I share the frustration of the noble Baroness and others. This is not great for our international, global outlook, or for the fact that we want to attract the best students from around the world, not just Europe. We are a global country and we have to address this. I am pushing the NHS on this because it is really important. The problem is the national immunisation management system, to use the technical term, and the inability to validate the data of overseas visitors.
My Lords, I can sense the Minister’s frustration in this, but we have been aware of it for some time; this should have been sorted out a long time ago, yet here we are now in November. Does the Minister accept that all departments must play their part in achieving the Government’s aim of increasing the number of international students? Will he assure us that his department will be both flexible and creative—with the emphasis on “creative”—in resolving this and other similar problems that may arise?
I assure the noble Baroness that when I was pressing this issue yesterday with officials in preparation for this Question, I stressed the importance of flexibility and creativity. We need to think outside the box on many issues. One issue we are looking at is: if passenger locator forms can do this, why can the NHS Test and Trace system not? I am told that is because it is based on self-certification. I am pushing the NHS to address and analyse the different options as soon as possible. It is really important we send a message to the rest of the world that we are open to the brightest and the best from across the world.
I thank my noble friend for his question and for the advice he has given me to date. Even though I have size 11 feet, I am finding it rather difficult to fill his large shoes. On the funding announced, local authorities have a key role in supporting recruitment and retention in their local areas. We are working with them to make sure that they support local providers by identifying workforce shortages, developing workforce plans and encouraging joined-up services. We also continue to work closely with providers, councils and our partners to assess the situation and consider what further action may be necessary.
My Lords, the CQC’s annual report highlights the challenges faced by people with learning difficulties, their families and their informal carers. Does the Minister acknowledge this problem? The CQC accepts that its inspection procedures require more emphasis on the knowledge and experience of family and informal carers, following Professor Murphy’s report on the failures and abuse in Whorlton Hall. How can we hope that the CQC and other agencies in health and social care will give priority to the role of family and informal carers when the Government’s main policy statements and papers still virtually ignore their existence?
The Government recognise the valuable role that paid and unpaid carers play in social care. We are looking at how we can make sure that we recruit and retain staff. We understand the challenges that many care homes, quite often those in the private sector, face when trying to recruit and retain staff, given the competitive pressures around the jobs market. The Government certainly take seriously the role of unpaid and paid carers.