HL Deb 12 May 2003 vol 648 cc10-1WA
Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government

How they intend to ensure continuing quality of clinical service by the relevant professionals.[HL2514]

Baroness Andrews

Quality is at the heart of the Government's agenda for the National Health Service. NHS organisations have a statutory duty to improve the quality of health care they provide. Quality improvement is supported by: clear national standards for services and treatments; local delivery of high quality health care, through clinical governance underpinned by modernised professional self-regulation and extended lifelong learning; and effective monitoring and inspection.

Clinical governance provides NHS organisations and healthcare professionals with a framework through which they are accountable for continuous quality improvement. The NHS Clinical Governance Support Team (part of the NHS Modernisation Agency) provides programmes to support the implementation throughout that service. The Commission for Health Improvement reviews clinical governance arrangements in NHS organisations, including the education, training and continuing personal and professional development of staff.

The Government are committed to ensuring that standards of professional clinical competence are maintained and developed, and are working in collaboration with the professional and regulatory bodies to develop a shared framework for post-qualification learning. It is intended that the framework should be available in July 2004. Over the next three years, an extra £96 million will be made available locally to support local strategic learning and development plans and ensure that trusts deliver continuing professional development effectively.

The Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill currently before Parliament, retains the duty of quality for NHS bodies, and additionally provides for the Secretary of State for Health to publish standards for the provision of NHS healthcare. The Bill also enables the proposed Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection (CHAI) to advise the Secretary of State on changes which it thinks should be made to the standards for the purpose of securing improvement in the quality of healthcare. The Bill proposes that CHAI will review each year the provision of healthcare by NHS bodies, and in so doing will take into account the standards set by the Secretary of State.