NHS aims for a learning culture

first_imgKathBurke looks at how the NHSis opening up training to 250,000 staff across thewhole organisationEveryone from hospital porters to specialists will get thechance to better themselves as Europe’s largest training investor aims tobecome a model employer. Under the NHS corporate university’s (NHSU) five-year plan, more than250,000 employees across all strata of the health service will be able toreceive training and earn qualifications in subsidised learning groups andonline modules. Launched on 11 December 2003, the NHSU aims to create a learning culturewithin the health service by 2008. The strategy underscores the fact that manyNHS employees are unimpressed with the quality of training they currentlyreceive, despite the England-wide price tag of £3bn a year. The strategy will promote online training so that people can upgrade theirskills during gaps in their workdays rather than having to arrange cover beforetrekking off to remote training sites. Staff will also be able to shareconcerns and problems via online learning group discussion boards and livechats. For the first time in the service’s history, staff at all levels within theservice will learn side by side, helping to break down hierarchies and healingdepartmental rifts. Studies by the NHSU revealed that about 40 per cent of clerical andadministrative staff had been denied learning opportunities throughout theirtenure in the NHS, so the plan aims to be more inclusive. Bob Abberley, a non-executive member of the NHSU board and assistant generalsecretary of public sector union Unison, said the NHSU’s bottom-up approach toeducation means that doctors and nurses will no longer get the lion’s share ofeducational opportunities. “Those who have the most qualifications get themost training,” he said. “But the NHSU is set up so that people coming off New Deal into NHSsupport roles become interested in learning and get on the skills escalator tobecome the professionals of tomorrow. It’s introducing the idea that whetheryou’re a doctor or a domestic, you need some of the same sort of training – forexample, on dealing with patients or health and safety.” The learning culture will start on an employee’s first day. In a nationalinduction programme designed to complement local inductions, recruits will beprimed on the NHS and where they fit into it, as well as the importance ofcommunication skills and learning. For example, a secretary who is startingwork in a mental health unit would learn how to deal with schizophrenicpatients. “We want to focus on bottom-up training so that there’s a motivatingforce for all people,” said Catherine Hastings, another member of theexecutive board. More than 60 trusts have now signed up to the programme, and a further 50are expected to join by the end of the year, until all of the 140,000 annualNHS recruits are streamed into the programme. Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust will be among the firstto pilot the induction programme. NHSU and clinical leadership facilitator Jayne Toplis hopes it will helpdevelop its staff across the board. “Being involved in the pilot gives us a real chance to shape NHSeducation and training, and by encouraging a learning culture that valuesstaff, we can provide a better quality service,” Toplis said. The NHSU portion of the induction gives staff the big picture on working forthe NHS so they can think beyond their current roles and local employers,Toplis believes. The Association of Healthcare Human Resource Managers (AHHRM), which enjoysa close strategic relationship with the university, is enthusiastic because theNHSU should prove a valuable HR tool. In theory, it saves HR professionals having to update their own inductionprogrammes and should help them achieve their goals under the NHS plan. “Although the NHSU won’t immediately help HR managers meet theirtargets under the Investing in Working Lives scheme, it will help HR meet thenext stage in the targets,” said AHHRM vice-president Peter King. “Ifyou’ve got to provide lifelong learning to your employees, any trainingavailable on a national level will take a bit of the burden off us.” As part of the 12-strong first tranche of training programmes, there will bea post-graduate qualification in first contact so that nurses, paramedics andallied healthcare professionals can diagnose and treat minor health problemswithout deferring to a doctor. Another popular innovation is foundation degrees, which open up careeropportunities to staff with no formal qualifications. Hospital porters, health-or social-care assistants and women returners with five years’ service can,from September, enrol on a foundation degree course to become a nurse orphysiotherapist. “We support basic skills learning,” King said. “About 30 percent of people working in health and social services don’t have qualificationsbecause hospital portering and care assistant jobs are becoming more complex ashealthcare becomes more technical.” The Department of Health has seed-funded the NHSU £30m for 2003-2004, risingto £80m in 2004-2005. Once each programme is developed, employers – and in somecases the learners themselves – will be expected to cover fees. It is hopedthat learning and skills councils will contribute to junior employees’ fees. Although the NHSU covers only England, learners across the rest of the UKwill be able to access the programmes if they wish, pending discussions withdevolved administrations. NHSU factfileAmong the NHSU’s initial programmesare:– “Working for the NHS” induction programme– First contact care – post-graduate diploma– Two management courses– Advanced communication for cancer care– Cleaning and infection control– Foundation degrees for long-servers – Junior scholarships – for socially excluded teenagers toenter the sectorNHSU fact fileTraining timelines and targets:– March 2004 NHSU to have evaluated the success of variouspilot courses focused on urgent training needs– March 2007 Framework for cross-professional, team-based skillsin place– March 2008 Vibrant learning culture created within health andsocial care Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. NHS aims for a learning cultureOn 13 Jan 2004 in Personnel Todaylast_img

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