A clean bill of health for England?
During the recent listening exercise, we met with members of the NHS Future Forum – the group that led the listening exercise on the Health and Social Care Bill for England – to raise issues and concerns that could affect medical practice and education.
The Government is proposing significant changes in the way postgraduate medical education is commissioned and run. We were anxious to make sure that there would still be a champion at local level whom we can hold to account for maintaining and improving education and training, judged against our quality standards. We also wanted to make sure that the transition to the new system would be carefully managed and that there would be no disruption to the education and training of junior doctors.
We also wanted assurances that there would be clear plans setting out where Responsible Officers would sit following the abolition of PCTs and SHAs. This will be important as we maintain momentum towards revalidation in 2012.
The NHS Future Forum made strong recommendations on both of these issues, which the Government has committed to taking forward, and we are pleased with this response.
‘We are not a campaigning organisation, and nor should we be,’ said Niall Dickson, the GMC’s Chief Executive. ‘But it is important that we contribute to policy development and do what we can to protect and enhance standards of education and practice.’
Some of the major changes to the planned reforms that have been agreed are set out below.
Stability in education and training
Deaneries will continue to oversee the training of junior doctors during transition to any new structures or systems.
At the same time, Health Education England (HEE) will centralise leadership and accountability in England, give an overarching view of the whole, multi-professional workforce and build strong relationships with health, care and education partners. To ensure there is consistency in training across the increasingly different UK health systems, HEE will work closely with partners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Government has also committed to making sure that funding for education and training in England will be protected and distributed fairly and transparently. Any changes will be introduced in a ‘careful, phased way that does not create instability’.
The Government will publish detailed plans on how it will ensure a safe and robust transition for the education and training system, and on their plans for funding, in the autumn.
Clear arrangements for Responsible Officers
Responsible Officers have been appointed across the UK in the last year – they will lead work to prepare for revalidation in their organisations. They will play a key role when revalidation begins by ensuring every doctor has an annual appraisal and is able to revalidate.
Following the 'pause', the Government has made it clear that Responsible Officers have a crucial role in overseeing a high quality clinical workforce and in putting together the building blocks for revalidation. The government has now made it clear that that responsible officers will continue in their roles for now and that it will consult on how best to position their role when PCTs and SHAs are abolished.
You can read the the Government’s full response to the NHS Future Forum's recommendations on the Department of Health's website.