§ 12. Mr. Phil Sawford (Kettering)
What measures he proposes for improving the regulation of health professions. 
§ The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. John Denham)
The Government are committed to improving quality in the national health service through the introduction of clinical governance. Strong, open and accountable systems of professional self-regulation play an integral part in that, and we want to work with the 854 professions to build on and strengthen existing systems. The Health Bill includes measures to allow for the regulation of new professions and the strengthening of existing regulatory schemes by order.
§ Mr. Sawford
I thank my hon. Friend for that answer and welcome any action that is designed to improve the regulation of health professions. I draw his attention in particular to the situation regarding psychologists. It would seem that people can call themselves counsellors, therapists or psychologists without receiving any training whatever. Will my hon. Friend support the current moves by that profession to establish a register of chartered psychologists in order to protect the public from possible exploitation, abuse or harm? If necessary, can such registration be made a statutory requirement?
§ Mr. Denham
I share my hon. Friend's concern about bogus psychologists or anyone else who makes false claims concerning health care and treatment. The Government are well aware of the issues involved.
The order-making power proposed under the Health Bill would allow regulatory schemes to be set up for health care professions, such as psychology, that are not yet covered by statute. Our officials who are directly involved in developing the proposals have discussed those matters with the British Psychological Society, and the Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton), will hear the views of the society on 21 April. That will help us to consider the options and reach a decision in due course about the right action to take.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)
While we may accept that some regulation of the medical profession may be necessary, does the Minister agree that the medical profession across the spectrum requires a boost in morale? Will he follow the example set by the East Cheshire NHS trust and its chairman Peter Hayes and ensure that morale across the hospital service is of the highest order? In doing that, he would ensure the best service provision to the people of this country and treatment of a maximum number of people.
§ Mr. Denham
I am very keen, as are my right hon. and hon. Friends, to ensure that best practice is spread throughout the national health service. The system of NHS beacons is designed, among other things, to identify good practice in leadership and management. I hope that the hon. Gentleman's local trust will be able to contribute to that process. However, the hon. Gentleman should not underestimate the significant determination of the medical profession to modernise its system of self-regulation, which I think will benefit patients throughout the country.
§ Mr. John Heppell (Nottingham, East)
I welcome the Minister's attempts to improve the quality of service in our hospitals. However, is he aware that last week two patients in Nottingham City hospital contracted malaria? Even more worrying, it has been discovered since then that another patient who was discharged from the hospital has died from malaria. Will the Minister assure us that 855 there will be a thorough investigation into the causes and that whatever measures are necessary to protect the public in future will be taken?
§ Mr. Denham
For the reason given by my hon. Friend, the authorities will certainly establish what happened in that case and whether there are any lessons to be learned from that.