Memorandum by SkillsActive (WP 64)
This letter is SkillsActive's response to the
Health Select Committee inquiry on the Public Health White Paper.
SkillsActive is the Sector Skills Council for the Active Leisure
and Learning Sector. For further background information please
We have focused our response on the areas of
the white paper which mention SkillsActive specifically and which
directly affect our work. Therefore we have refrained from submitting
a more detailed response and from going over the information in
our original submission to the DoH consultation "Choosing
Activity". However, should you wish to see this submission
we would be more than happy to supply it.
Whether the proposals will enable the Government
to achieve its public health goals?
SkillsActive contributed a lengthy submission
to the Choosing Activity consultation which led to the Public
Health White Paper. As a result we were asked to elaborate on
elements of our response relating to workforce development for
the white paper.
SkillsActive is of the opinion that the white
paper will go a long way towards achieving the Government's public
health goals and the vision of a society fully engaged with the
public health agenda. However it is felt that there was not enough
emphasis on the role of physical activity in the Public Health
White Paper. The partnership between health and active leisure
is an important one in preventative healthcare and must be fully
utilised if the Government is to realise its goals.
Whether the proposals are appropriate, will be
effective and whether they represent value for money?
With regards to the effectiveness and appropriateness
of proposals which relate to the SkillsActive area of expertise,
it is difficult to comment at this stage as the role of the new
NHS Health Trainers is not yet fully defined. SkillsActive is
working with Skills for Health and the DoH Public Health White
Paper implementation task force to reach an agreement on the detail
of the role of the new health trainers which will pave the way
for developing qualifications and standards for the new role.
Early indications suggest that the role of the
NHS Health Trainers will be a signposting role, focusing upon
giving general lifestyle advice and suggesting regular exercise
as part of this. This would only require qualifications up to
level 1. However SkillsActive sees a level 1 qualification as
an assistant working under supervision. While we agree there is
a definite role for this kind of lifestyle advice it means that
the health trainers will not be able to work with specialist populations
(such as the morbidly obese or diabetics) which requires qualification
of level 3 and beyond.
We must therefore ensure that the training and
qualifications for Health Trainers is designed to avoid duplication
with the exercise referral process. At a minimum we would suggest
that these new NHS Health Trainers should be able to guide an
individual through the use of a PARQ (Physical Activity Readiness
Questionnaire) which are in general used in gyms and leisure centres
to identify whether an apparently healthy person has any conditions
that would require a consultation with a GP before they embark
on an activity programme. It would be counter-productive if an
individual was encouraged to take up exercise only to be turned
away at the gym door. Such knowledge could be within a unit at
Evidence suggests that only 35% of the current
fitness workforce is qualified at the level required to work with
people with specialist fitness needs. At the moment there is simply
not enough adequately trained staff to fulfil the specialist roles
required to get the nation active. It must also be a priority
of Government to support the development of this element of the
public health workforce in light of the new demands being made
on the workforce in relation to preventative health care.
To this end it is essential that the National
Quality Assurance Framework (NQAF) is reviewed. SkillsActive will
be able to oversee this project but needs the appropriate injection
of funding to execute it. The review must be accompanied by a
plan to make the NQAF more effective and a strategy for its promotion
and implementation to ensure the framework is used and that good
practice is disseminated amongst, and championed by, the sector.