities in the south-west reported on its study of the deaths of 233 adults and 14 children with a learning disability. It found that 42% of the deaths were premature and that 37% would have been avoidable if good quality healthcare had been provided. On a national level, this equates to over 1,200 adults and children with a learning disability across England whose deaths should have been avoidable with good quality healthcare. This comes as no surprise to many. The Department of Health highlighted the issue back in its Valuing People and Valuing People Now strategies, and the excellent report by Sir Jonathan Michael, Healthcare for All, set out a series of recommendations for improving care for people with a learning disability. It is these people whom the Secretary of State should consult when setting objectives and priorities for this most important of public bodies. Without the input of people with a learning disability and their families, we will fail to change a system and a culture that in many cases provide substandard care for the most vulnerable in our society.
I realise that the Minister will probably reply that in order to publish the objectives and priorities for the forthcoming year of Health Education England, the Secretary of State will have consulted the parties concerned. However, as an actor who, years ago, used to drop his trousers for a living, I nowadays prefer the security of belt and braces, and I hope that the Minister will be able to offer this.
My Lords, I would like to understand what Amendment 14 is suggesting, and maybe express some reservations. If I have read it wrongly, I apologise. It is important that Health Education England takes official guidance into account, but we have this dilemma in my own trust about what the Francis report is saying. To have a national edict about what staffing levels ought to be, and the ratios and numbers of staff as well as the skills mix, is not really ideal from the point of view of people operating in the health service, particularly in hospitals. Times change throughout the day on hospitals and on wards, and different levels of skills and different grades of staff are required at different times. You would have to have a permutation that was so huge that it would be less than helpful to have a national edict. I would be concerned that we should take notice of official guidance, but nothing more than that.
I support Amendment 27 and the view about longer-term stuff. In particular—I am sure this will come up later in our deliberations on the Bill, and it is very much in line with what we talked about for a long time in our consideration of the Health and Social Care Bill—the change that is happening as we speak, the evolution of moving, quite rightly in my view as the chair of a provider trust, from acute hospitals to other opportunities to deliver care, is hugely important.
I will share an anecdote with your Lordships. In a discussion with a previous director of nursing in my own trust, I asked her, with my vision of where things ought to be in the future, with nurses following the patient out to their home, how many nurses working on our wards are equipped and skilled to follow Margaret Wall or another patient out and say, “OK, she is now going home”. Her view was very frank: not many would be. I think that is hugely important, because different skills are required to work with someone at home and they need to be incorporated with the skills of nursing overall. It is important when looking at five-year plans, never mind 10-year plans, that we consider the education process in the sense of how people are going to deliver in different environments, which we are all working hard to make sure happens.
Amendment 19, on the importance of practical-based training in the education of clinicians, follows on from what the noble Baroness, Lady Wall, and the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, have just said. Because we are moving so quickly in healthcare delivery and the integration and multi-professional working, perhaps we should be looking at how holistic care, which is what I think is being referred to—the ability to see the patient pathway from primary care through to hospital care and back out to primary care—can be a pathway that nurses in particular are trained to be able to execute and to ensure that the transition from one to the other is smooth and without hiccups.
The complaint that we are getting at the moment from the public is that there is a complete block in some areas where the staff are just not aware of what the discharge policies should be and what is at the other end. That picks up the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, about the practical skills and the need to look at the curricula from the academic area and put them back into the practice area.
Amendment 14 concerns HEE’s staffing and skills mix in carrying out its functions. When we look at the skills mix, what we are really looking for is an evidence base. We want to look not at static numbers but at evidence based on the safety level. If the minimum is based on the safety level, we are looking at something that can be a useful guide on which to base our working.
My Lords, I shall speak to Amendments 26 and 33. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, I also emphasise the importance of Amendment 19. While it is a rather small amendment, it has huge significance.
Talking to people from Health Education England recently, I was struck by the desire in the Francis report about the whole issue of practical training. When a significant amount of the training of medics, doctors and nurses is carried out in practical situations, one asks how you can get the sort of situations that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, referred to. When nurses spend 50% of their time in practical situations, how do they come out of their training not ready to be deployed in certain areas? To be fair, when you see the time and the effort that is put into mentoring in many of these settings and the quality of that mentoring, you start to realise that there is a big problem. I hope that on Report we can bring back some of the issues relating to mentoring, or at least get some satisfaction from the Minister that this issue will be taken incredibly seriously in health education. If it is not, we will continue to have people who in theory are trained well but in practical terms are really not as fit for purpose as they should be. That will not be their fault; it will be our fault.
Amendment 26 very much echoes the thoughts behind Amendment 27. I particularly welcome in Amendment 27 the idea of having a 10-year plan. In fact, five years is short-term. It is better than what we have at the moment, but a 10-year plan is a really good idea, and I am sorry that I did not table that amendment. I saw it but thought that we would not want two amendments along the same lines.
On Amendment 26, Clause 85(1) of the Care Bill defines Health Education England’s responsibility as ensuring that,
“a sufficient number of persons with the skills and training to work as health care workers for the purposes of the health service is available to do so throughout England”.
Who could disagree with that? What a noble suggestion. While that would clearly include both healthcare support workers and nurses, the mandate, which was helpfully provided by the Minister before this debate, sets out a strategic national role in relation to medicine, dentistry and pharmacy in paragraph 5.2.6, and proposes a five-year workforce plan for “smaller specialties and professions” in paragraph 5.2.7, but provides little information on how the nursing workforce or the healthcare support workforce is to be undertaken and implemented. Does that not tell us all we need to know about what the priorities still are? While we have good words within the Bill, we do not have anything within the mandate that backs them up in a real sense. Midwives and health visitors suddenly appear, but I think that the commitment to having a comprehensive workforce under a five-year plan is worth really striving for.
Amendment 33 looks at the future guidance and standards for safe levels of staffing. I have a real problem with allocating numbers. When I was in another place, I remember arguing with the then Government about class sizes for years 1 and 2 in primary schools, where there had to be 30 children or fewer and the 31st child had to go somewhere else. You realise that, depending on the setting, you can do all sorts of different things. What we must not do is tie down the hands of high-quality management in being able to deploy staff in the most appropriate way. What matters is getting the mix of staff absolutely right. I hope that we will return to the question of staffing levels because it is fundamental but, frankly, we could go down the wrong road if we took it too seriously.
My Lords, time and again in this House the matter of training of health professionals so that they better understand how to support and care for people with autism has been debated. Here, I should declare an interest as a vice-president of the National Autistic Society. We know that key professionals such as GPs and community care assessors still do not have a good enough understanding of autism.
Amendment 24, about which the noble Lord, Lord Rix, has spoken and to which I have added my name in support, if taken on board by the Government would at least ensure that the Secretary of State would be required to consult vulnerable people, including those with autism, their carers and groups such as the National Autistic Society, Mencap and others on matters affecting education and training that will be provided by Health Education England.
Only one in three adults with autism in this country told the National Autistic Society in a survey that in their experience social workers have a good understanding of autism. There is a well established correlation between the professionals’ understanding of autism and the degree of identification of needs among adults in that local authority area with the condition. Autism training can help ensure that adults with autism are correctly identified, and qualify for the support they need.
I recently served on the autism and aging commission, chaired by the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross. Professor Francesca Happé gave evidence about the difficulties of picking up on autistic people’s needs. She said:
“This is a group that doesn’t self-present, doesn’t come and seek services, because of their difficulties of social interaction and communication and we absolutely owe it to them to go and find out what their needs are”.
For that reason, we need well trained people to support them.
The National Autistic Society’s excellent document, Push for Action: We Need to Turn the Autism Act into Action, made a very good case. It includes a very good case study by the mother of an adult with autism. Her name is Chloe, and she says:
“We got to the point where Peter couldn’t live at home, for his own and our safety. After moving around between people he knew and staying in a B&B, eventually he got a flat but he still doesn’t get any support. Social services don’t understand autism and how it affects him. They’re not asking the right questions. They say, ‘How are you?’, and he says, ‘I’m fine’, so they come back to me and say, ‘He’s fine, he doesn’t need any help’. But of course he says he’s fine at that point because he probably is at that point”.
He does not trust them, so he says he is fine in order to make them go away because he does not believe that they understand or are able to help him.
“He had a mental capacity assessment and they asked him about managing his money. He told them that he was saving money for a motorbike but he doesn’t have any money. He can’t manage his money. He gets into all sorts of trouble”.
“I’ve given up asking for support. Me and my husband now do everything ourselves … Now we have no expectations of what ‘services’ should be providing”.
That is just one example of the lack of trained staff having an adverse impact on the life of an autistic person and their family.
I hope the Government will ensure that autism training is included in the core curricula for doctors, nurses and other clinicians, in accordance with the commitments under the Adult Autism Strategy. It is absolutely necessary that vulnerable groups, including people with autism, are consulted about priorities for training so that decision-makers become aware of the gaps in knowledge and understanding among health professionals.
Ultimately, the Government must tackle the issue by including autism training in the core curricula for doctors, nurses and other clinicians, as they committed to do in the 2010 Adult Autism Strategy. People with a learning disability and/or autism have the right to the same quality of healthcare as those without. I believe that Amendment 24 is a good step forward in achieving that.
My Lords, I will deal briefly with two of the amendments in this group. I will deal first with Amendment 11, which was tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. The explanation for this provision in the Bill is essentially that it is a safety net to enable an extension of HEE’s activities in future, and to ensure that this has the Secretary of State’s prior consent. HEE can carry out other activities relating to the education and training of healthcare workers, or relating to the provision of information and advice on careers in the health service. However, we believe that to avoid undue mission creep it is perhaps advisable for the Secretary of State to be content that Health Education England is branching out in new directions.
Regarding Amendment 32A and the issue of end-of-life care, Health Education England will indeed support NHS England where it can in implementing its end-of-life care strategy, and the way that it shapes and reforms education and training.
Amendment 24, tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Rix and Lord Touhig, seeks to amend Clause 87 by inserting a new requirement on the Secretary of State to consult on the mandate prior to publication. The Government are absolutely committed to openness and transparency in the way they establish and manage ongoing relationships with arm’s-length bodies. In establishing Health Education England and the local education training boards we have consulted extensively with partners and stakeholders to shape the new system, with a formal public consultation and focused reports produced by the NHS Future Forum, the Health Select Committee and the Joint Committee that scrutinised the draft Bill. As a result, there is widespread support for the creation of Health Education England and a solid platform to build on in shaping the new arrangements. Last Tuesday, the Government published their first mandate for Health Education England. This sets out clear national objectives and priorities for HEE, backed by a £5 billion budget to support investment in education, training and development.
I can reassure noble Lords that the mandate was developed with the input of many partners and stakeholders across the healthcare system, including local employers, trade unions, professional bodies and medical royal colleges, professional regulators and other important bodies in the system such as NHS England and Public Health England.
It is our intention that the mandate for Health Education England will be reviewed regularly to ensure that the objectives are current and meaningful to the needs of our health and care system. I hope that those, albeit general, remarks will reassure both noble Lords about our commitment to partnership working.
The Minister appeared to say that most of the people being consulted were professional bodies. He did not mention that people with a learning disability and their families and autistic people and their families were also going to be consulted. He mentioned the list of professional bodies but not the parents, carers and the people themselves.
My Lords, I understand the point. In view of the hour, if I may, I will write to both noble Lords to flesh out the remarks that I have made. I hope that I can give them some comfort in that area.
Amendments 25 and 27, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, focus on the importance of long-term and national approaches to workforce planning in education and training, as does Amendment 26. We have strengthened the Bill, following feedback in consultation and at pre-legislative scrutiny, in Clauses 87 and 93 to reflect the importance of HEE and the LETBs taking a long-term perspective on workforce planning and education and training. It is the Government’s expectation that all workforce planning, be it national level planning by HEE or local planning by the LETBs, should be based on a well informed, long-term workforce strategy that looks at needs over the next five years, 10 years or beyond. Any workforce strategy to be credible and deliverable has to be developed in partnership with those partners and stakeholders who have a stake in it. The very same principle applies to the development of national workforce priorities and outcomes and the Government are committed to working with everyone involved in education and training to shape the education outcomes framework and the mandate for Health Education England.
Health Education England will be expected to develop a national workforce plan, building on the local plans developed across England by local education and training boards. I hope that the noble Lord will feel reassured by those comments.
I turn now to Amendments 33 and 14, which seek to amend the Bill to require HEE to have regard to any official guidance and standards on staffing numbers and skill mix. HEE must work with commissioners and healthcare providers to ensure that workforce plans focus not only on how many staff are required but the breadth of skills required to deliver safe services. These plans need to be integrated with service and financial planning so that the needs of all patients and local communities can be met. Individual healthcare providers are best placed to determine how many staff they need to employ, the skill mix required across the various teams and how they need to deploy them to support services and so on. It is the responsibility of individual healthcare provider boards to be accountable for staffing levels and the skill mix of staff in their organisations. Where changes are planned to the size and shape of the workforce, including the skill mix, healthcare organisations must provide assurance that the safety and quality of patient care is maintained or improved. The process should include clinical involvement, leadership and sign off. I hope that these comments will be reassuring.
The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, asked me about the definition of “sufficient” and whether we were talking about equilibrium or oversupply. I will write to him on that, but in delivering that duty, HEE will seek to match supply and demand so far as that is practically possible. It will also promote the importance of a flexible workforce that can adapt to changing circumstances.
I will also, if I may, write on the issue of staffing ratios. I would just say here and now that staffing is clearly not just about crude numbers and not just about nurses. It is also about how the staff work and ensuring that the right staff are in place to meet the needs of the patients whom they are looking after. Again, it is local healthcare providers that are in the best place to decide how to configure those staff in the right way and to ensure better outcomes and value for money. It really depends on the skill mix, the clinical practice and local factors. I think we would say that it is right that nurse leaders should have the freedom to agree their own staff profiles. But I shall follow up that point.
Amendment 19 seeks to amend Clause 86(2) to add to Health Education England’s main functions the promotion of the importance of practical based training in the education of clinicians. I wholeheartedly agree that practical experience while training is essential to ensure that clinicians have the necessary skills to deliver high-quality and compassionate care and have the correct values and behaviours to practise in the NHS and public health system. It is the responsibility of the professional regulators to ensure that the right standards are in place for professional education and training. Practical experience is already a requirement of the professional regulators. Nursing students, for example, are required by the Nursing and Midwifery Council to undertake half of their training in a practice setting. The GMC also expects every medical student to gain practical experience of working with patients throughout their degree. We have placed a strong duty to secure continuous improvement in the quality of education and training on Health Education England. HEE is already working with the professional regulators, as I have already mentioned, to ensure that the Bill remains clear and simple. However, we have not specified the integral elements of the training programmes to which this duty applies. I would add, though, that the need for practical experience is one of the key priorities that the Government have set for the Health Education England Special Health Authority in the mandate. Health Education England will work with the LETBs and healthcare providers to deliver high-quality clinical and public health placements that provide students and trainees sufficient time working with patients to gain experience.
On Amendment 29, I can reassure the noble Lord that, where appropriate, Health Education England will take a national lead in the planning and management of education and training activities. The Bill already makes provision for this in Clause 94(2). The HEE Special Health Authority has already taken on responsibility at national level for crucially important arrangements to manage recruitment into foundation and specialty training programmes for junior doctors. Where there are controls on workforce numbers at national level—for example, in medicine or pharmacy—it will work with partners such as the Higher Education Funding Council for England to develop national plans that will deliver the staff needed across England.
Amendment 30 seeks to amend Clause 88 to add a requirement for Health Education England to have regard to the need,
“to co-ordinate its activities with the NHS in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland”.
Of course, it is very important that HEE works closely with the other UK nations in developing workforce plans and shaping education and training. It will be important for it to take a UK-wide perspective and, where appropriate, an EU-wide or indeed global perspective in planning for the future and reforming education and training. I refer the Committee to paragraph 17 of Schedule 5, which enables Health Education England to exercise corresponding functions on behalf of the devolved authorities. The special health authority is already working closely with its partners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, building on previous arrangements.
I sympathise completely with Amendment 28 and I wholeheartedly agree that there should be equality of funding for education and training across England. Moving to a tariff-based system for funding clinical education and training would enable a national approach to the funding of clinical placements and would provide a more level playing field between different providers. It will ensure that providers are reimbursed fairly for the education and training that they deliver and are incentivised to provide high-quality clinical placements to their students and trainees. For consistency of opportunities across the country, Clause 85 places a duty on HEE to ensure that sufficient numbers of health professionals are trained and available to work in the health service throughout England.
I hope that noble Lords will feel reassured by those remarks. Before I close, I will quickly respond to my noble friend Lord Willis, who expressed concern about the mandate containing little on nursing and support workers. There is a clear and strong commitment to supporting the development of the care assistant support workforce. Similarly, there are clear national priorities focusing on development of the nursing and midwifery workforce. Again, if I can elaborate on that in writing, I would be happy to do.
My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Earl for that comprehensive response. I am sure that we will all want to study it very carefully in Hansard. I will just make two points. One is that I hear what he says about the obvious intention of HEE to undertake long-term planning, but putting something in the Bill might help it with that. Secondly, I realise that my amendment on practical-based training is not very sophisticated but there is a kernel of truth within it that I would like to pursue on Report. But I am most grateful and beg leave to withdraw my Amendment 11.
Amendment 11 withdrawn.
Amendment 12 not moved.
Clause 84 agreed.
Clause 85 : Ensuring sufficient skilled health care workers for the health service
Amendment 12A not moved.
House adjourned at 10.28 pm.