Committee (2nd Day) (Continued)
22: Clause 86, page 73, line 15, at end insert—
“( ) HEE has a responsibility to ensure that its duties under this section are also extended to the Local Education and Training Boards.”
My Lords, I wish to make sure that the House is aware of my interest as chair of a foundation trust and as a consultant and trainer with Cumberlege Connections. This group concerns the objectives and priorities established for Health Education England in Clause 87 and that of the LETBs as set out in Clauses 90 to 93. My Amendments 22, 52 and Clause 90 stand part really go to the heart of the relationship between HEE and the LETBs. Past experience indicates that unless one has strong leadership at a national level on workforce issues, one can find that decisions are taken locally, without national consequences being thought through. In the past this has led to an unfortunate reduction in training commissions despite national exhortations not to do so. I want to avoid that happening with Health Education England. I appreciate that under Clause 90, LETBs are appointed by HEE and, I suppose, exercise functions on behalf of HEE. However, I would like to see it explicitly stated in the clause that LETBs will come under the firm direction of Health Education England.
I have to acknowledge that I have been taken to task for my amendments by the Foundation Trust Network for undermining local provider autonomy. I stand corrected. I sympathise, and understand that LETBs must have room to breathe and innovate. However, ultimately, the integrity of a national strategy must be maintained. I hope that the noble Earl’s response on this and, on the ability of HEE to amend the training plans of LETBs if they are considered to fall short, will be positive.
I turn to Clause 92 and my Amendment 47 on the co-operation required between LETBs and local providers. The clause ensures that commissioners must require providers to co-operate with the LETB in planning the provision of, and in providing, the education and training for healthcare workers. Who could disagree with the need for NHS trusts, foundation trusts and other providers to be called to co-operate with the LETBs. But why is this being done through the commissioning process?
I have frequently listened to Ministers, when asked to intervene in the NHS, say that it is a matter for commissioners. I do not want to argue the ideology of commissioning and providing, but I wonder whether that is the right approach in this case. If one thinks of the challenges facing clinical commissioning groups, with small staffs and little experience, can it be expected that they can devote time to ensuring that providers co-operate with each other and the LETBs over education and training? Realistically, I suspect they will have very little time indeed. Therefore, as a minimum the HEE should be required to give guidance on how commissioners are to undertake that responsibility. More substantively, why not lay a direct requirement in the Bill on NHS foundation trusts and trusts on the face of the Bill to co-operate with the LETBs? That would be a signal of intent that NHS bodies could not ignore. I hope the noble Earl might be prepared to give that some consideration.
My third and fourth amendments in the group concern the organisations that LETBs must involve in preparing their education and training plan as set out in Clause 93(4). Overall, this clause is welcome, but it could be improved by my Amendment 49, which adds local authorities to the list. I am sure that the noble Earl will argue that this is covered by Clause 93(4)(c), specifying that health and well-being boards must be involved. However, the importance of these plans goes wider than that. I am sure that the local authority in general in the area of the LETB would have much to offer.
Similarly, Amendment 51 seeks to have patients and carers involved. With all the debate about whether professionals trained to work in the health service are really ready to give clinical care—I go back to the debate we had recently about healthcare support workers—surely patients should have a place round the table, where decisions that have a crucial bearing on patient outcomes are made. Very similar amendments and arguments can be made in support of the amendments of my noble friend Lord Turnberg and the noble Lord, Lord Patel, which I support. However, I hope that the noble Earl will be able to come back positively on the need of patients or carers to have a place and be involved when the training plans of the LETB are being considered. I beg to move.
My Lords, I strongly support my noble friend’s amendments, which would ensure that local authorities and, in particular, patients and carers can be represented on the LETBs. I have three amendments in the group. Amendment 38 adds to the list of bodies from whom LETBs need to seek advice—namely, the local university medical and nursing schools. I know it is hardly likely that their advice will not be sought since they are so intimately involved in delivering educational programmes, but in case that message is not clear, we need to have it clarified somewhere in the Bill. I recognise that there has not always been unlimited delight felt by the trusts about the way the universities, particularly the nursing schools, have provided education suiting their products to the trusts’ needs. Nevertheless, it would be clearly wrong to ignore them.
Amendment 41 draws attention to the need to include postgraduate deans in the local education and training boards’ activities. It surprises me, to say the least, that the deans are not mentioned at all in the Bill, despite the fact that they are absolutely crucial to the oversight of education and training. I am sure they will be involved but we must have the comfort of knowing that their crucial role is acknowledged by seeing them clearly mentioned in the Bill.
Amendment 50 makes it a requirement for LETBs to include in their list of bodies from whom they need to take advice, the local universities in their patch. It is not enough to include these bodies in the catch-all phrase of subsection (4)(e),
“such other persons as the LETB considers appropriate”.
The medical schools need to be named in that list.
I speak in support of Amendment 51 on the patient and carer voice. I know that there is sometimes resistance to patient and carer representatives on bodies such as this. One often hears professionals say, “They only speak from their own experience”. Yes, they do speak from their own experience—and that is actually the powerful and most informative bit. That is not to say that patients and carers can only speak from their own personal experience; they speak from the wider experience too of other patients and carers with whom they are in contact. That is the most important voice and we should give it a hearing, because very often it is a way of approaching a situation entirely differently from the way in which the professionals would come at it. I am sure that there is a great deal that most professionals, either trained or in the process of being trained, could learn from that.
My Lords, I wish to say a word about these issues. There is a danger, when we are setting up on the face of the Bill, the component parts of something like the LETB boards. As I understand it, the principle was that the majority of members of the board are local providers. That seems sensible because clearly they are the people who are going to have the knowledge and will inform the LETBs. Simply adding new members, each with a representative function, does not really aid the ability of a board to make decisions. It can become less effective and efficient, purely due to the numbers of people around the table.
There are many groups of workers and, indeed, patients who have got a case, but there are other ways of involving them. I very much accept what the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, said about having due regard to universities and deans of medical schools. I am happy about the idea that one should have regard to advice that has been given, but I am not sure about having specific representatives that HEE decides are good for a local area on the board. Some areas want to do it differently. To me, that is fine. The size of the LETBs varies enormously; they can be the size of the whole of the north-west and the whole of the south-west, yet Wessex and Thames Valley are separate. These are to be local education and training boards; they need the freedom and flexibility to reflect the local area. Although I understand that people are anxious to ensure that the LETBs are efficient and represent local areas, views and constituent parts, it should be left to their flexibility and judgment.
My Lords, I support Amendments 38 and 41 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg. I slightly disagree, which is difficult to do, with the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege. In the new world, postgraduate deans are responsible not just for medical education, but for the whole of health education. If Health Education England is to be a body that influences education and training from the beginning to the end—we will come to another amendment relating to continuous professional development—postgraduate deans and deans of medical and nursing schools are crucial. If they are not to be represented on the local education and training boards, Health Education England cannot, through its committee, influence any of the innovations in education and training. That would be wrong.
There are examples where postgraduate deans and deans of medical and nursing schools are represented on education and training boards and they work fantastically well. I cannot see any reason why postgraduate deans and deans of nursing and medical schools could not be represented on local education and training boards, no matter what their size. I support the amendment.
My Lords, this is a really useful short debate. I begin by saying that members of the Committee should not feel anxious; I feel that there is a degree of anxiety which needs to be allayed.
Local health providers and their clinical leaders have told us that they are well placed to understand the changing shape of services and the way in which their workforce must respond to deliver high-quality services to patients. They are able to link workforce planning to service and financial planning, something that has not always been done well in the past and which has contributed to failings in workforce planning.
Following consultation, we have chosen to give local education and training boards a statutory basis as committees of Health Education England. But the policy intent, reflected in the Bill, is that they are not mere local delivery arms of a national body. Rather, they are a key part of decentralising power, so for the first time, the providers of health services will have clear responsibility and accountability for the planning, commissioning and quality management of education and training for their workforce.
The mandate to the Health Education England special health authority includes a clear objective to support more autonomous local decision-making on behalf of local communities. A critical measure of the success of Health Education England at national level will be the effectiveness with which its engagement with the LETBs and employers results in greater responsibility and accountability for workforce development being taken by employers at local level.
At the same time, with localism comes accountability. HEE will need to hold LETBs to account for their investment in education and training and delivery against key priorities. Of course, there needs to be co-ordination in the approach to planning and delivering education and training. That is why the Government, and the vast majority of stakeholders, believe that we have got the balance right in establishing Health Education England as a national leadership organisation for education and training, with local providers securing greater autonomy and accountability through the LETBs. There will always be national level priorities and objectives for workforce development and, rightly, Ministers want reassurance through Health Education England that they are being addressed, but the policy intent is to do that in a way that strikes a balance between the national and the more local perspectives.
Amendment 22 is intended to ensure that duties under Clause 86 extend to the LETBs. I appreciated the balanced comments of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, and wholeheartedly agree that local education and training boards, given a statutory basis as committees of Health Education England, should support Health Education England in the delivery of key national duties, including those in Clause 86. As commissioners of education and training, Health Education England and the LETBs will work with education partners, service providers and professional regulators to ensure that the education and training that is provided in education institutions and in health service settings continually improves and delivers health professionals who are fit for purpose and who meet the needs of employers, patients and service users.
We have already discussed the importance of research and the role that local education and training boards can play in supporting the diffusion of research and innovation. By promoting the NHS constitution through its workforce planning and education and training activities, HEE and the LETBs will help to ensure that staff develop the correct values and behaviours to practise in the NHS and the public health system.
Amendment 47 would amend Clause 92 to place an obligation on Health Education England to provide guidance on how it will ensure that providers of health services co-operate with local education and training boards. Clause 92 builds on an existing duty introduced by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which places a legal obligation on commissioners to make arrangements with providers to secure their co-operation with the Secretary of State on education and training. The purpose of that duty is to ensure co-operation with the local education and training board to support workforce planning activities, the provision of workforce information and the delivery of education and training to healthcare workers. That is an important step in ensuring that the system is well integrated and that all providers play their part in supporting essential education and training activity.
To emphasise that, and in answer to a question put to me by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, Clause 92 provides that regulations,
“must require specified commissioners ... to include in the arrangements under the National Health Service Act 2006 ... terms to ensure that”,
providers co-operate with the LETB.
The Government have already put in place measures to deliver the duty in the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which came into effect on 1 April 2013, by amending the commissioning contracts and supporting regulations for the delivery of services, so that they now require co-operation on education and training.
It will be the regulations rather than any guidance which will set out how the duty is to be implemented. The level of co-operation, the information requested and the obligations required may vary over time. It is therefore more appropriate to enable this level of administrative and procedural detail to be set by regulations rather than in the Bill.
Turning next to Amendments 38, 41 and 50, as we have previously discussed, it is important that Health Education England and the LETBs have access to people with expertise and knowledge on education and training matters. The postgraduate deans have great knowledge and expertise and, through the local education and training boards, they are now an integral part of the new system, working alongside other colleagues to strengthen the multidisciplinary approach to planning and developing the workforce. It is important to remember here that Health Education England and the LETBs have responsibility for the education and training of all the professions. Although medical training is a very important element of their functions, the LETBs have a much broader focus.
It is important that we give LETBs the flexibility to determine who sits on their boards. To be appointed in the first place, local education and training boards need to demonstrate to Health Education England that they have the right governance arrangements and the right mix of people on their board to ensure that it has the skills, knowledge and expertise to carry out its functions.
The Bill makes provision in Clause 91 for those involved in education and training, such as universities, to be eligible to sit on a LETB. We know that all the 13 LETBs established by the HEE special health authority have a university representative on their board.
Amendment 52 seeks to place a requirement on Health Education England to direct a LETB to amend its education and training plan if not doing so would lead to a failure to ensure national workforce priorities are implemented. I am pleased to be able to reassure the Committee that such a provision already exists in the Bill. Education and training plans will be submitted to HEE for review and approval. If, after reviewing the plan, HEE considers that it does not suitably support nationally agreed priorities and outcomes, subsections (6) and (7) provide the power to require the local education and training board to amend the plan.
On Amendments 49 and 51, the Government agree that it is important that local partners across the health and care system are able to be involved in the development of education and training plans. That is why we have made provision for providers of health services, commissioners of health services and health and well-being boards to be involved in plans’ development.
The noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, asked whether there were any examples of patients and carers already involved in LETBs. HEE will have a patient advisory forum as part of its advisory structure. At a local level, the appointment criteria set out that LETBs must link in to patient forums and take account of patients’ views.
I also point out that the Bill enables Health Education England to direct LETBs to involve other persons in the development of their plans. The criteria that the Health Education England special health authority uses to appoint LETBs require it to demonstrate meaningful and effective engagement with a much wider range of partners across health, public health, social care and the education and research sectors. This includes patient groups, students and trainees, and the range of professional bodies and professional regulators with an interest in education and training.
I hope that the Committee feels reassured that local education and training boards are crucial to support Health Education England in carrying out its education and training functions. I therefore hope that the noble Lord feels content to withdraw the amendment.
The problem is that I suspect there to be a conflict. There is a desire to devolve responsibility for education to local education and training boards, which are dominated, of course quite reasonably, by local providers. Their desire is to see a trained workforce in the right numbers, and they will be very interested in workforce planning. There is also a drive at the centre to maintain standards across the country, and so there is tension between the two. The noble Earl set out a number of provisions which will help. The amendments we put down were meant to strengthen that capacity in order for the LETBs to inspire confidence that they fully take account of educational standards and all that sort of thing, as well as the need to provide numbers of doctors, nurses, trainees and everything else.
My Lords, I would rather have a creative tension than a disconnect. If we get this right the tension will be there but it will be mutually reinforcing. You will have accountabilities running in both directions, essentially, from the national to the local and from the local to the national. In the past this has been a notoriously difficult area to get right. We hope and believe that the structure we are putting in place, in which the LETBs are committees of the national body but which have their own autonomy to a certain degree, will ensure that the tension that the noble Lord referred to really is creative, rather than the reverse.
My Lords, that was a very useful exchange. I do not disagree with this architecture, in which national leadership comes from HEE but considerable autonomy is given to LETBs. When looking back at the history of the NHS I remain concerned, as does my noble friend, about failure to implement national strategies in relation to the workforce. This is because decisions are being taken locally which do not fit into the national strategy, particularly over training commissions. This afternoon the noble Earl said that HEE has enough powers to intervene if that were to happen. I think the question is whether HEE has enough national leadership and confidence to actually ensure that a national strategy is implemented. Of course, we will have to see.
On membership, I note the noble Earl’s statement about the number of different professional groups that will have to be covered by LETBs, which is why postgraduate deans are not listed on the face of the Bill. I think that my noble friend really was persuasive on this point. Doctors may not be the only profession, but they are a very important profession. I would have thought it quite extraordinary not to have a postgraduate dean among those around the table of the LETB. Equally, I do not think that the patient advisory forum is sufficient at national level. Considering the NHS record over the last few years, one of the areas causing most concern has been whether trained staff are fit for purpose when it comes to clinical areas. To have a representative of a patient or carer around the table at a LETB would have been very important. However, this has been a good debate, and I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment 22 withdrawn.
Clause 86 agreed.
23: After Clause 86, insert the following new Clause—
“Mandatory training for health and care support workers
(1) HEE must develop a mandatory training curriculum for health and care support workers who are delivering direct care to service users.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a health or care support worker shall be an individual who works in support of health or care professionals and delivers direct care to service users.
(3) In setting the training curriculum set out in subsection (1), HEE must seek to ensure that standards and competencies are developed in conjunction with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and other relevant organisations.
(4) Providers of health or care services must be responsible for ensuring that all health care support workers have completed the mandatory training curriculum in subsection (1).”
My Lords, in her absence I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, for introducing the debate earlier this afternoon on the regulation of healthcare support workers, which opened the discussion leading to the two amendments that are down here. The first is in my name and the second in that of the noble Lord, Lord Willis, who unfortunately is unable to be with us. We wish him a speedy recovery.
I want to make one or two points by way of introduction. First, I would be remiss not to say that the Royal College of Nursing has long called for the mandatory registration and regulation of healthcare support workers. The RCN believes that it is an important part of the registration and regulation process because it has done a tremendous amount of work in talking to both registered nurses and healthcare support workers. It feels that this should be the way forward in the interests of patient safety. However, disappointed as they have been that we could not have regulation, they have moved on and are sympathetic to the amendments that we have laid down.
Mention was made of the disappearance from this setting of enrolled nurses. I went back to look at the case that was made for that disappearance and the end of enrolled nurse training. It happened because the enrolled nurses were being abused and misused by being left in charge of wards and being required to undertake tasks for which they had not been trained or were not being supervised. I have to say that the various skills currently being used by healthcare support workers far exceeds the definition of basic skills. They are doing things that might suggest that they are being abused and misused. I am sure that the House will agree that we need to do something about the situation. The Francis report requested that we look at the registration of support workers.
The question of standards leads into the amendments that we have put down. When a healthcare support worker is under the direction of a registered nurse, that nurse is working to care standards that have been determined by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. It seems sensible that the skills for care should be linked to care standards so that the registered nurse who delegates to the support worker can understand to which standards that support worker has been trained as well as the level of understanding that that support worker should have. I think that I used this example before in a debate on the health Bill, but instead of them just being taught how to carry out a skill such as taking a blood pressure, they should also understand the side effects of a raised or lowered blood pressure and what that means in terms of reporting it to the person who has delegated the task.
That brings me to the amendments we have tabled. If I may, I will move straight to Amendment 23A, which is a more succinct qualification of our first amendment and brings in all the points. It is in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Willis of Knaresborough, and is supported by me and the noble Lord, Lord Patel. The first point of the proposed new clause is that:
“Any individual working directly with patients or clients must be certified to have completed training in basic standards”.
In other words, they must go through training which equips them to have a certificate of qualification.
“The standards, in subsection (1), will be published by Nursing and Midwifery Council and approved by HEE”.
There should be some agreement between the NMC, which is the regulatory body, and Health Education England on subscribing to that.
Thirdly, the amendment states:
“Employers must retain a register”.
Once the support worker has been through the agreed LETB training, which would be delegated to a college of further education, they would reach the basic standard and be on a register and hold a certificate. The additional point in Amendment 23A is that it would be,
“an offence for any employer to employ an individual to work directly with patients or clients who is not registered as holding a certificate of training in basic standards”.
That would get over the point that people could go from one place to another without a valid certificate. We are interested to know how the Minister will respond to the amendment’s proposals on basic training certification in place of registration and regulation. I beg to move.
My Lords, I have added my name to both these amendments in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, and the noble Lord, Lord Willis of Knaresborough, and I strongly support the principles behind both. The key issue here is that a training curriculum should be developed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, as the amendment says. In a way—to pre-empt the Minister regarding what the Cavendish review might recommend—whatever the review recommends will have to be taken on board by whoever develops the curriculum. Although the Cavendish review is not defunct, the principles of this amendment are not based on what it might say. Presumably the review will focus on the necessity for training and the kind of training that support and healthcare workers should have. These amendments put a duty on Health Education England to make sure that a curriculum is developed.
The other important point is that the training should be mandatory—not the training curriculum but the training—and the employers must ensure that they employ only those who, having been trained, hold a certificate showing that they have completed it. It is just the same as I would have to do when seeking employment at a hospital. I would have to produce a degree certificate from a university proving that I have been trained as a doctor before they will employ me. It would be an offence to do otherwise. The amendment does not provide for a penalty but that issue will have to be addressed. Although “register” might be the wrong word, the implication is that the employer should be obliged to keep a list of all the healthcare support workers in its employment who have completed the mandatory training and hold a certificate.
The completion of training and the holding of a certificate are the key issues. As nobody can be employed unless they have done that, the care for patients will be safer. The process will define the competencies of these people. It will define what further development they have to go through professionally to be able to do other tasks. It will also make the life of the supervisor easier as they will know what competencies these people have and they will not delegate to them tasks which are beyond their competencies. In that respect, these amendments fulfil all the requirements that the Francis report and several other reports have alluded to—the need to make sure that we have a fully trained and competent workforce which delivers front-line healthcare. I hope that the noble Earl takes the amendments in that spirit.
My Lords, I want to add quickly to what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton. I very much support what they said. What I can add over and above that is that the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Willis, Amendment 23A, refers to,
“working directly with patients or clients”,
so it works not only in a health context but in a care context.
I will declare my mother—as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, did his—as an interest. She is a lady who I visit regularly and is well over 90. Somebody comes to see her in her home every day—for the most part they are very nice young women—but I have no idea where they come from or what training they have. Amendment 23A would give me confidence that they have been trained and are certificated. Furthermore, these people tend to be quite a mobile population. If their certificates were to follow them from one establishment to the next, it would give the next establishment confidence that their training had been delivered to the right standard and that, all other things being equal, it is appropriate to employ them. That adds weight to Amendment 23A.
In speaking to a previous amendment, my noble friend Lord Hunt produced the explanation, which I am sure is true, that the reason that the Government are being tardy in the area of registration, which is obviously linked to training, is money. I argue that it is actually more costly not to act in this area than to ignore the problems that inevitably arise where there is an untrained workforce in an area where life and death are of critical importance. I do not exaggerate.
I think I have said before in health debates that I probably spend more time in bed on hospital wards than a large number of noble Lords put together. I have seen all kinds of things in hospitals over the years. You never say a word because you are grateful that you are there. You cannot complain. You watch. When you are an MP or a Member of this place you watch with a view to one day perhaps being able to raise what you have seen in a forum where people might actually listen and deal with it. There are many people who leave hospitals today and do not say a word. If they are cured and feel better, they feel grateful, even though they have seen things that they know are wrong.
I argue that many of the problems that arise on hospital wards arise as a result of insufficient training of healthcare assistants. They are in the low-paid sector of the social care and the acute hospital worlds. Many are on the national minimum wage. I will have to do a little more work on vetting and barring. I must admit that I do not know a lot about that. However, it seems to me that somehow people are allowed to enter into this sector who should not be there. I have seen them at work over the years.
I will not name the hospital, but I remember being on a ward where they needed to put strapping across my chest to do an ECG. It was around 1 am or 2 am. A healthcare assistant brought five machines to my bed. The first four machines all appeared not to work. The healthcare assistant then found a junior doctor on the ward. It turned out that the healthcare assistant just did not know how to use the ECG machines. They had not been trained properly. Think of the loss of time involved; of my frustration at 2 am, or whatever time it was—it is several years back now—at having to wait while all this was going on. There was also disruption for the patients in the beds to each side. They could not sleep because of the commotion. They knew that something was happening. The lights were off. There was only a light at the end of the ward where the nurses sit. The curtains were pulled around the bed. People kept going back and forth trying to find out why this piece of equipment was not working. In the end the problem was solved.
I think that there are many areas not only in social care but also in the private social care sector where little things that are of immense importance to patients could be dealt with if only the healthcare assistants available actually knew what they were doing and understood the importance of what they were doing to an individual patient. I shall refer to just a few of these areas. We have heard of food out of reach. I have seen that repeatedly in hospitals. I have seen it in other settings as well. An elderly person may be trying to get hold of something but they cannot communicate. They can only wait for someone to turn up. That person will not be a nurse, because the nurses are invariably sitting behind a desk trying to sort out the huge amount of paperwork that they have to deal with, or a doctor, because the doctors are running back and forth. Their problem may be the jug of water, the uncomfortable bed, the extra pillow, the extra blanket to keep warm, the dirt on the floor, the fact that they have not been cleaned or, if they manage to get to the toilet, the toilet not being properly cleaned. Many people might say that that is down to ward management, but the fact is that everyone on the ward is under pressure and very often it is not the nurse or the ward leader who is held responsible, but the poor young woman or man who is paid very little money who is taking the brunt of the anger of the patient. I do not think that that is good enough. I very strongly support these amendments as their purpose is to tackle the problem of the quality of care that is given by people who are hands-on in the ward.
We have talked about standards. I think that communication is extremely important. I have been on wards where the patient could not talk to the healthcare assistant because the healthcare assistant could not speak English. Can you imagine the frustration of the ill patient who cannot communicate with the healthcare worker because they do not understand what the patient is saying? I think that it is essential that language, and the ability to communicate through language, is a part of the training programme, to ensure that we are not bringing in, particularly from the banks and agencies, people who should not be on the ward. Some of them are, in my view, a danger to patients.
I think that there should certainly be training for healthcare assistants in nutritional requirements and why nutrition is important. As the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, said, it is necessary not just to say to someone that this is what they must do; they must also understand why they are doing it and the significance of that to the patient. There should also be training in ward hygiene and training in the use of equipment. There should be training in how to take blood pressure. On one occasion I had my blood pressure taken by a person who did not know where the tube had to come out of the arm strap. I had to tell that person that it was on the wrong way. I have been in Parliament; of course I could tell them. What about the patients who do not know how to take blood pressure and may well get a wrong reading? That must change.
There should be training in the need to ensure that bedding is fresh and clean and on the turning of patients. Patient turning is very important on a hospital ward, as the Minister must know. However, it is very often the case that healthcare assistants have not been adequately trained in the way that a patient is turned on the bed. There must also be training in ward hygiene and in the standards required of a hospital loo. I have been in hospitals where the loos have been filthy. You would not think that there would be such filth in a hospital in the British National Health Service—things still in the bowl, floors not cleaned. I am not exaggerating. It is going on within the NHS.
A colleague and good friend in the House of Commons, Ann Clwyd, is doing some work on complaints, as the Minister will know. I go to her office regularly as we work in some of the same areas. I obviously cannot be involved in the work that she is doing on behalf of the Executive, but I do know about the speeches that she is giving in the House of Commons, involving personal testimony coming in from all over the country. She has read to the Commons from some of the letters she has received—not hundreds but, as the Minister will be aware, thousands—underlining all the complaints about the NHS. She has almost become the national clearing house for complaints. Many of those complaints are not about sophisticated areas of healthcare in hospitals. They are about very elementary things with which, with a little bit of thought, a healthcare assistant or a nurse could deal if only they had been properly trained in that area.
We know that the trade unions, particularly Unison, have made their voice very clear on this issue. They want training and registration. I understand that that is the position of the RCN. Most of the health service organisations want it and many healthcare assistants recognise the value of it. The Minister may not concede today but I plead with him to go back to his department and tell some of the civil servants who work with him on these matters that something has to change. I do not believe that this sort of laissez-faire attitude to this sector of healthcare is the answer. It is for Ministers in this Government to take action now and resolve the problem. There is a crisis and it has to be resolved.
My Lords, after that tour de force by my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours, there can be hardly anyone who does not believe that the training of healthcare assistants should be mandatory. Indeed, most of the public would be surprised to know that they are not trained or may at least get through without any training whatever.
I strongly support the amendments. They are a slightly less strict version of Amendment 16 from the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, in that it focuses heavily on the mandatory nature of the training, and that is of course the basic requirement. It omits the need for statutory registration, but the case for mandatory training is incontrovertible; I cannot see anyone believing that it is not.
I hope that the Government are open to this proposal. It is a valuable step in the right direction, even if we cannot have registration at the moment. I sincerely hope that the Minister will be open at least to this proposal, which has such merit and such strong support from almost everyone; I do not know of anyone who argues against it. I do hope that he might see this sympathetically.
My Lords, my interest is as the parent of two adult disabled children who receive publicly funded care. I did not speak to the earlier amendment on the need for the regulation of health and social care assistants, but I strongly believe that some such staff are currently poorly served by the lack of an adequate professional framework. Many have poor pay and variable conditions of work, and perhaps poor protection for themselves. They also have varying access to training, supervision and education.
To give one example, a care assistant was employed to work with an autistic person without receiving any autism-specific training, even though it was specified in a support plan. One would hope for some basic mandatory training that also specified what future training might be needed to support specific people with specific needs. That seems to be common sense.
My noble friend asked clearly for mandatory training in basic standards of care, and that these candidates should then be registered as suitably trained. It is a neat solution to the problems that we are facing and it makes very good sense. I have one more example: in the interests of more integrated health and social care, care assistants are often required to support disabled or elderly people to access healthcare, but they are not very good at doing that. The confidential inquiry into the premature deaths of people with learning disabilities found that it was often the lack of persistence of people who were supposed to be supporting learning-disabled people that led to a failure in follow-through of their healthcare investigations and treatment.
I have a question about how personal assistants employed directly by people who are in receipt of direct payments would fare under such a system. Disabled people would need assurance that the personal assistant applying to work with them also had basic skills. One would hope that disabled people employing personal assistants would be reassured by the knowledge that someone had been registered as having a certificate of basic standards of care. I add my support to these very good amendments, particularly Amendment 23A.
My Lords, I support these amendments on mandatory training. I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, has fought and fought for this. I served with her on the United Kingdom central council for nursing, midwifery and whatever it was. She pioneered the whole idea of improving nurse training, and it was very successful.
To follow on from the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, it is interesting that we now have two different parts to the arguments. One concerns the benefit to patients and the public, while the other concerns the benefit to the workers themselves, which I thought was a very interesting angle. It was Terry Leahy who said that he built his empire just by ensuring that all who worked for him felt good about themselves, and I thought that that was very interesting.
I am concerned about how the amendments are fashioned because I am not quite sure what we are talking about. Perhaps the noble Baroness or the noble Lord, Lord Patel, will clarify that for me. We talked about healthcare support workers, and I understand that such workers predominantly work in the NHS. However, subsection (2) of the proposed new clause refers to,
“a health or care support worker”.
I am not sure what a care support worker is, as opposed to a healthcare support worker. Does the support worker work, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, said, in people’s homes? Do they work in residential care? Are they covered by this or not?
The noble Baroness made another point, which I was also going to raise and on which I would like some clarification: what about the people who work for others who need care, through direct payments or personal budgets? Will this rule out those volunteers who often come in and sit with someone, who may do some minor tasks and may even do some relatively nursing-style tasks, such as putting in eye drops, which a member of the family would do? I should like to clarify who we are talking about.
My Lords, like my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours, I remain puzzled by the Government’s approach. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, for setting out a number of persuasive arguments for why there ought to be mandatory training for health and care support workers. There seems to be a general consensus around the House and no doubt the Minister will agree with it. My reason for supporting the amendment is that mandatory training is clearly very important, but it is inevitable that if you have mandatory training you have regulation; the two run together. Those who are proposing these amendments ought to recognise that there is an inevitability that if you have training then you must have a list of people who are trained; action has to be taken against those people who have been trained but are then found to be unsafe in dealing with vulnerable people; and there has to be a way of removing them from the list of those who have been trained that has been published. If you go down this route, one way or another you are clearly signing up to mandatory regulation, and a jolly good thing too.
Amendment 23A puts forward an eminently sensible suggestion for healthcare support workers to be certified to show that they have been trained in basic standards, with employers to register individuals who hold such certificates. We need to go back to the Francis report. Mr Francis is widely reported to be disappointed with the Government’s response to his report, and it is not hard to see why. His report commented on the absence of minimum standards in training and competence. This is compounded by huge variations in the approach of employers to job specifications, supervision and training requirements. That is why my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours has come across so many instances of poor-quality healthcare support.
The Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery noted that training for support workers was very variable and recommended that they should be better trained. In response, as the noble Earl told us earlier, the Government have commissioned Skills for Health and Skills for Care to work together to develop a code of conduct and minimum induction and training standards. We now know from the mandate issued by the Secretary of State to Health Education England that it is obliged to establish minimum training standards for healthcare assistants by spring 2014. At this point, I ask the noble Earl: how far does that go? Will it be mandatory for all entrants to the role of healthcare assistant to undertake such training? If that is so, will this extend to care assistants? What about existing health and care support workers? Will this training extend to them, or will it apply only to new people coming into the healthcare profession?
Under the proposals, how will employers know if their support workers have undertaken the minimum standard of training? Will a nationally recognised certificate be issued? Will a national list be established, indicating those who have undertaken such training? If there is not a list, does that not leave a big burden on employers seeking to check whether prospective staff have undertaken the minimum training requirement under the mandate? I come back to the point I made at the beginning: if a list is established, would that, in essence, not amount to a register? If there is such a list or register and it becomes clear that a support worker is unsuitable to care for vulnerable people, is there a way in which an organisation or employer could then apply to have such an individual removed from the list of people who have received the minimum level of training?
Having a certificate showing that someone has achieved a minimum level of training will be generally regarded as a certificate of an ability to practise. If there is such a certificate, there must be a way to remove that certificate if people are found to be wanting. In effect, once one begins to lay down minimum standards and to specify mandatory training, will there not be an inevitable step towards regulation? Amendment 23A poses those questions to the noble Earl. I hope that he will answer sympathetically.
My Lords, I first thank the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, for an interesting set of proposals and I am grateful for her thoughtful introductory remarks. I agree that ensuring the capability of the health and care support workforce is vital to delivering high-quality care to patients and service users across both health and social care settings. The issue is how we achieve this. Key requirements for delivering high-quality care can best be achieved by providers having the right processes in place to ensure they have the right staff with the right skills and the right training to deliver the right care in the right way to patients and service users.
The idea of statutory requirements can seem an attractive means of ensuring patient safety, yet Robert Francis’s report demonstrates amply that this in itself does not prevent poor care. I confess that I was a little surprised by the vehement support of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, for the idea of statutory regulation because it was an idea that his Government resisted for some time. I suggest that they resisted it for a number of reasons and they came to the conclusion that it is not as self-evident as some like to make out. That is certainly this Government’s position. This is not, as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, suggested, a laissez-faire attitude on the part of the Government. As we made clear in Patients First and Foremost, the initial response to the Francis inquiry, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals will ensure that all hospitals act to make sure that all healthcare assistants are properly trained and inducted before they care for people. I suggest that this is an important step forward.
The new Chief Inspector of Social Care will also ensure that all unregulated social care support staff have the induction and training that they need to meet their employers’ registration requirements, whatever those may be. The noble Lord suggested that money was at the root of the Government’s concern on this. No, it is not. The capability of care assistants and public confidence in them are our key concerns. Health Education England will work with employers to improve the capability of care assistants, including those in the care sector. In an earlier group of amendments, I mentioned the measures that we are taking to put these words into practice. There is an innovation fund, amounting at present to £13 million, for the training and education of unregulated health professionals. We are committed to a code of conduct and minimum training standards, as I have already mentioned.
Has anyone in the department ever sat down to work out the annual cost to the health service of paying for litigation defence and compensation to people who have made complaints successfully? What proportion of those complaints stem from failures on wards arising simply from a lack of training? Would that not be a useful exercise for the department? Although I know it is difficult to introduce this principle of candour, it might well be that if someone were to look at this and some honest assessments were made in hospitals, we might find out that a lot of it has to do with people simply not being trained properly.
I agree with the noble Lord. It would be an interesting exercise. If I can glean relevant facts from the National Health Service Litigation Authority, which is the holder of the corpus of information in this area, I would be glad to share it with noble Lords. We do not dispute that skills are an issue. They clearly are. That is why we have instigated the Cavendish review, but it is important that we set about this in the right way.
The Secretary of State has clearly stated in his mandate to Health Education England that it should work with employers to improve the capability of healthcare assistants. That will include the standards of training that they receive. In developing a strategy and implementation plan to achieve this, Health Education England will build on the Cavendish review, when it is before us, and the work of Skills for Health and Skills for Care on minimum training standards for health and care support workers.
The Government accept that the arrangements for induction, training and performance management of this workforce vary between providers. We do not duck the importance of training and I want to stress that. The Cavendish review has been tasked with reviewing how the training and support of healthcare and care assistants can be strengthened so that they provide safe and compassionate care to all people using health and social care services. The noble Lord, Lord Patel, is right that Amendment 23A and whatever recommendations emerge from the Cavendish review may not necessarily be mutually exclusive. At the same time, it surely makes sense for the Government to look at all these issues in the round before pronouncing one way or the other on prescribing specific arrangements around certification, new criminal offences or whatever the case may be.
I hope the noble Baroness will agree that the Government should be afforded the time to consider any recommendations from the Cavendish review and the respective roles of employers, commissioners, regulators and other bodies before taking further steps. At the same time, I hope that she will feel reassured by what I have said today and that Health Education England and the Government have taken sufficient steps in committing to the training and development of this workforce, and that she will feel able to withdraw her amendment.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for his summary and noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I think there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that this is a very important subject, which we cannot ignore. In his summary, the Minister suggested that the Government need to take this away and look at it. I think that we, too, need to take it away and look at it, and at what the Minister said. Will the Minister tell us when the Cavendish report is to be published? We understood that it was signed off two or three weeks ago, and we need to understand where it fits into the picture with the CQC. I thank the Minister for his comments. I will withdraw the amendment tonight on the basis that I will return to it later in the passage of the Bill. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 23 withdrawn.
Amendment 23A not moved.
Clause 87 : Objectives, priorities and outcomes
Amendments 24 to 27 not moved.
Clause 87 agreed.
Clause 88 : Sections 85 and 87: matters to which HEE must have regard
Amendments 28 to 30 not moved.
31: Clause 88, page 74, line 32, at end insert “to this end promoting the use of joint interprofessional education of clinical and social care staff where appropriate,”
My Lords, I must apologise for not moving this amendment in its proper place on the first day in Committee. That was due to a misunderstanding on my part, and I apologise.
I put down this probing amendment to draw attention to the importance and relevance of interprofessional education in preparing different health and social care staff to work well together. It is recognised across the board that caring for the increasing proportion of the population with long-term problems requires teamwork. This will be more effective and economically efficient if the different members of the team understand the role and approach of other members of the team with whom they need to collaborate, be they social workers, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists or doctors. At present, each healthcare worker may have no proper conception of the abilities and skills of those in another discipline, and that may lead to inefficient working, inappropriate decisions and learning by trial and error, if at all. One thinks perhaps of Stafford.
The duty to promote integration is much used in legislation but is mainly directed to administrators at a high level. For example, in last year’s Health and Social Care Act the NHS Commissioning Board and clinical commissioning groups were directed to take note of the need for integration, and in this Bill promoting integration is a requirement on local authorities. In Clause 88, in which this amendment sits,
“HEE must have regard to … the desirability of promoting the integration of health provision with health-related provision”.
The detail of how integration is to be achieved is left to the bodies concerned, although there may well be, and certainly should be, guidance, which I have not seen but which is perhaps to be published later. Perhaps the Minister can fill me in here. My amendment could perhaps be considered when formulating such guidance.
Interprofessional education needs to be carried out at educational or training institutions for clinical and social care professionals but also in continuing postgraduate education. Therefore, it is not only to Health Education England but to the General Medical Council, other professional bodies, royal colleges, universities, postgraduate deans and LETBs that this amendment is directed.
I do not have much time to describe the details of how IPE works, and this is not the right place to do so. Suffice it to say that it is not something I have invented off the top of my head but is a recognised discipline, led in this country by CAIPE, the Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education. It has branches in several countries on both sides of the Atlantic and has produced a number of publications describing the method and the institutions that have adopted it. It has also commissioned several evaluative studies which have confirmed its effectiveness. CAIPE is in touch with the Department of Health, and positive discussions have taken place. The Minister will probably know about them. In fact, I understand that CAIPE is due to meet Health Education England to discuss possible future collaboration. Interprofessional education is up and running in at least five universities, including Leicester, De Montfort, Bristol, Sheffield Hallam and Aberdeen.
I am aware that there are plenty of problems involved in getting different professions to receive co-ordinated education, not least logistics and timetabling. Students may not at first appreciate the need for understanding and co-operation, so do not always take kindly to what they may see as a diversion from their task of learning the skills needed for their chosen profession. However, once they meet each other, understanding can grow. Directors of education need to be convinced of the benefits of IPE. Its benefits are summarised well in a recent WHO task force report:
“After almost 50 years of inquiry, there is now sufficient evidence to indicate that interprofessional education enables effective collaborative practice which in turn optimizes health-services, strengthens health systems and improves health outcomes ... In both acute and primary care settings, patients report higher levels of satisfaction, better acceptance of care and improved health outcomes following treatment by a collaborative team”.
I shall be most interested to hear the Minister’s views on IPE and whether he agrees that it deserves to be more widely used in the National Health Service. I beg to move.
My Lords, I shall make a brief intervention in support of the desire of my noble friend Lord Rea to draw our attention to the importance of interprofessional education if we are to develop health and social care staff’s mutual respect, understanding and knowledge of each other’s professions that will bring about the collaboration, joint working and integration of care and support that we need. My noble friend describes this as staff knowing “how the other half lives”—in other words, staff knowing about each other’s services and how they operate, and being aware of boundaries, interdependence on achieving outcomes and competing agendas. He commends IPE because it provides an established model of collaboration and co-operation on the ground.
The amendment refers back to our earlier debate on integration and the need for multidisciplinary teamworking, and it will also be relevant to the debate that we will come to shortly on the importance of continuing professional development for healthcare workers. It adds promoting the use of joint IPE for clinical and social care staff as a matter that HEE must have regard to in relation to its responsibility for promoting the integration of healthcare and health-related provision.
My noble friend helpfully sent me a considerable amount of background information on his amendment in which, as a former HR professional, I was genuinely interested. It included extensive research by the Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education, which my noble friend referred to, supporting the effectiveness of interprofessional education and training. My noble friend also referred to discussions between CAIPE and Health Education England to explore HEE’s role in taking IPE forward and embedding it in professional curricula. This is to be welcomed. Two-thirds of UK universities with two or more undergraduate programmes in health and social care include IPE, so these discussions will be helpful. These programmes cover a wide range of professions, including nursing, social work, physiotherapy, pharmacy, clinical psychology and radiography—all professions that are increasingly required to work flexibly across different care settings as part of multidisciplinary teams.
The Nuffield Trust evaluation of the first year of the inner north-west London integrated pilot that I referred to earlier underlined the importance of staff in multiprofessional teams having a high level of commitment to the pilot as a key factor in improving collaboration across different parts of the local health and care system. However, the evaluation also reminds us of the international evidence that integrated care takes years to develop and that a minimum of three to five years is needed to show impact in relation to patient experience and outcomes. Culture change, moving from silo to collaborative working among professionals, is a slow process, however committed we are to trying to make it work. I look forward to the Minister’s response to my noble friend’s amendment.
My Lords, if I may say so, the noble Lord, Lord Rea, has explained his amendment in a very compelling way. Amendment 31 seeks to amend Clause 88(1)(h) so that Health Education England must have regard to the promotion of joint interprofessional education of clinical and social care staff where appropriate. As he is aware, much of the ground on these issues was covered in our earlier debates, when I hope I was able to reassure noble Lords that the Government take this issue very seriously. Clause 88 of the Bill, in listing the matters that Health Education England must have regard to in exercising its functions, is clear that Health Education England must support integration between health and care, and support staff so that they are able to work across different settings in health and social care.
In establishing Health Education England with a multiprofessional remit with responsibility for the development of all the professions, the Government have reinforced the importance of planning and developing staff in an interprofessional manner. As I mentioned, this approach is reinforced further in the Government’s mandate to Health Education England, which places a clear requirement on Health Education England, where appropriate, to develop multidisciplinary education and training programmes. I hope the noble Lord will agree that that is very much consonant with the principles that he was propounding in his contribution.
We entirely appreciate the importance of close working between the professions. I am sure that that is something Health Education England will consider carefully. I will write to the noble Lord if I can add any useful detail once I have had a chance to investigate further the issues that he raised and once I have discussed them with my officials.
However, I point out, as the noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler, did in our earlier debate, the importance of the recent commitment entered into by 12 of the national leaders of health and care, who signed up to a series of undertakings on how they will help local areas to integrate services. This was the document Integrated Care and Support: Our Shared Commitment—the first ever system-wide shared commitment. That document set out how local areas can use existing structures such as health and well-being boards to bring together local authorities, the NHS, social care providers, education, housing services, public health and others to make further steps towards integration. The ambition here is to make joined-up and co-ordinated health and care the norm. It works towards the first ever agreed definition of what people say good integrated care and support looks and feels like. That will be developed by national voices. There will be new pioneer areas around the country, to be announced in September of this year. One of the 12 partners of that shared commitment is Health Education England.
I hope that the noble Lord will be reassured by what I have said. I am entirely in tune with the spirit of his remarks. I will be happy to write to him if I have further and better particulars to impart, but for now I hope that he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for a very full reply and for the sentiments that he expressed. I shall read with interest his reply in Hansard, and I look forward to any further information that he may send me. I am sure that CAIPE will be very interested to read his remarks, too. I thank the Minister very much. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 31 withdrawn.
Amendment 32 to 33 not moved.
Clause 88 agreed.
Clause 89 : Advice
Amendments 34 to 36A not moved.
Clause 89 agreed.
Clause 90 : Local Education and Training Boards
Amendments 37 to 39 not moved.
Clause 90 agreed.
Clause 91 : LETBs: appointment etc.
Amendments 40 to 46 not moved.
Clause 91 agreed.
Schedule 6 agreed.
Clause 92 : LETBs: co-operation by providers of health services
Amendment 47 not moved.
Clause 92 agreed.
House resumed. Committee to begin again not before 8.38 pm.