Dr Chris Stephens is Director of Education and Deputy Head at the School of Medicine in Southampton. He writes for us today as our first external blogger on the negative impact the Health Bill could have on the training of future health professionals. Does this worry you as well? Tell us what you think through the comment box below!
I trained in the NHS and became a GP and I feel the concept of health care free at the point of delivery is a basic human right. I care about the NHS and have seen the costs and inefficiencies of repeated previous organisational reforms and restructuring.
There is usually about 12 months while the old organisation closes down, staff leave and decisions are not made. This followed by 12- 18 months as the new organisation recruits ( often the same staff) decides on a strategy, logo, webs site and gets to grips with the issues. So while the folk from PCT and SHA play musical chairs and pop up again in purchasing consortium or skills networks, health care workers continue delivering care on the front line.
There have been tremendous improvements in areas such as waiting time s for referral and procedures as well as more patient centred care but I do have concerns. While I shop at a supermarket it is naive to think that I could purchase for all the supermarkets in an area of the South of England. Most GPs want the best case for their patients but do not have the negotiating skills, business skills, time or energy to become procurers of health care. There will be a few who will become GP leaders in this area and it may be a way GPs can influence how care is provided and delivered more effectively but there are risks.
The main risk is that the consortium will be no better at this than PCT’s and fragmentation of the NHS with huge impact on education of training. The plans for training of all sorts of health and social care workers seems to be even more fragmented and unclear in Liberating the NHS Developing the Health care workforce which is out for consultation. It suggest that “ skills networks “ may be set up form all the healthcare and education stakeholders. Identifying high quality educational placements, quality assuring them, developing staff in educational roles supporting learners, providing education al facilities ,libraries, IT, skills labs etc are all vital components in the pipeline of human resource management. Education is often forgotten.
When digital X rays were introduced across the NHS no one considered the needs of students on placement (medical students, Physio students and nursing students) to be able to be trained or access the images. We have very good opportunities for people to be trained and developed in new and traditional roles but much of that is dependent on the culture and environment of the organisations and this is just the area that is coming under so much pressure.
Dr Chris Stephens
Director of Education and Deputy Head, School of Medicine, University of Southampton