Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Health Profession Wales



  Health Professions Wales (HPW) was established with effect from the 1st April 2002. The remit for HPW is set out in the paper that went to the Assembly Health and Social Services Committee on the 13th March 2002. (HSS-07-02 (P6)). HPW takes over functions previously provided by the Welsh National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (WNB) along with a multi-professional remit and a range of new functions.

  The attached letter (not printed) is a profile of HPW's remit.

  HPW is currently a unit within the National Assembly for Wales until the NHS (Wales) Bill has been passed and the Assembly can establish HPW as an Assembly Sponsored Public Body (ASPB). The present structure and arrangements are to continue based on the ASPB framework of the WNB. In effect, although not in law, a "shadow" ASPB within the Assembly.


  The strategic approach adopted by the National Assembly for Wales (NAfW) for the Welsh Health Service is based on partnership and joint working practices, which will require a corporate team approach to workforce issues that will work for the benefit of all staff and health organisations in Wales to improve the quality of education and the quality of care.

  Ensuring the NHS trains the right numbers and types of clinical staff at both pre and post registration level, is a complex process. Close co-operation between the NHS and other employers of healthcare staff, education and training providers and the professional bodies is required to ensure that staff become suitably qualified and fit for purpose. These are all issues highlighted within the NHS Plan for Wales and the Human Resources Strategy.

  There are a number of formal partnership agreements between the NHS and employers, higher education institutions and the statutory and professional bodies who regulate the different non-medical professions. Together they determine whether the student is "fit for award, fit for purpose and fit for practice". In particular, there are a range of organisations and agencies that carry out quality assurance or accreditation functions both within higher education and the health service. HPW will be a unique driving force in working with and across various organisations to support and further develop the modernisation and reform of NHS Wales through ensuring quality in education, training and development for the NHS workforce.

  A range of policy initiatives at Wales and UK level have created new challenges and opportunities, which HPW will play a key role in supporting. At the forefront of these developments is the goal of investing in and strengthening the workforce at all levels, and across sectors, so as to underpin the range, flexibility and quality of the services offered to communities across Wales.

  Policy initiatives include:

    —  Improving Health in Wales: A Plan for the NHS and its Partners (NAfW, 2001);

    —  A Human Resources Strategy for NHS Wales-Delivering for Patients (NAfW, 2001);

    —  A Workforce of All the Talents (DH, 2001);

    —  Shifting the Balance of Power: The Next Steps (DH, 2001);

    —  Structural Change in the NHS in Wales (NAfW, 2001);

    —  The Learning Country (NAfW, 2001);

    —  Creating the Potential (NAfW, 1999);

    —  Realising the Potential (NAfW, 2000);

    —  QAA Benchmark Statements (QAA, 2001).

  Additionally, emerging National Service Frameworks, will demand practitioners with new skills and competencies, so that they can be implemented effectively in order to support the modernisation and reform of NHS Wales.

  These are planned crucial changes and will require a responsive, adaptive and well equipped workforce which is truly empowered. There is also a need to build further upon the learning infrastructure which already exists, and create a real momentum for lifelong learning, which shows staff they are valued and supports them in developing new skills and new ways of working, across boundaries, professional and geographical, to deliver the Welsh agenda for change.

  It is also an imperative that there are available clear standards at an all Wales level for the continuing personal and professional development of all sectors of the workforce. This will ensure that there are standards for delivering and accounting for the services provided to service users.

  HPW is an ideal and timely vehicle for delivering, through partnership working, this dynamic change agenda.


  As demonstrated in the attached profile, HPW's remit is extensive, however, HPW is not, nor is there any intention that it will be a regulatory body along the same lines as the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the Health Professions Council (HPC).

  The establishment of HPW as an ASPB would allow the functions to be provided at arms length from the NAfW. The functions assigned to HPW are not able to be performed by an existing Welsh body. The scale and duration of the tasks justifies an ASPB. The establishment of an ASPB is the most effective way of carrying out the functions.

  The NHS (Wales) Bill, which includes the establishment of HPW as an Assembly Sponsored Public Body (ASPB) is quite different from the various legislation that the previous body, the WNB, worked within—The Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Acts. They tended to be more prescriptive. This had its advantages in that there was clear direction in terms of remit and function, Board structure and reporting mechanism. The disadvantages were the prescription and one was limited to what the Act said a body could do and, that if any change was required, then primary legislation was needed for any amendments. This was a slow process and not responsive to current demands.

  HPW supports the more flexible approach that has been adopted in the construction of the NHS (Wales) Bill in relation to Health Professions Wales. It will allow for maximum flexibility so that if the remit or constitution of the body needs change, then this can be brought to fruition quickly.


  The attached profile letter (not printed) sets out in more detail the remit of HPW. As stated previously, HPW will not have a primary remit to undertake the initial professional education and training of nurses, midwives and health visitors, health care professions and health care scientists. This is clearly the responsibility of the NMC and HPC. However, if so requested, HPW could enter into formal arrangements with either of these bodies to perform these functions, on their behalf, to their standards and quality controls in Wales.

  HPW will also act as a resource for the Welsh Assembly government and NHS Cymru in national and local policy formulation through its understanding of the issues affecting professional regulation. HPW also has an important role to play in ensuring that the regulatory bodies have the right information about the Welsh health service and professional education in Wales so that changes in regulation are both valid and achievable in Wales.

  Further change is taking place this year in Wales including the abolition of the Health Authorities, the establishment of Local Health Boards and three new Regional Offices. The remit for HPW may change further as the modernisation of the Welsh health service is taken forward. Flexibility in relation to changes in HPW's role and functions is required and this is further support for the flexible approach that has been adopted in the construction of the NHS (Wales) Bill in relation to Health Professions Wales.

Wendy Fawcus

Director of Business Services

13 June 2002


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