HC Deb 09 December 1997 vol 302 cc790-1
14. Ms Keeble

What extra financial support he has made available for professional training in the NHS. [18243]

Ms Jowell

The NHS will spend around £1.8 billion on health professional education and training this year. On 30 September, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced that these budgets would be increased by a further £50 million next year.

Ms Keeble

What professional training would my hon. Friend expect the NHS to provide to enable people who are currently in administrative work—especially work connected with the internal market—to move into patient care: people such as my constituent Christine Dowsett, who moved from secretarial work to patient care and is building a satisfying new career?

Ms Jowell

My hon. Friend's constituent is but one example of the way in which the Government are discharging their promise to move money and, therefore, in many cases people from jobs that involved red tape, bureaucracy and paper chasing in connection with the internal market, to front-line patient care. Our provisions for training in the national health service recognise the diversity of skills with which staff need to be equipped in order to deliver the modern and dependable care that people have a right to expect.

Mr. Fabricant

Does the Minister realise that all the GP fundholders in Lichfield do not want to be retrained in new systems? They think that the internal market, as she and the spin doctors call it, is a mechanism for providing the best care for their patients. They do not want more training: they want the status quo. What does the Minister say to them?

Ms Jowell

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be here in eight minutes' time to hear my right hon. Friend set out the Government's proposals for rebuilding the national health service and ensuring that his constituents have access to the quality of primary and hospital care that they have a right to expect.

Mr. Andy King

Can my hon. Friend assure me that, in the light of the small trusts that collapsed and were clearly a disaster under the Conservatives, such as Rugby national health service trust, which left us with rubble in place of a robust local health service, there will be clear criteria and guidance to protect local services that should be delivered locally and should not be taken away by predatory, larger, neighbouring trusts?

Ms Jowell

My hon. Friend knows that mergers involve ensuring that any staff who are affected receive the training that they need to adapt to new circumstances, and that the situation that he described is currently subject to consultation.