From education to employment

Lecturers” Union Warn of Difficulties in Modernisation Proposals

According to a news release by the NATFHE, lecturers are in fear of the damage that will occur to NHS training and patient care as a consequence of government plans for a so ““ called “patient led NHS”; an aspect of the governments” modernisation agenda, which is attempting to “build on the NHS Improvement Plan”.

Lecturers have warned that such alterations could result in making the monitoring of professional standards more complex, therefore leading to a decline within clinical education and patient care. Furthermore, “concern and dismay” has been expressed over the lack of research for the proposed modifications and the governments” failure, to seek advice from those involved.

NATFHE General Secretary Outlines Reservations

On the 17th of October, 2005, Paul Mackney, general secretary of the NATFHE, wrote to the Secretary of State for Health, Patricia Hewitt, in which letter he outlined the reservations felt by health academics in regards to this issue of commissioning a “patient led NHS”. This reply was in response to a letter from Sir Nigel Crisp (Commissioning a Patient-Led NHS 28 July 2005), to Chief Executives of Local Authorities, NHS organizations, Directors of Social Services and Primary Care Trust PEC Chairs.

In his counter letter, Mackney states NATFHE’s apprehensions as including the “lack of consultation on the nature of the proposed reforms, the forced pace of change, the use of private health care providers, the lack of a research led evidence based rationale for the reforms, threats to recruitment and retention of key staff, and the destabilisation of the commissioning process”.

The Specific Concerns

The general secretary then went on to address these qualms individually in full detail. One of the main points, highlighted by Mr. Mackney, is that no evidence whatsoever has been provided to demonstrate that this is what the public desires, despite the fact that the amendments are being promoted as “patient choice”. In addition, he elaborated on the possible increase to the already in existence recruitment and retention problem, that could transpire due to these reforms.

“Recruitment and retention problems have existed amongst frontline healthcare professionals for some time,” he wrote. “The negative effect on staff morale and predictable further loss of talent of skilled health professionals cannot be underestimated.”

NATFHE, or The University and College Lecturers Union, represents 69,000 lecturers in higher and further education who provide education and training for NHS staff in particular, including nurses, midwives, physiotherapists and graduate health professionals. Members of NATFHE work on numerous NHS commissioned educational programmes including NVQ provision, pre-registration education and post graduate education for the health professions.

The letter was concluded with a plea from Mackney on behalf of members of the NATFHE, for the government to take into consideration the requirements of patients and health professionals “in respect of clinical education and training for the health professions”.

Whether the government will heed to this request of the thousands of working health academics who train and prepare those in charge of the nations health, is yet to be seen.

Tina Sharma

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