Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20-34)
DR PAM WALTER, MS JANICE GOSBY, MR COLIN LEA, DR PETER BURLEY, MS WENDY FAWCUS AND MR THOMAS MOORE
MONDAY 17 JUNE 2002
20. How does the very wide remit sit with the work of Healthwork UK?
(Mr Moore) Healthwork UK was the national training organisation, as you know, that has largely become dissolved as of 31 March this year although there is still work being progressed at the operational level. The representatives from the Department of Health and from the devolved administrations in the other three countries have recently come together to form a new board, Skills for Health. Health Professions Wales, through myself, is represented on that board. Skills for Health is presently in the process of submitting an application to become a sectors skills council to the Department for Education and Skills. The overall primary remit of that health sector organisation will be to develop national occupational standards for the UK health workforce. It is fortunate that Health Professions Wales has representation on that in the form of myself at the minute so we are able to align the activities and the work that we do here in Wales with the national UK picture. I might also add that the membership of that board for Skills for Health will be broadened to include representatives from other organisations represented around the table at the moment so as to ensure that there is clarity and to reduce any ambiguity in terms of the remit and boundaries of what different organisations do. Skills for Health as a sector skills council would not be undertaking work that rightly belongs to the the province of regulatory bodies and vice versa.
Julie Morgan: Thank you.
Dr Francis: Good afternoon. I feel I ought to be asking this question in Welsh as it is to do with the Welsh language, but there we are!
Chairman: Do not because we do not have translation!
21. It is in relation to Health Professions Wales. Paragraphs 7 and 8 of Schedule 3 of the draft Bill amend the Welsh language Act but not apparently in relation to HPW. What, if any, do you think will be the Welsh language implications of the creation of HPW?
(Ms Fawcus) We anticipate that HPW will have the same requirements placed upon it as any other ASPB in Wales, the same requirement that was placed on the Welsh National Board. We will have an agreed Welsh language policy with the Welsh Language Board and obviously we will implement that. HPW are already in discussion with the Welsh Language Board in terms of our own Welsh language policy. We would envisage it being the same as any other ASPB in Wales. It is my understanding that the Assembly does have the power to add HPW under the Welsh Language Act provisions at some point in the future. That is my understanding of the legal situation.
22. You have gone quite far down the road in your preperations already then?
(Ms Fawcus) Because the WNB was transferred into Health Professions Wales, we start from a tremendous position of strength because we are able to take in a great deal of the policies and procedures that already existed for the Welsh National Boards and we are now able to revise those in order to cover our wider remit. Thus we have already a strong base from which to work.
(Mr Lea) As far as HPC is concerned we have been closely associated with the Welsh Language Board. It is in our Orders in Council. We have made representations already that everything is taken into account.
23. Moving on to appointments, there seems to be no provision in the draft Bill for the involvement of the NHS Appointments Commission in creating HPW. Do you consider that there should be? How are the Nursing and Midwifery Council and HPC nominated?
(Mr Lea) As far as HPC is concerned, of course, the Council was established firstly by open competition, that was for the lay members, in January 2001 when we, first of all, became a shadow Health Professions Council. This was by public advertisement and the Nolan principles of course with properr interviews. The registrant members of course are slightly different. Of the 12 registrant boards there were when we were the shadow Health Professions Council, there were two nominations from each of those boards to go through to the Department of Health and one was selected to represent that particular board on to the Council. That still exists but, of course, in our process of consultation we are now going to have to set up elections for the registrant members and we are going through the rules and regulations to cover that for the registrant members. Lay members will continue to be appointed through the normal principles and process of appointments. The lay members were originally appointed by Lord Hunt at the Department of Health and subsequently confirmed when we became the Health Professions Council on 1 April by the Privy Council. So that will continue over the period that we are looking at, but there is a difference between elections for registrant members. At the moment we have 12 registrant representatives and 11 lay and where the present member is a registrant member then you have to have a registerant member elected to cover that particular post. There consequently will be a lay member appointed as well. You always will have on our Council one excess who will be representing the registrants.
24. The Nursing and Midwifery Council?
(Dr Walter) For the sake of simplicity you could just read exactly the same and put Nursing and Midwifery Council instead of HPC. It is exactly the same.
25. And the first part of my question about the involvement of the NHS Appointments Commission?
(Ms Fawcus) If I could pick up on that point. It is my understanding that the Assembly does have the power to provide for this in secondary legislation or by direction. The actual constitution of HPW has not been defined and I believe that will be the subject of further consultation. It is my understanding that appointments to HPW will follow the Nolan principles and will involve the Appointments Commission.
26. Clause 5(3) states: "An Order may provide for HPW to charge for any service which it provides in discharging any function." How has this worked in the past?
(Ms Fawcus) WNB always had the facility to charge for services. One of the services it charged for was a composite fee for entry to the student training index which was the port into what was then the UKCC register. Students were indexed as part of the qualitative processes and we charged a fee for that, you were uploaded electronically to the UKCC's register at successful completion and became a registered professional. From HPW's point of view and its wider remit, one of the areas we certainly know we are going to have to make a charge for is in terms of providing quality assurance to the Nursing and Midwifery Council in what has already been referred tothe service level agreement. We still need that power in order to charge fees.
27. Why charge nurses to be on your register?
(Ms Fawcus) I will pass that to the NMC.
28. Would you rather not answer?
(Ms Gosby) No.
29. One last question really. It is a draft Bill and although it has been produced in the way it has, which I think is a little misleading, we are talking general principles here and we could as a Committee suggest things that the Government could put in a proper legislative Bill. Is there anything in the draft Bill which either the Nursing and Midwifery Council or the Health Professions Council would like to see which is not in this draft Bill?
(Dr Burley) The Bill is a pretty broad, enabling framework, so it is quite a difficult question to answer. But in terms of detailed content, as I said, we are consulting about these issues and clearly I would hope if anything significant emerges from our consultation we will be able to come back to you about that.
Chairman: We are on a very short timescale obviously. Everybody is going to be listened to by the Government, at least that is what they are telling us, and therefore hopefully you will have a chance to get in before the Bill is properly laid.
30. When is your consultation period over?
(Mr Lea) It starts on 1 July and ends at the end of September. Then we have to prepare everything in order to get through to the Privy Council agreement, which make take a while.
31. There is a lot to go through. Is there anything the Nursing and Midwifery Council would like to see?
(Dr Walter) More a comment I think. In saying that it is an NHS Bill, you are setting up Health Professions Wales and it could give the impression that HPW is only about the NHS and not about the the breadths including the independent sector and maybe something in the guidance or Explanatory Notes might be helpful.
32. Or even the title of the Bill when it comes forward.
(Dr Walter) I would leave that for you.
Chairman: This is very much draft.
33. Can I ask a question of Health Professions Wales. In a letter you sent out in May to other interested organisations in the health sector you outline all the things that Health Professions Wales is involved in. One of the paragraphs is: "Health Professions Wales is a driving force to support and further develop the modernisation and reform of NHS Wales." It seems to me that that can be interpreted as supporting a particular political agenda. While you are in a Civil Service department that has some logic, but once you become an arm's length body is that appropriate?
(Ms Fawcus) It was never intended to convey that message. It is purely about delivering the Assembly's policies which are very clear about how NHS Wales is to be modernised. That is purely the message we are trying to deliver; there is no political agenda there.
34. Any other questions? Thank you very much for coming.
(Ms Fawcus) Thank you for the opportunity.
(Dr Walter) Thank you.