Select Committee on Science and Technology Third Report


Letter from Mr Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of the NHS

    Thank you for your letter of 13 November. I am content for the Select Committee's forthcoming report on clinical academic careers to quote from the letter of 26 June 1997.

    I believe that the steps Professor Fender and I have taken to ensure good liaison between HEFCE and the NHS over future research assessment exercises and in particular, how health services research is handled are very important. I am pleased that the Select Committee has taken note of our intervention.

    You may also wish to be aware that since Sir Rex Richards began his work there have been a number of other significant developments.

    In response to concerns over the implementation of the Calman reforms to higher specialist training and their effects on clinical academic medicine, the Department of Health has issued a special supplement to the Guide to Specialist Registrar Training. This provides additional information on the opportunities and flexibilities that exist under the new training arrangements. It has been well received by the clinical academic community and will be incorporated into a revised version of the Guide which we expect to publish early in the New Year.

    The Select Committee will also be aware of clinical academics' longstanding concern about pay parity with NHS colleagues. This is referred to in the draft report. Last year, in response to this concern, the Department for Education and Employment acted to ensure that arrangements for clinical academics pay were placed on a firmer footing. Additional funds were made available for 1996/97 to give, amongst other things, clinical academics the same pay award as their NHS colleagues. In 1997/98 HEFCE will require all universities and colleges to meet the additional costs for medical and dental schools arising from any pay increase awarded by the Government to NHS clinicians.

    Liaison between the universities and the NHS is also being strengthened including a joint initiative with HEFCE to identify and disseminate good practice, highlighting and promoting examples of good NHS/university partnership at local level.

    An Academic and Research Sub-group has been established as part of the Department of Health's Advisory Group on Medical Education Training. This is chaired by the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Kenneth Calman and provides a forum for the academic and research community to discuss matters of mutual concern with senior officials in the Department. This sub-group was pivotal in producing the supplement to the Guide to Specialist Registrar Training and is due to meet again in early December.

    Finally, as part of our efforts to strengthen the enduring partnership between the NHS and the universities, senior staff of the NHS Executive meet at regular intervals with members of the Council of Vice-Chancellors and Principals. We are also forging closer working links with the Council of Heads of Medical Schools.

    I hope that the Select Committee will find this additional information useful. Liaison arrangements continue to improve and the Department of Health is firmly committed to an approach which is sensitive and receptive to the concerns of clinical academic staff.

24 November 1997

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