Health and Social Care Bill

Memorandum submitted by Council of Deans of Health (HS 133)

1. The Council of Deans of Health is the representative voice of UK university health faculties providing education and research for healthcare professionals. The Council plays an influential leadership role in improving health outcomes through its integral role in developing an expert health professional workforce and utilises its collective expertise to inform innovative educational practice and translational research. The Council aims to Lead and inform health, higher education and research policies that impact on the development of an expert healthcare professional workforce and improved health outcomes across the UK and internationally.

2. We would like to draw your attention to what we believe are omissions in the Health and Social Care Bill 2011. As you are aware, the Government is currently consulting on the future of commissioning of education and training for the healthcare workforce. This consultation proposes the creation of Health Education England – a national body – and local networks, composed of healthcare providers, to commission education and training locally. Neither of these structures is included in the Health and Social Care Bill. This is understandable, given that they are still being consulted upon. However, the consultation lays down some legal duties that will be incumbent on healthcare providers. Given the process of change, it would appear that the new system of commissioning healthcare education and training will be in place before these duties have been made law. Therefore, we believe that these duties should be made law in the Health and Social Care Bill 2011. These duties are as follows:

‘a duty to consult patients, local communities, staff and commissioners of services about how they plan to develop their workforce;

‘a duty to provide data about their current workforce and future workforce needs;

‘a duty to cooperate in planning the healthcare workforce and in the planning and provision of professional education and training.’ [1]

3. Additionally, we believe that the Health and Social Care Bill should stipulate, as a legal duty, that any willing provider of healthcare within foundation trusts must provide sufficient practice placements for healthcare students – their future workforce.

4. We noted the debate in committee around the following amendment: Amendment proposed (3 March): 174, in schedule 2, page 227, line 11, at end insert-  

‘2A (1) The consortium must have a board that includes-(a) a chair appointed by the membership of the consortium;(b) the accountable officer if this is not the chair;(c) at least three non-executive directors appointed by the chair that are not members of a commissioning consortium;(d) at least one patient representative appointed by the local Healthwatch organisation;(e) such additional clinical specialists that are needed to ensure that expert advice is available within the Board for the commissioning of services, including-(i) a registered nurse, and(ii) a member of the allied health professions;(f) at least one representative from local authorities in the consortium area;(g) no more than four other members of the consortium.(2) The consortium must meet in public.(3) The agenda and minutes from the consortium board and any sub-committees must be published.’.-(Liz Kendall.) [2]

5. We fully support the prescription that a registered nurse and allied health professional must be present on commissioning boards. We hope that this amendment, once it has been restructured by the proposers, will be considered again.

March 2011

[1] Liberating the NHS: Developing the Healthcare Workforce , Department of Health, 20 December 2010.

[2] Proposed in Public Bill Committee session Tuesday 8 March 2011 (Morning) .