Committee (2nd Day)
Relevant document: 1st Report from the Delegated Powers Committee.
Clause 85 : Ensuring sufficient skilled health care workers for the health service
13: Clause 85, page 72, line 33, at end insert “and having regard to the promotion of integration with care and support provision required by section 88(1)(h)”
My Lords, the purpose of this amendment is to require HEE to give attention to ensuring that, in educating and training staff for the NHS, it also ensures that, as far as possible, staff can work across the health/social care boundary in an integrated way. I welcome the fact that the Government have inserted into Clause 88(1) paragraph (h), which states that Health Education England must have regard to,
“the desirability of promoting the integration of health provision with health-related provision and care and support provision”.
That strengthens the Bill from its draft version, but the Bill should go further, hence my amendment.
I would like to ensure that when separate regulations are made under Clause 85 for particular groups of staff, Health Education England is also required to try to use particular regulations to promote integration in accordance with the Clause 88 provision. For example, if there are to be regulations on community nurses or healthcare assistants, the issue of training them or recognising qualifications or registration, Health Education England should act in a way that facilitates integration of services by enabling those staff to carry their training and qualifications across employment in as wide a range of settings as possible. In short, it is to help secure an integration through portability of training and qualifications provision.
We are very good at mouthing platitudes about integration and swearing undying fealty to that great god, but we are rather less good at removing the blockages to it. One of those blockages can be training and education that prevents staff from working in a range of settings, with qualifications that are not always recognised by a range of employers. We need to do our best when we have the opportunity to remove those blockages and secure more people who are equally at home working in a predominantly health or a predominantly social care setting and can easily move between those settings for the benefit of services users. These staff need to be alert also to the importance of integrating care for individual service users across organisational boundaries. I want to ensure that Health Education England is in no doubt that this approach is important for tomorrow’s workforce. That is what my amendment seeks to achieve.
I recognise that there may be better ways of reflecting my intentions in the Bill than the precise wording of my amendment. However, I think we should go further than the broad duty in Clause 88 and relate it specifically to regulation-making powers for particular groups of staff. I would certainly be happy to discuss other ways of achieving this in the best interest of patients. I beg to move.
My Lords, I speak in support of the amendment. It is absolutely vital from the point of view of the patient and the family that the workers with whom they come into contact have an understanding of the whole of their situation. The training and experience of such workers has to encompass that whole situation. For example, a person who is admitted to hospital quite suddenly with a stroke has contact with social care services, finance departments of local authorities, charities of all kinds, reablement services, private care providers, as well as all the health services concerned with the actual condition.
Most people in that situation have none of the hinterland that some of us in the House have. We start with knowledge that, for example, health and social care systems are differently funded and that there is no commonly understood framework for integration. Most people experiencing services do not have that pre-existing knowledge. If such a person is going to have the opportunity for choice, to which we are all committed, it is absolutely vital that the workers with whom they deal have the broadest range of knowledge and experience. People’s experience of health and social care does not come in discrete packages. It is vital that the experience of workers does not come in discrete packages either.
As this is the first day of Carers Week, I will add a further point about carers. The report published today by Carers UK, Prepared to Care?, shows that every day 6,000 people take on a caring responsibility, often without any preparation, information or advice. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will agree that the responsibilities of the workforce across all services should include training and awareness of the needs of carers. The promotion of integration contained in the amendment would also address that issue.
My Lords, I should like to say a few words. My experience in all this is very much as a layman and as a tri-weekly visitor to see my mother in a nursing home. In discussion with health assistants working in the nursing home, I have found that there is a transfer between hospital settings and social care, and there are clearly disciplines and learning requirements that apply in both settings. Sometimes, in either setting, you see people who would have benefited from the training available in the other setting, particularly in the area of elderly care. To take nutrition, cleanliness and the changing of bedding, clearly the same standards apply. Often, simple tasks require a common training programme. I hope that the Minister takes the amendment very seriously.
I entirely support the amendment on integration, particularly across the boundaries between acute and primary care. When we consider discharge policies and mechanisms, it is terribly important that those working in the acute sector understand what they need to look at to integrate with the services that will take over the care. There is division where, through the education programme, we need a holistic approach to the patient pathway.
My Lords, I very much support the intention behind the amendment. It points us where we should be going. It is evident that the way in which professionals are trained deeply affects how they carry out their duties for the rest of their lives. That is a sign of good education. The noble Lord, Lord Warner, has been pointing the direction in which health and social care will and must go. It is essential to lay down the basis so that professionals accept that it is the shape of things to come.
My Lords, for many years in medicine, there has been a move to try to ensure training in the community, but its implementation has been woeful. It has not been instigated as rapidly as people have been campaigning for over many years. I hope that the Government will look favourably on the spirit behind the amendment, although, in an odd way, the wording may be a little too restrictive. It is a very important move to ensure that, as more patients are moved out to be cared for in the community, community services can deliver what they need. With very sick people in the community, a different skill set will be needed from that which is currently available.
My Lords, I support my noble friend Lord Warner’s amendment. There will of course be further debate on integration in the wider context of the Bill, but the amendment is important because it underlines that Health Education England must have the strategic overview and understanding of the workforce requirements across the boundaries of health and social care if it is to undertake its role effectively.
Our stakeholder meetings have shown that there is considerable concern among stakeholders on that issue. They want the links between HEE and the social care sector to be more explicit. The noble Earl’s reassurances last week in that regard concerning Clause 88 were helpful, and I look forward to hearing from him further on how HEE is to work with integrated care delivery. I hope that he will concede that my noble friend’s cross-reference in his amendment to Clause 85 is necessary, because it links the HEE’s duty in Clause 88 to have regard to promoting integration to its key role of ensuring that there are sufficient skilled healthcare workers available.
The Health Education England mandate acknowledges that the future needs of the NHS, public health and care system will require a greater emphasis on community, primary and integrated health and social care. HEE is essential in that. Staff must be trained and developed in the skills that are transferable between different care settings and in working in cross-disciplinary teams in a range of different health and support settings. It must also work closely with the social care sector by developing common standards and portable qualifications across the NHS, public health and social care systems. The local LETB role, linking up with the health and well-being boards, is particularly important in that respect.
It is worth briefly mentioning two recent reports on integration, both of which, among other things, reinforce how much awareness and understanding of each other’s roles must take place for integrated services to happen and to be delivered. The shared commitment statement under the National Collaboration for Integrated Care and Support was drawn up by an impressive mix of national partner organisations, including government departments, the HEE itself, regulatory bodies, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, National Voices and other stakeholder groups. It pledges to help,
“local organisations work towards providing more person-centred, coordinated care for their communities”.
There is not time to go into detail, but National Voices’ A Narrative for Person-centred Coordinated (“Integrated”) Care, which sets out what integrated care and support looks like from an individual perspective, for both the cared-for and for carers, is a powerful vision for the future. It underlines how closely staff across primary, community, NHS and social care will have to work if this is to be achieved. The section of the narrative on communication describes professionals talking to each other, and patients always knowing who is co-ordinating their care, always being informed about what is going on, and having one point of contact. This in itself would be nirvana to most patients, service users and carers.
The recently published Nuffield Trust report, Evaluation of the first year of the Inner North West London Integrated Care Pilot, looks at developing new forms of care planning for people with diabetes and people over the age of 75. It underlines the importance of staff having a high level of commitment to the pilot and to the care planning process in particular. Initial results show that work on care planning and multidisciplinary groups resulted in improved collaboration across the different parts of the local health and social care system.
On public health, the HEE mandate itself states:
“The health of people in England will only improve in line with other comparable developed countries when the entire NHS, public health and social care workforce genuinely understands how their services together can improve the public’s health”.
Does the Minister accept that the HEE mandate supports the case for the Bill to include an explicit reference on the overall strategic context?
HEE’s role is to provide national leadership for workforce training, planning and development, ensuring that we have skilled, committed staff in the right place, in the right specialities and numbers. We need to meet these challenges of the future and of the changing face of healthcare provision. How to ensure an integrated approach to education and training across the NHS, public health and social care is a very strategic issue. I hope that the Minister will reassure the House on this by responding positively to the amendment.
My Lords, integration between health and social care is a strong theme of the Bill, and the Government take it very seriously. I very much agreed with a great deal of what the noble Lord, Lord Warner, and others said on that topic.
First, to deliver integrated care, it is important that local planning is aligned and is mutually reinforcing. That applies also to the planning of education and training. As Members of the Committee are well aware, the future needs of the NHS and the public health and social care system will require a greater emphasis on community, primary and integrated health and social care than in the past. An understanding is required of working in cross-disciplinary teams and working to break down barriers between primary and secondary care.
The mandate the Government published a couple of weeks ago gave Health Education England a clear remit to ensure that it trains and develops a workforce with skills that are transferable between these different care settings. The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Warner, seeks to amend Clause 85 to require HEE to have,
“regard to the promotion of integration with care and support provision”,
when it performs its duty under that clause of ensuring that there are sufficient skilled healthcare workers for the purposes of the health service. As the noble Lord is well aware, Clause 88, which lists the matters that Health Education England must have regard to in exercising its functions in Clauses 85 and 87, already includes a requirement at subsection (1)(h) that Health Education England must support,
“integration of health provision with health-related provision and care and support provision”.
Subsection (1)(i) requires Health Education England to support staff to be able to work across different settings. These provisions were added to the Bill at the recommendation of the Joint Committee following pre-legislative scrutiny. Although Health Education England does not have a direct remit for the social care workforce, it will be expected to work closely with the social care sector at local and national level to ensure that workforce plans align with the training and development of the healthcare and public health workforce.
To support the development of this integrated approach, Health Education England needs to work with partners across health and care to develop common standards and portable qualifications. This must make it easier for staff to work and move between settings and should build on existing work, such as skills passports and national minimum training standards. Health Education England will work closely with the sector skills councils, Skills for Health and Skills for Care, nationally and through the local education and training boards, to ensure that workforce development is co-ordinated and integrated.
Let us consider a private home in the social care sector that is owned by an individual who, let us say, has 10 healthcare assistants in that home. How will this new authority be able to ensure that those people are properly trained? My noble friend’s amendment at least tries to insert into the Bill wording that would in part have covered that. How will this new body be able to ensure that those assistants are getting the necessary training?
The noble Lord’s question relates specifically to private sector organisations, such as care homes, and the broad answer to it is exactly as I have tried to outline. Health Education England will make it its business to ensure, by working with the sector skills councils in social care, that the training that healthcare assistants and care assistants receive is fully aligned and consistent, and that it can more and more ensure that people can transfer from one sector to another. The issue of continuing professional development for somebody who is already working in such a setting is, of course, a separate issue, and we will come on to debate continuing professional development. However, that is the broad answer. As the noble Lord rightly said in his earlier contribution, all this will be increasingly important as more health training shifts into the community and into social care settings. We will see delivery of this training in a variety of settings, not just in the public sector.
To answer a question posed by the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, about what HEE will be doing to support the needs of carers, Clause 89(2)(c) means that HEE must ensure that it obtains,
“advice on the exercise of its functions from … carers”.
I hope that that gives her reassurance that the role of carers will be every bit as much in the sights of HEE as its other duties.
There is a further plank to this structure, and it is one which was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler, whose contribution I listened to with great respect and agreement. The Bill places a clear duty on local education and training boards to consult health and well-being boards on their education and training plans. As the vehicle for strengthened partnership working across health and the local government and public health sectors, health and well-being boards will be well placed to reflect local priorities that need to be supported through workforce education, training and development.
The importance of multidisciplinary training was highlighted in the Government’s mandate to Health Education England. Although it will always be necessary to deliver discrete training programmes for many professions, there will be an increasing need to deliver healthcare in multidisciplinary teams, and the delivery of training should reflect this. Where appropriate it should incorporate working in multiskilled teams reflecting care pathways, rather than exclusively professional or staff groupings.
I hope that, with those remarks, the noble Lord, Lord Warner, is reassured that the Government fully support the spirit of his amendment. I hope that he has also gained a sense that, more than simply the spirit, we are pursuing the letter of what everybody wants to see: a much greater degree of integration of training and education in these sectors.
I am grateful to the Minister for his remarks and I take them very seriously. I do not wish to be churlish, but I may be tempted along that path a little way.
Clause 85, as I understand it, is a regulation-making power. It seems to envisage that the Government of the day will from time to time make regulations that relate to very specific groups of staff. I have read the provision carefully, and it could presumably make regulations that exclude particular groups of staff. Somewhere along the way, there is a very real possibility that we will get regulations that cover particular groups of staff in a very specific manner. I am particularly interested in those groups of staff who work at the sub-professional level—the healthcare support staff. As my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours said, these are very much the people who work across both these settings. At the moment, I cannot see why it will do harm—indeed, it is likely do some good—if we require this regulation-making power to take account of the kinds of issues which foster integration that I and other noble Lords have spoken of. The Minister mentioned the mandate. I know that mandates are extraordinarily fashionable at the moment, but mandates come and mandates go. Regulations tend to have a bit more sticking power than mandates, which might get out of date or move out of fashion.
I think that there is an issue here. I would probably be more reassured if the noble Lord could write to me, and send a copy to other Members who have spoken in this debate, on which groups the Government envisage covering in regulations under Clause 85(2).
I would be happy to write to the noble Lord and other noble Lords on this topic. Perhaps I may add one final comment. If we were to go down the road proposed in this amendment, by providing a cross-reference to Clause 88(1)(h) in Clause 85, it could suggest that consideration of this factor alone takes priority over other factors. We want to avoid the risk of creating any perceived hierarchy in the matters to which Health Education England must have regard in the exercise of its function under Clause 85(1).
Amendment 13 withdrawn.
Amendments 14 and 15 not moved.
Clause 85 agreed.
16: After Clause 85, insert the following new Clause—
“Regulation of healthcare and care assistants
(1) HEE shall establish and maintain a register of qualified healthcare assistants and care assistants.
(2) HEE shall, from time to time—
(a) establish the standards of proficiency necessary for admission to the register being the standards it considers necessary for safe and effective practice under the register; and(b) prescribe the requirements to be met as to evidence of good health and good character in order to satisfy HEE that an applicant is capable of safe and effective practice as a healthcare assistant or care assistant.(3) Regulations may prescribe—
(a) access to the register;(b) the process of application to and acceptance on the register;(c) the process of registration and readmission;(d) deemed registration of EEA health care assistants and care assistants;(e) lapse of registration;(f) approved qualifications;(g) EEA qualifications; and(h) fitness to practice under the register.(4) HEE shall, before carrying out duties prescribed in subsections (1) and (2), consult—
(a) the Secretary of State;(b) the Care Quality Commission;(c) such other persons, or other persons of such a description, as may be prescribed; and(d) any other person it considers appropriate.(5) “A healthcare assistant” is an individual who provides personal care for the health service, but who is not—
(a) a carer as defined under this Act;(b) a healthcare worker currently registered with the General Medical Council or Nursing and Midwifery Council; or(c) any other healthcare worker as may be prescribed. (6) A “care assistant” is an individual who provides personal care for the purposes of adult social care, but who is not—
(a) a carer as defined under this Act;(b) a healthcare worker currently registered with the General Medical Council or Nursing and Midwifery Council; or(c) any other healthcare worker as may be prescribed.(7) “Adult social care”—
(a) includes all forms of personal care and other practical assistance for individuals who, by reason of age, illness, disability, pregnancy, childbirth, dependence on alcohol or drugs, or any other similar circumstances, are in need of such care or other assistance, but(b) does not include anything provided by an establishment or agency for which Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills is the registration authority under section 5 of the Care Standards Act 2000.”
My Lords, I bring this amendment before the Committee because, as we all know, there are huge numbers of very frail people, usually older people, often with multiple conditions, in our hospitals and care homes, and indeed in the community now. The numbers are growing. For all sorts of reasons—I think that some of them could be tracked back to the European working time directive—nurses are doing more and more complex tasks in the care that they provide, some of it electronic, that very often removes them from the day-to-day care of some of these very frail people. The same applies in care homes. The care that is provided is very often not provided by qualified nurses but by healthcare assistants or care assistants. There are many of those people who are fantastically caring. They have a natural ability to relate to the patients that they deal with or the residents in care homes. However, a lot of the dreadful cases that we read about in the newspapers take place because unqualified and unregistered care assistants are looking after people without the necessary training and without the necessary standard of care being insisted upon. This is extremely worrying.
We have heard a lot about dehydration or malnutrition and about a lack of dignity and respect. That is terrible, whoever is providing the care, but it is even worse somehow if the care is provided by people who are neither registered nor trained adequately and cannot be blamed for the fact that complex and difficult care situations are thrust upon them and they are landed with residents that they do not know how to care for adequately.
The amendment asks HEE to establish and maintain a register of qualified healthcare assistants and care assistants. If we could get there, we would then begin to have a remedy for some of the awful cases that we read about. We would know that people were fit to practise under the register and that there would likely be fewer cases of what can, unfortunately, amount to abuse.
When this system goes wrong in our country, we often learn that it is due to people who are not trained, qualified or registered being given enormous responsibilities. I would be pleased to know if the Minister agrees with me that this amendment would be of enormous benefit to patients and residents.
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness on the enormous amount of work that has clearly gone into this amendment and on the way that she introduced it, drawing on a lifetime’s experience in this field. My one reservation is about having to consider what the fundamental purpose of Health Education England is. As I see it, if HEE works well, then in future it will be the engine that delivers a better healthcare workforce in England, thereby improving the quality of care for patients. It is responsible for the education, training and personal development of all NHS staff and for recruiting, from our schools and into our universities, suitable people to carry on these tasks within the NHS. It is employer-led and it is there to provide the right workforce with the right skills and values, in the right place and at the right time, to better meet the needs and wants of patients.
The NHS has more than 300 different specific jobs and more than 1,000 employers nationwide, and the workforce needs to be educated and trained to exacting standards. Its task now is to prepare students for a very different NHS in the future: more care out of hospitals, more focus on long-term conditions, greater integration of health and social care, and new technology and techniques, all of which require planning and changes to curricula, as well as more of a focus on student choice towards NHS needs. It has an enormously difficult and comprehensive job to do. As I understand it, Health Education England accepts and supports the concept of mandatory training for healthcare assistants and the introduction of some sort of certification scheme that would allow HCAs to prove that they had attained the required levels of education and training.
It is a matter for Parliament to decide a view on regulation that goes beyond that recommended by the Government, but I do not believe that Health Education England would be an appropriate regulator. It is not created to have such a role, and that would not sit effectively with its core role of education and training. Therefore, although I very much understand the spirit of the noble Baroness’s amendment and appreciate the knowledge that she brings to the subject, I do not think that HEE is actually the tool to do this with.
My Lords, I, too, welcome the principle behind the noble Baroness’s Amendment 16 but I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege, that Health Education England may not be the right place for this. At various times in our debates I have banged on about the regulation of healthcare assistants, because not only would it reassure employers and patients that standards were being met but being on a register gives individuals a degree of self-respect and sense of identity and it boosts their morale. In a way, it is a pity that we got rid of state enrolled nurses some time ago when we moved to university-educated nurses. In effect, that has been very successful and nurses have done very well—they do a marvellous job—but we have left a gap where the SENs were.
Amendment 23, which moves slightly along this same route, may be as far as we can go but, if we do have mandatory training, that will inevitably mean that someone has to produce a register of those who have received such training. This may not be quite the right place for it but we might get there by another route.
My Lords, I rise briefly to support my noble friend Lady Greengross. It is not that her sentiments about registration are not right but we debated this at great length during the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill and to a degree I felt that we lost the battle about registration then. What is now important is Amendment 23A, which, with all due respect, is a better amendment because it focuses much more on training and the responsibility of the employer. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege, that HEE is not the right organisation to be a regulator of registration.
My Lords, I refer to the register and my charitable interests. I am also the named carer for an adult with a direct payments care package.
I support the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, although I must tell her that I have listened very carefully and I share some of the concerns about which is the right body. However, the argument for the principle of her amendment is well made.
The Bill gives Health Education England responsibilities for ensuring that the health workforce has the necessary skills to meet the needs of patients. That is valuable but there is a key omission concerning the registration of healthcare assistants and care assistants. Although those doing this work provide the vast majority of personal care to people receiving health and social care services and are fundamental to promoting and protecting service users’ dignity and respect, there have been—as we have debated on many occasions in this Chamber—far too many concerning reports in the recent past. These reports have indicated that something needs to be done at all levels and in all structures in healthcare, whether in hospitals, care homes or people’s own homes.
The Francis report clearly showed the failings at Mid Staffordshire Hospital and, while it identified the trust management as responsible for the shocking quality of care, it outlined incidences of poor care and inaction by healthcare assistants in reporting concerns. At Winterbourne View, people with severe learning disabilities were treated with an appalling lack of dignity by care assistants and nursing staff, some of whom have since been given prison sentences. A number of reports looking at dementia care in hospitals have found unacceptable variations in practice and high levels of dissatisfaction, alongside incidences of unacceptable care. A number of reports looking at home care provided to older people, including the Alzheimer’s Society reports Support. Stay. Save. and Home Truths, as well as an inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, indicate that care assistants lack the time to provide good-quality care to service users. There continue to be isolated incidences of reported poor care and abuse of older people in care homes. I shall not continue the list. Sadly, it goes on, and we see new reports in newspapers even today. It is so frustrating that we raise these issues and try to do things about them but they still continue.
I say to the Minister that I understand that the Government do not like to be seen as a regulator, particularly an overregulator, but one of the beefs I have had with Governments of all political persuasions in the past decade has been that for some reason as legislators we often appear to legislate for things that we should actually leave well alone and that do not need regulating, but then there are glaring omissions, such as this, where there is an obvious need to regulate, yet we say that we do not want to be seen as regulators and therefore do not take the necessary action. I say “Courage” to my noble friend. The time is now to regulate in this area. We have talked about it long enough and I hope that he will have the courage to take this forward. He is the ideal person to do so. I have seen his courage in many other areas of healthcare over the years, so I am convinced that he could do it.
We tend to focus on the elderly, but more and more people look to have care packages within the environment of their own home. There are thousands of people who are not elderly but who are just as vulnerable. People with learning disabilities, autism, chronic mental health conditions or chronic physical conditions have packages of care in their home. The grey line between what is healthcare and what is social care merges even more as these packages become much more complex and as technology and medication enable more people to maintain a degree of supported independent living at home. We tend to think in boxes. When people living at home in these circumstances need to engage the help of care assistants, whether for healthcare or social care, those assistants come through the statutory services or through agencies, and we like to think—as a sort of comfort cushion—that all the checks have been made to ensure not only that these people have been trained but that they are fit to do such a job. There are also a lot of people and their carers who have to employ others directly to carry out these services for them.
In conclusion, we saw appalling cases at Winterbourne View and we know that some of those people are currently serving prison sentences. When they come out of prison, I want to know that if you are suddenly seeking for the first time to employ someone to look after your mother, father or adult child, although there are Criminal Records Bureau checks, you are not going to find that people who left the service for being cruel and carrying out illegal acts on previous patients are back in the system and that you and your loved ones are vulnerable to them. For that purpose, in particular, whether this amendment finds favour with Health Education England or another body—the Nursing and Midwifery Council, for example—I urge my noble friend to consider that now is the time for registration and regulation to ensure that people are safe in their own homes and in areas where they are feeling extremely vulnerable.
My Lords, I will make a few comments on the contributions made so far by noble Lords. During the passage of the Health and Social Care Act I was very strongly in favour of the regulation of healthcare support workers. We have moved on in time, and in terms of the setting up of Health Education England and the role that the other bodies are taking. There is no doubt about all the points made by my noble friend Lady Greengross, and those about Winterbourne View and people being given prison sentences; most of them were registered nurses, not support workers. We want to ensure the safety of patients. For various reasons the Government now take the view that regulation is not possible through the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Regulation is possibly a step too far at this stage.
The Francis report recommended the creation of a registration system, under which no unregistered person should deliver care to a patient, whether that be in the community or in hospital. I agree that we need to have some form of certification, and some form of safeguard that will ensure that anyone delivering care will be able to be examined. Amendment 23A, which is grouped with Amendment 23, further sets out my view, which is shared by the noble Lords, Lord Willis of Knaresborough and Lord Patel, that basic training should be given with certification, and that it is important that employers take that into account.
My Lords, from what I hear and from what I have been told, the problem seems to be that no one wants to do this job. A number of organisations have been approached, and many of them have made it clear that registration would be an impossible task. However, when you talk to healthcare assistants in nursing homes or wherever, you find that among them are some who strongly believe in it, because they want to see weeded out the people who they believe should not be practising. If they want it, and they believe that it potentially defends their professional position, why can they not be given some organisation, some kind of structure to which they can belong and be registered with, which would give them confidence within their working conditions?
I understand that the Government’s response will be the vetting and barring scheme. However, despite that scheme, there is still strong support for the principle of a registration scheme. Perhaps the Minister might give his response to that, setting out the reasons why some people do not have confidence in this vetting and barring system.
Finally, in the event that we do not make progress on this matter during the course of this Bill, the best way to deal with it might be to refer it to the Liaison Committee when it is next considering applications for ad hoc committees. Perhaps those who are interested in this subject can make a joint application to the Liaison Committee to set up a House of Lords inquiry into what the blockage has been historically, what the benefits would be, and to look at the way forward in the future.
My Lords, as has been claimed in the course of this short debate, this amendment should be seen in the same context as Amendments 23 and 23A. However, together they have one common difficulty, which I think has been highlighted. The first point they make is that there should be proper training and education in this area, which is absolutely right; it should be a matter for Health Education England. Secondly, there is still a residual concern, which is very real, that the presence of training does not always guarantee that the care will be of the level and quality that we reasonably expect. So there may be a separate question about imposing some degree of regulation on employers. It is hinted at in Amendments 23 and 23A that employers could suffer a liability were they to put into the field, be they agencies or statutory employers, someone who evidently is unable to provide a decent quality of care. So the separation of these two issues is what I propose.
I would like to ask the Minister a question. I do so agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Browning, over Winterbourne; we do not want any more Winterbourne Views—and they can happen in any part of the country.
My question to the Minister is whether he would agree with me that, when it comes to crisis intervention and physical restraint techniques, all front-line staff should receive a national standard of training to deliver the best possible quality care and health services. Undermining best practice in this area is driven by three elements: a fragmented, unregulated training provider sector; procurement pressures, and commissioners’ and regulators’ roles in quality monitoring; and practice application. The people who have to be restrained are very vulnerable and, usually, mentally ill in some way. Is it really suitable for untrained people to do this job?
My Lords, the noble Baroness takes us back to our debates last year on the regulation of health and social care support workers. We had some excellent discussions but, as the noble Baroness, Lady Browning, said, the Government set their face against the statutory approach without convincingly explaining to the House why they did not favour such a move. As far as I can see, the Government’s main objection appears to be cost; they are relying on better training and a voluntary register. But as the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, pointed out, this may not be sufficient. As she says, unqualified care assistants are looking after very vulnerable people without the necessary training and support, and are being placed in a very vulnerable position. This is probably not the time to debate the loss of state-enrolled nurses, but my noble friend Lord Turnberg is absolutely right to say that the essential removal of the SEN grade has left a gap which needs to be filled.
My noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours points out that we are absolutely reliant on support workers to provide care. Many or most of them are actually very dedicated, but they are not being given sufficient tools to do the job effectively. One has to have great sympathy with the noble Baroness in her amendment.
Some noble Lords have said that it is not readily apparent why Health Education England ought to be the regulator. I certainly sympathise with that point, but no doubt the noble Baroness could easily substitute either the NMC or the HPC. We could no doubt come back to the question of which regulator it should be. The HPC has been somewhat acquisitive in past years in adding professions to its register, and would no doubt be keen to add healthcare and social care support workers to the large number of people whom it registers at the moment. As for the NMC, we understand that it has been through some difficulties in leadership and has a backlog of cases to be heard by its regulatory committees. But it has new leadership, and I am confident that it will be able to get through those problems—and, if it was chosen, it could also register health and support care assistants if that were to be required. So I do not think that there is an organisational issue in terms of difficulty in organising the regulation of support workers.
The Francis report has been mentioned by a number of noble Lords. This compelling report says:
“A voluntary register has little or no advantage for the public. Employers will not be compelled to employ only those on the register although they could be incentivised to do so”.
“It is not generally those who would seek voluntary registration who are the concern. It is those who will or would not seek voluntary registration but are still able to obtain employment who will be in contact with vulnerable patients”,
and those patients may not be appropriately protected. The Francis report says that this,
“need not be costly and can be self-financing”.
Amendments 23 and 23A, which we are going to come to, are very helpful but they do not do the job of regulation. Does the noble Earl think that the Government should reconsider their position in the light of the Francis report and of today’s debate?
My Lords, like my noble friend Lady Cumberlege, I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, for her very carefully crafted amendment. It seeks to extend compulsory statutory regulation to healthcare assistants and care assistants and to make further amendments to legislation to account for this. I want first to acknowledge the crucial role played by healthcare and care support workers in the delivery of high-quality care to patients and service users throughout the country. That much is a given. The vast majority of workers give the very highest quality of care and are relied on and valued for the way they improve people’s lives. However, we have all seen evidence that a minority let patients down. This is a cause for concern and it is right that there is discussion about how we can ensure consistent, high standards of care.
My noble friend Lady Cumberlege made some very compelling points on the terms of the amendment but on the wider issue of principle the Government do not believe that the case for regulation is proven. Compulsory statutory regulation is not, of itself, an effective way to assure the quality of care by these workers and it can detract from the essential responsibility of employers to ensure that any person they appoint is suitably trained and competent for the role.
There are already existing tiers of regulation that protect service users, including the standards set by the Care Quality Commission and the Disclosure and Barring Service. We also need to be clear that professional regulation is not a panacea. It is no substitute for good leadership at every level and proper management of services. It can also constrain innovation and the availability of services. Experience clearly demonstrates that a small number of those workers who are subject to compulsory statutory regulation from time to time fail to ensure that their practice is up to date and delivered to the standard that we expect. In these circumstances it is too often the case that regulation can react only after the event.
The placing of hundreds of thousands of individuals on a list would not, of itself, ensure that we never again see the appalling failings in care highlighted by the Francis report into Mid Staffordshire or, indeed, Winterbourne View. Strong and effective leadership of the workforce is where the focus for improvement should lie. Employers and managers who are closest to the point of care must take responsibility for ensuring standards.
We also recognise that we need to facilitate employers to appropriately employ, delegate to and supervise health and social care assistants. To this end, as I have previously mentioned, we commissioned Skills for Health and Skills for Care to develop a code of conduct and minimum training standards for these groups in England.
In addition, we have announced the Cavendish review to consider what can be done to ensure that all people using services are treated with care and compassion by healthcare and care assistants in NHS and social care settings. The Nursing and Care Quality Forum has been established to help all those involved in providing nursing and care in all care settings to deliver the fundamental elements of good care and achieve their ambition of providing the very highest quality of care. That is in part an answer to the point made very powerfully by the noble Baroness, Lady Masham.
The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, suggested that these workers are not being given the tools to upskill themselves. We want to ensure that all healthcare assistants provide safe, effective and compassionate care, and we have already announced a number of measures to support this, including a £13 million innovation fund for the training and education of unregulated health professionals, the publication of a code of conduct and minimum training standards for healthcare and care assistants, and a review of induction training by the CQC. This is work in progress.
Having made these points, I want to reassure in particular the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, that we have an open mind as to the range of measures that need to be put in place. However, before we can take a rounded view of what those measures should be, we need to take account of the recommendations that flow from the Cavendish review. I suggest to the noble Baroness that that is the most sensible approach.
No, the terms of reference encompass the core concern of the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, which is the competence and skills of this sector of the workforce. That gets to the heart of the concerns of my noble friend Lady Browning around safety and the rest. The Cavendish review will point the way to a number of ideas that can move us in a positive direction.
My Lords, perhaps I may ask the noble Earl a question before he sits down because I am getting increasingly puzzled by this debate. I agree with him that a list does not of itself do very much to protect the public, particularly if it is a list of apples, oranges, bananas, pears, cherries or whatever—and this is a list of people with different qualifications or experiences. However, the whole point about HEE is that it is meant to be a game-changer and to standardise some of the training for particular groups. Is it the Government’s view that the term “healthcare assistant” will start to mean the same in Cornwall as in Cumbria, because HEE has defined the training for those covered by that terminology to be the same wherever the person is trained?
That indeed is the ambition whereby there should be consistency of standards throughout the country and people should know precisely what those standards are. The problem with this sector of the workforce is that the standards have not properly been defined until now—hence the work that Skills for Health and Skills for Care are doing. However, we will see from that work and the work of Camilla Cavendish where the gaps are and where we need to focus our attention. The noble Lord is certainly right to say that once we have these standards in place, Health Education England will be responsible for ensuring that they are properly promulgated and rolled out.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for giving way. I appreciate his point about the responsibility of employers. They are immensely important. However, would he be prepared to extend the language of responsibility to liability, either of a fiscal, legal or right-to-practise nature? I am not asking for a detailed answer, but it would be a shift that many of us feel would be moving in the right direction.
As a result of the Francis report, we are indeed looking at the whole question of the liability of employers in the NHS as much as anywhere else. No doubt we shall be debating those issues when we reach Part 2 of the Bill. However, I can reassure the noble Lord on that point. We have here a vital segment of our health and social care workforce. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross—
I am not aware of those concerns, and I apologise to the noble Lord as I meant to pick that up. I was slightly taken aback by his comment. Of course, I shall take advice on that point and I would be very happy to talk to the noble Lord outside the Committee on this matter. I have certainly not been made aware that that service is deficient in any material way, but that it operates effectively to protect patients and the public.
Does the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, wish to intervene?
I conclude by saying to the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, that I hope she takes some encouragement from the work that is in train, and that she agrees with me that it is right to take stock after we see the recommendations flowing from the Cavendish review later in the year. No doubt that can inform our deliberations on Report. I hope that, in the mean time, she will feel able to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken for accepting that the principle that I was arguing about is correct and that there is a need for something to be done. I think we all recognise that, too often, people receive rather poor care. It is very hard to pin down what is going on because we do not have the mechanism to do so.
I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege, for saying that the principle of what I said was right. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Browning, and all noble Lords who have spoken for agreeing that something really needs to be done. In my rather simplistic way of looking at things, I think that training leads to a qualification that will lead to a registration. It is as simple as that. Getting the training right would eventually lead to a professional approach of which people could be more proud and which would give them the self-respect that they need and, in the majority of cases, deserve. That would also give us the knowledge that, when things go wrong, there is a mechanism that will stop them from getting worse.
I also agree with the Minister that the Cavendish review could be the way forward and perhaps this is pre-empting something that we will have to wait a while to achieve. I feel very strongly that this has gone on for far too long; the anxieties are really great and something must be done. I hope I can work with my noble friend Lady Emerton so that somehow we can speed things up a little. In the mean time, I thank the Minister for his comments and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 16 withdrawn.
Clause 86 : Quality improvement in education and training, etc.
17: Clause 86, page 73, line 5, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—
“(b) the use of research evidence to ensure the rapid uptake of innovations into practice”
This group of amendments, to which I have attached my name, is all about putting into practice the brave words we have heard about the need to place research at the centre of what the NHS does.
We have had the important and impressive inclusion in the NHS mandate to NHS England and CCGs of the duty to promote research, and we have had the recent publication of the Association of Medical Research Charities of a vision for research in the NHS with its three proposals. First, every patient should be offered the opportunity to be involved in research. Secondly, all NHS staff should be made aware of the importance of research. Thirdly, the NHS should conduct high-quality research and adopt innovation in healthcare rapidly. All the good intentions were spelt out in the earlier Bill and subsequently, but we seem to have lost sight of that in the current Bill.
Amendment 17 simply makes clearer what seems to be rather vague and perhaps less forceful in the current wording about accepting research evidence and putting innovations into practice. The Bill states that HEE must promote, which is a good word,
“the use in those activities of evidence obtained from the research”.
That has to be read several times to be understood. My amendment suggests something rather clearer, and what I hope is intended, which is,
“the use of research evidence to ensure the rapid uptake of innovations into practice”.
Amendments 20 and 32 aim to ensure that Health Education England also makes it clear that all who work in the NHS should understand and be able to play a part in research and innovation by including a new responsibility, to ensure that research and innovation are incorporated into the Bill. Amendments 37 and 39 point to similar responsibilities for the LETBs. My name is attached to these amendments, which are in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Willis, who unfortunately cannot be with us today because he is unwell. We wish him well. There is considerable danger that the LETBs in particular, dominated by local provider interests, will not unnaturally focus on their need to provide a clinical service and their requirement for sufficient numbers to fill their workforce needs. In so doing, they may not see that a service that is constantly evolving and changing needs a workforce that is fully switched on to the research agenda. They may not see that the future leaders of change—those who can undertake research and introduce new and better treatments year in, year out need to have their training needs met, too.
There are at least two types of need. The first is that of future academic clinicians, professors, senior lecturers, lecturers and the like in medicine, surgery, obstetrics and so on. The second is the need of all practising clinicians, be they doctors, nurses or technicians, if they are to integrate innovations and change into their practices. The academics need training programmes that are sufficiently flexible so that they can do their clinical training for some of the time and their research at others. They will almost certainly need to take three or more years out to do their PhDs, and they often need to do their purely clinical training over a longer period than others, as they slot periods of research into their clinical training.
Those going on to straight clinical practice—always the majority—need to understand what research entails, and will need to have some contact with research. Some may even take full time out for research, and in that way can appreciate new research findings as they come along. All those factors need to be considered by those in charge of education and training locally. I fear that unless something to that effect, as proposed in the amendments, is incorporated into the Bill, it will be so easy for it to slip out of view under the considerable pressure simply to provide services for today, with no thought for the needs of tomorrow.
I am not encouraged by the Department of Health’s document which is the mandate from the Government to Health Education England, in which the section headed “Flexible Workforce, receptive to research and innovation”—a brave heading—spells out what is intended. There is little here about how the intention of encouraging the development of a research-receptive workforce will be carried out. There is much about generalism, flexibility across service divisions and so on—all highly desirable—but nothing about producing those capable of doing the research and engaging in the clinical trials needed to make innovation possible. I hope these amendments will help to fill those gaps.
My Lords, I support these amendments. My name is attached to Amendments 17, 20 and 32 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, and to Amendments 37 and 39 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Willis of Knaresborough, who, as we have heard, was taken to hospital yesterday. I spoke to him in his hospital bed just before we started and he was beginning to feel better. I am sure we will want to wish him well.
I strongly support the amendment because, through the Health and Social Care Act, we gave prominence to the need to promote research and innovation in the health service, and it is right that we did that. It would be a pity now if the only gap in that duty would be for it not to apply to the key body, Health Education England, and the local education and training board committees. As the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, so eloquently put it, the amendments are about education and training by research, and about making sure that LETBs also have a responsibility to make sure that they conform to the functions of the HEE. They are all related to research, training, innovation, continuing training and research and supporting research. They cannot be wrong and I hope the Minister will accept them. They are well meaning and promote research further.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Turnberg and Lord Patel, for helping me with these amendments. The noble Lord, Lord Willis of Knaresborough, is unwell and may not be returning to us in time to help with the Bill. His twin passions are training and research, and Amendments 37 and 39 to Clause 90, which are all about the functions of LETBs, completely underpin that. I would be doing him a disservice if I did not ask the Minister to explore these areas when he sums up.
It is critical not only at a national level, with HEE, but at a local level, with the LETBs, that this area is not forgotten. Staff must understand not only the implications but all aspects of research. That must be plugged in at HEE and, with these amendments to Clause 90, at the LETB level.
I strongly support this group of amendments, the case for which has been ably made by my noble friend Lord Turnberg, the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and the noble Baroness, Lady Jolly.
The importance to the NHS of research and innovation has come under close scrutiny and debate in the House in recent times, under the Health and Social Care Bill, in the powerful debate of the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, earlier this year, and in the debate that we almost had in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Kakkar, on the life sciences industry’s important contribution to healthcare and to our economy.
Under the Health and Social Care Act, Labour fully supported placing duties on the Secretary of State, the NCB and CCGs to promote research. Indeed, my noble friends Lady Thornton and Lord Hunt proposed amendments to that Bill reinforcing the importance of research, and we were pleased to work with noble Lords across the House in strengthening these provisions. That is why amendments to Clause 86, which deals with quality improvement in education and training, are so important.
Amendment 17 deletes the current reference to HEE needing to promote,
“the use in those activities of evidence obtained from the research”,
and replaces it with a proactive reference to using this,
“evidence to ensure the rapid uptake of innovations into practice”.
Amendment 20 underlines the need for HEE,
“to secure that research and innovation are incorporated into education and training”.
This was a recommendation of the Joint Committee, which we fully support. All NHS staff should be equipped with the tools to understand and support research and to assess and use evidence to inform their decisions when caring for patients or supporting clinical staff. They also need to be able to make use of research throughout their careers—a point that my noble friend Lord Turnberg made strongly—and be familiar with the NHS research infrastructure, which can provide further help and support.
The recent survey by the Association of Medical Research Charities showed the challenges to be phased in in this regard. Some 91% of staff surveyed, including doctors and nurses, identified the barriers that they had experienced to taking part in research. Lack of time was the predominant reason given by respondents. Other reasons included funding, practical support and difficulties in navigating regulation. GPs are an important gateway for getting patients involved in research, but although a majority of GPs believes that it is important for the NHS to support research into treatments for their patients, only 32% felt that it was important for them personally to be involved. As AMRC emphasises, we still have a long way to go if the Government’s goal of every clinician being a researcher and every willing patient a research participant is to be achieved.
Amendment 32 to Clause 87 adds promoting innovation and research in clinical practice to the matters that the HEE should have regard to—a logical and crucial next step in our support for innovation and research under HEE’s national functions. Amendment 37 on the local functions that LETBs exercise on behalf of HEE makes the important cross-reference between Clause 90 and Clause 86, rather than Clause 84, on the issue of ensuring that there are sufficient skilled healthcare workers promoting research and the use of research evidence in the health service. We believe that if LETBs are performing other duties of behalf of HEE under Clause 90, there is no reason why they should not also promote research, obviously within the LETB area. Amendment 39 would confirm in legislation that HEE’s research duty applies to LETBs as a main function, and we strongly support that.
Throughout the debates on innovation and research, we heard continued concerns and frustrations at the often painfully slow, complex and bureaucratic process of getting innovation in care and treatment adopted in the NHS. There was frustration, too, that existing processes and pathways, such as conditional approval in the named patient schemes and the opportunities under existing legislation, are not being fully used. In the January debate, the Minister reminded us that it took an estimated 17 years for only 14% of new scientific discoveries to enter day-to-day clinical practice. That is why these amendments to ensure that HEE actively promotes innovation and research and carries that through in the education and training of healthcare workers needs to be supported by the Government. I look forward to the Minister’s response.
My Lords, there is no doubt that education and training can play an important role in creating a workforce that is research literate and innovative, with the skills required to diffuse the latest ideas and innovations. The noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, has focused our minds on some important goals in this area.
Through our investment in the education and training of health professionals, we must seek to ensure that our future practitioners know how to access evidence, use evidence and contribute to the national research enterprise. Developing a flexible workforce that is responsive to research and innovation is one of the key priorities that the Government have set for the Health Education England special health authority in its mandate. To answer the question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, Section 63(1) sets out an objective for Heath Education England to support clinical academic careers.
Amendment 17 would require Health Education England to promote the use of research evidence to ensure the rapid uptake of innovations into practice. Amendment 20 would require it to exercise its functions to secure that research and innovation are incorporated into education and training. Amendment 32 would require it to have regard to the desirability of promoting research and innovation in clinical practice when performing its duties under Clause 85(1) to ensure sufficient skilled workers and Clause 87(4) when setting its objectives, priorities and outcomes for education and training.
The Government recognise very clearly the importance of promoting research and innovation. That is why Clause 86(2) of the Bill requires Health Education England, in exercising its functions, to promote research and the use of evidence from research in education and training activity. In response to stakeholder views in consultation and a recommendation from the Joint Committee that examined the draft Bill, we have strengthened the wording so that it is a duty to promote research. This has been welcomed by stakeholders such as the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Association of Medical Research Charities. It also reflects, incidentally, the equivalent duties to promote research already placed on the Secretary of State, NHS England and clinical commissioning groups by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
The duty requires Health Education England to promote research activity in relation to its education and training functions, and the use of evidence obtained from that research, to secure continuous improvement in the quality of education and training. Those are pretty powerful provisions. I hope that noble Lords will appreciate from what I have said that Health Education England already has the necessary powers under Clause 86(2) to secure that research and innovation are fully incorporated into education and training.
I can reassure the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, that Health Education England and the local education and training boards will work closely with research and innovation partners such as the academic health science centres and academic health science networks to deliver the duty to promote research. I can also reassure him that Health Education England will ensure that local education and training boards support this agenda and delivery of the duty to promote research. I hope that the noble Lord will feel sufficiently reassured by that to withdraw the amendment.
I shall now respond to the two other amendments to which noble Lords have spoken. Amendment 37 would add to a local education and training board’s main functions the promotion of research and the use of research evidence in the health service. Amendment 39 would require a local education and training board to support Health Education England in exercising its function to promote research into matters relating to social care services, primary care services and other health services so far as it is exercisable. I wholeheartedly agree that the local education and training boards need to take a strong interest in research and the use of research evidence when planning, commissioning and quality assuring the delivery of education and training. As noble Lords know, we have placed the primary duty to promote research on Health Education England but, as committees of Health Education England, the LETBs will be required to support the national body in delivering the duty through their workforce planning and education and training functions. Therefore, we do not see that the amendment is necessary in that sense. Health Education England will ensure that the LETBs support the delivery of key national duties, such as those in Clause 86, to promote research, support the NHS constitution and improve the quality of education and training. I also point out in this context that the appointment criteria that the Health Education England special health authority has used to appoint the existing 13 local education and training boards require the LETB to demonstrate effective mechanisms for partnership working with academic health science centres and academic health sciences networks.
I am sure that noble Lords will also be glad to know that Health Education England and the LETBs are working with the National Institute for Health Research, headed by Professor Dame Sally Davies, to ensure appropriate investment in education and training to develop clinical academic careers and increase the number of staff accessing academic careers programmes across all clinical and public health professions.
I hope that noble Lords will feel reassured that the spirit of the amendments is one which we have already grasped and which is reflected in the Bill and that they will therefore feel able not to press the amendments.
My Lords, as always, the noble Earl gave some very reassuring words on this topic. I am not absolutely convinced that we do not need to strengthen the Bill a little more to reflect what he has enunciated, but, for the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 17 withdrawn.
Amendments 18 to 21 not moved.