Details of a new system of checks designed to test the values of applicants to nursing courses, and potentially qualified staff applying for new posts, have been launched, Nursing Times can reveal.
The system of scenario tests and interview questions has been specifically designed to check individuals have the right values to be a nurse.
From next April, all students applying to study a nursing degree in England will face the values-based assessments as part of efforts to help institutionalise a change in culture within the NHS. Health Education England, which has developed the new values-based recruitment framework, also hopes it will become standard practice for all employers when recruiting both clinical and non-clinical staff to jobs in the NHS.
The evidence based framework was due to be officially launched on Tuesday and brings together a specific toolkit of methods to test an individual’s personal values.
“I’m not claiming this is the answer to everything, it’s part of the national process to transform the culture of the NHS”
Under the new system, universities will be required to carry out face-to-face interviews with course applicants that include questions designed to tease out their values. In addition, they will be required to use the interviews in conjunction with situational judgment tests, which look at how an individual is likely to respond to specific situations.
It has been developed in the wake of the Francis report into failures at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, though the idea of testing job applicants and students for behaviours like compassion has been the subject of debate in the profession for a number of years.
Sir Robert Francis said students and staff should be tested for their values as part of ways to ensure the NHS had a culture of caring and putting the patient first.
Health Education England said it would contractually require all universities, covering more than 630 separate courses, to use the toolkit when recruiting students. It will also require patients and the public to be involved in the process.
While some universities are already carrying out some form of values assessment, a study by Health Education England in August found 28% were not individually interviewing students.
Professor Nicki Latham, chief operating officer at Health Education England, said the new assessments were aimed at introducing consistent standards for recruitment and ensuring students had the values required to work in the NHS.
She said: “There is evidence behind this – there are key areas that you can test someone for values through structured interviews, assessment centres or situational judgment tests, for example. There is a lot of good practice going on already and this is a really positive way to share that across the NHS.”
“I’m not claiming this is the answer to everything, it’s part of the national process to transform the culture of the NHS,” she said.
“But the one thing that will always remain the same is that we need staff with the right values. This will give us a consistent set of values across the NHS. It will become institutionalised,” she added.
The Care Quality Commission, NHS England, NHS Employers and other national bodies have all signed up to the framework and will each assess their own board members against the tool.
The Department of Health has commissioned a longitudinal study to track student nurses recruited after next April in order to assess the impact of the framework.
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