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Peter Bottomley (Worthing, West): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The remarks about Andy Wood may have been made off the cuff by the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mike Gapes). As you have rightly said, hon. Members have to use their own discretion on whether to use the power make an attackwhether slanderous, accurate or inaccurateon someone outside the House. Could you remind the House that that power is occasionally valuable, but when it seems to be used as part of the weaponry of the reputation assassins, trying to support a Minister in trouble, it makes the House look rather mean and silly?
On 18 June 1998, the inquiry was set up by the then Secretary of State for Health, my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson). Kennedy produced close to 200 recommendations; my Bill seeks to address only two issues. I am aware that the Government have done much, and have plans to do much more. My intention is to assist the Government. They have already introduced a Bill to establish the Council for the Regulation of Health Care Professionals. My Bill would clarify one of the new council's responsibilities and strengthen patient representationa principle already embraced by the Government. Kennedy says that staff
Of course, the professionals who currently sit on the boards can be patients, too, but their job is not to represent patients, and I want people on the boards who only represent patients. Having two representatives would allow trusts to ensure geographical representation, and allow for the division of responsibility.
When the NHS Reform and Health Care Professions Bill completes its stages, the Council for the Regulation of Health Care Professionals will come into being. It will have the power to regulate and set uniform, continuous training and assessment requirements for health care professionals. My Bill would make it obligatory for the council, with the Secretary of State, to use those powers and ensure that health care professionals receive regular training to update their skills and working methods. However, there is a disciplinary system in place to cover professionals who refuse training or fall below certain minimum standards of knowledge and practice. Any disciplinary action should be undertaken within reasonable time. I am sure that most hon. Members have heard me mention previously some of the issues affecting the health service in Coventry, where several consultants have been suspended for considerable periodsat least two for a two-year periodat considerable cost to the national health service. Another consultant was suspended as recently as Friday. I do not know too much about the details of the case, but I am struck by the fact that every time a consultant is suspended in Coventry, it seems to be for bullying. That reminds me of my days in industry, when the catch-all offence was gross misconduct. It seems that the charge of bullying is being used in the same sort of way.
As I said, I do not know the details of the case, but I shall not let the matter rest. I intend to seek Adjournment debates to pursue the issue. Some of the managers in the local health service, and even at regional level, have said that they are not going to let half a dozen Members of Parliament push them around. It is not about Members of Parliament pushing management around; it is about ensuring the best possible management for Walsgrave Hospitals NHS trust and Walsgrave hospital. That is the real issue.
The national health service should be a good employer and allow staff to refresh their skills and learn new ones. The Government have spent a lot of time and money encouraging employers to invest in their staff and make lifelong learning opportunities available to them. Surely it would be wrong to exclude such opportunities from the NHS. After all, they are available in the education system. In addition, the NHS would benefit from sharing examples of best practice.
For all those reasons, I want the new council to address the issue and ensure continuous training for all health care professionals. It would be easy to adopt the route of the Opposition and lambast the health service for its inadequacies and mistakes. That is not my style. I am introducing this Bill because it provides a productive approach and real solutions. It will go some way towards giving our constituents an effective service, and a health service to be trusted.
Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Jim Cunningham, Mrs. Claire Curtis-Thomas, Mr. Brian Jenkins, Mr. Stephen McCabe, Mr. Mike O'Brien, Mr. Bill Olner, Mr. Geoffrey Robinson, Ms Debra Shipley, Rachel Squire, David Taylor and Mr. James Wray.
Mr. Jim Cunningham accordingly presented a Bill to provide for the training of health professionals and for the involvement of patients and the general public in the decision-making processes of the National Health Service; and to provide mechanisms for the regulation of training and public involvement: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 21 June, and to be printed [Bill 99].
Consideration and Third Reading
(1) The proceedings on consideration shall be taken on each of the allotted days as shown in the first column of the following Table and shall be taken in the order so shown, and each part of the proceedings shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at the time specified in the second column of the Table.
|Proceedings||Time for conclusion of proceedings|
|First allotted day|
|New Clauses relating to Part 1, amendments relating to Clause 1, Schedule 1 and Clauses 2 to 5; new Clauses relating to Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4; amendments relating to Clauses 6 to 141, Schedule 2 and Clauses 142 to 248||Three and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Motion for this Order|
|New Clauses relating to Part 5; amendments relating to Clauses 249 to 256, Schedule 3, Clauses 257 to 272, Schedule 4 and Clauses 273 to 316; new Clauses relating to Part 6; amendments relating to Clauses 317 to 325, Schedule 5 and Clause 326||Six hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Motion for this Order|
|Second allotted day|
|New Clauses relating to Part 7; amendments relating to Clauses 327 to 330, Schedule 6 and Clauses 331 to 335||Two and a quarter hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Bill|
|New Clauses relating to Part 8; amendments relating to Clauses 336 to 407; new Clauses relating to Part 9; amendments relating to Clauses 408 to 425; new Clauses relating to Part 10; amendments relating to Clauses 426 to 433; new Clauses relating to Part 11; amendments relating to Clauses 434 to 439, Schedule 7, Clauses 440 to 444, Schedule 8, Clause 445, Schedule 9 and Clauses 446 to 450; remaining new Clauses; new Schedules and remaining proceedings on consideration||Four and a quarter hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Bill