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Payments for NHS training come under fire

Payment for training 'anachronistic and anomalous',says Health Select Committee

Louise Prime

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The arrangements by which the NHS pays education and training providers are "anachronistic and anomalous", the Health Select Committee claims in a report out today.

The Education, training and workforce planning report complains that payment is not linked to quality, is based only partly on trainee numbers, and varies without reason between provider types and between regions. The Committee also protests at the “almost total lack of transparency about how it is spent”.

It welcomes Government proposals to move payments to a tariff-based system, but says there is not enough evidence of progress towards converting this “desirable policy” into a workable system, and that a greater sense of urgency is needed to make this happen. But it warns that clinical services’ quality must not be threatened by the transition to any new system.

NHS Employers director Dean Royles said: “The NHS education and training system is notoriously complex … The planning system for the medical workforce has become disconnected and distant from current and future patient needs. We need to make sure we start with patients and consider the entire workforce in our planning.

“In order to maximise benefits to patients, we would welcome clarity to let Local Education and Training Boards (LETBs) get on with implementing their structural forms as soon as possible.”

He added: “The NHS is making seismic changes to the way it offers care. In future, we need to provide more community services and offer more care at home. This will mean big changes for staff.

“Rather than focusing overly on the traditional staffing groups, we need to make sure the whole NHS workforce is fit for purpose. The support workforce are, and will continue to be, central to the patient experience. We need to make sure there is national investment for their development.”

Speakers at the BMA Local Medical Committees conference in Liverpool this morning warned that the new arrangements for education and training in England “threaten to overlook the needs of general practice”. GP delegates responded by unanimously backing a motion calling for the General Practitioners Committee to convince the Department of Health to ring-fence sufficient funds for practice staff education and training, and for new LETBs to be required to consult with LMCs.

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