Hospital trust to help create national training hubs for healthcare support staff

Staff at Southampton’s teaching hospitals have helped to secure a £1.9 million government cash boost to create training and education centres for healthcare support workers nationwide.

The National Skills Academy (NSA) for Health has been awarded the funding by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in partnership with the training and development team at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust to improve access and quality of training.

Both organisations will work closely to create opportunities to help people learn new skills, retrain or start a career within a variety of clinical and non-clinical support worker roles. 

The Trust already works with a number of local training organisations to enhance learning for support workers, apprentices and career progression into more senior healthcare support roles.

This has led to the development of innovations such as new health and social care and administration foundation degrees in partnership with Southampton Solent University.

The collaborations between UHS, NSA Health and local businesses and institutions will help to create the model for the establishment of the NSA’s first network of employer-led regional centres to aid learning and development for healthcare support staff. 

The three-year investment plan will see NSA Health collaborating with healthcare employers to develop an initial network of six centres – hosted by healthcare organisations – that will bring together healthcare businesses across each region and encourage collaborations between local employers and education and training providers. 

Each centre will design and deliver new learning resources for healthcare support staff and share training expertise, while local health and care employers will be encouraged to access relevant training via the hubs.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be a particular focus of engagement, with the development process aiming to reach out to a broad range of employers including hospices, care homes, dentists, GP surgeries and pharmacies.

The first step will be the development of a questionnaire to be issued to up to 12,000 healthcare employers in England to build a picture of training and skills development needs and part of the funding will be allocated to the development of national e-learning courses.  

Anita Esser, head of wider healthcare teams education at UHS, said: “We are really pleased to be working with NSA Health on this exciting project to set up excellence centres.  

“The Trust already has a good reputation for offering training and career development for our healthcare support staff who work both directly with patients and in essential services behind-the-scenes.  

“We now want to help ensure all NHS support staff have access to the development resources they need and excellence centres will provide an ideal way to work with partners to make this happen.”

Candace Miller, director of the NSA Health, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded investment funding for such a unique “on-the-ground” project which will make a real difference to the quality of training that can be accessed regionally for healthcare support workers.  

“I would especially like to thank University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust for the leading role they have played and look forward to working collaboratively on the establishment of the centres.”  

She added: “Training for healthcare support workers – in particular in SMEs – has been previously under-recognised and underfunded. We’re confident that the NSA excellence centres will significantly improve access to training and provide a robust infrastructure for further hub developments.”

Posted on Friday 7 November 2014