Enterprise minister to see hospital's training "hub" for support staff

Government enterprise minister Matthew Hancock will visit Southampton's teaching hospitals later today (Thursday) to find out more about training opportunities for healthcare support staff.

He will meet Jo Mountfield, director of education, and Anita Esser, head of wider healthcare teams education, as well as chief executive Fiona Dalton and chairman John Trewby, before talking to support staff at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

Last year, UHS helped to secure £1.96million of funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills through its partnership with the National Skills Academy (NSA) for Health to help develop national training and education centres.

The cash boost is part of the government’s new Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot (EOP) fund and was awarded following a tender from a partnership of public, private and third sector employers working with the NHS to invest in the skills of their support staff.

The collaboration between UHS, NSA Health and local businesses and institutions will help to create a model for the establishment of the NSA’s first network of employer-led regional centres to act as “hubs” to aid learning and development for staff such as healthcare assistants.

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 three-year investment plan will see NSA Health collaborating with healthcare employers to develop an initial network of six excellence 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 e-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.

Mr Hancock said: “Support workers are the backbone of our NHS, making up 40 per cent of its workforce, providing vital assistance to doctors and nurses and important care for patients.

“NHS staff, like those at University Hospital Southampton, work tirelessly to maintain their high standards of care and we must make sure they are equipped with the skills they need to provide patients with the best possible care.”

Ms Esser, who will host the minister’s visit, added: “By working collaboratively with other employers, education providers and other partners, we will be able to provide more opportunities for support staff to gain skills and offer further career development.

“Creating a more skilled support workforce will help to meet the needs of an ageing population, with more flexible care options and will also provide essential support for more qualified clinical staff, reducing the skills gap which can lead to qualified nurses covering for support tasks and reducing their time with patients.”

Posted on Thursday 12 February 2015