31st March 2015

Image: First employer partner.The National Skills Academy for Health (NSA Health) has announced the healthcare employers who will lead the development of its Excellence Centre network to improve the quality and accessibility of training for England’s healthcare support workforce.

They join University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) who was announced last month by Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock, as the first National Skills Academy for Health Excellence Centre.

The lead employers for the first five NSA Health Excellence Centres are:

  • The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust
  • University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
  • North Bristol NHS Trust
  • The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group

There are more than half a million people working in vital support roles across the nation's healthcare workforce. The availability of high quality training for healthcare support workers has historically been inconsistent, with many managers facing difficulties accessing the essential training needed to ensure staff maintain a high level of competence and qualification.

Now, the significant investment from BIS of £1.9 million over three years looks set to revolutionise the way in which local employers can access training and skills support at a grass roots level.

Each Excellence Centre will act as a regional hub to develop strong collaborations between education and training providers and healthcare employers from the public, independent and voluntary sectors.

Together the organisations making up each Centre will design and deliver new learning resources for healthcare support staff, share training expertise and make best use of skills development facilities.

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.

In addition to the design and implementation of face-to-face and blended learning programmes, the Excellence Centres will also coordinate the development of 20 new national e-learning resources centred on patient care. These will include courses on providing excellent community care in areas such as dementia support, medicine management, and recognising signs of abuse.

Other e-learning programmes will provide support for developing key behaviours and values critical to new entrants and support for the development of clinical skills which may lead on to Apprenticeships and other advanced training, for example blood transfusion and maternity support.

Sir Hugh Taylor, Chairman of Guy’s and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and chair of the National Skills Academy for Health’s board, said: “The National Skills Academy for Health’s vision is to create a qualified and transferable workforce, with every individual recognised and valued for the skills they have, and encouraged and enabled to develop the skills they want and need.”

“In establishing the Excellence Centre network, the Academy has taken a big step towards achieving its goal.

“The development of healthcare support workers is essential for the delivery of an excellent and consistent standard of healthcare but in the past this has often been neglected and underfunded.

“Our partnership with employers and education and training providers to develop the first Excellence Centres will make a real difference to the accessibility, consistency and effectiveness of training for our vital support workforce.”