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NHS support workers given £4m training boost to raise standards


NHS support workers are to receive £4.36m of joint government and industry funding to improve their skills and raise standards among the profession.

The money will be used to set up six new pilot centres in England through which employers will create skills programmes and oversee the development of a series of new national e-learning resources for support staff.

This will result in 20 new resources for staff that cover six areas of learning including skills for community care – such as dementia support and medicine management – and how to develop critical values for new entrants into the profession.

“NHS staff…work tirelessly to maintain their high standards of care and we must make sure they are supported with the right skills”

Matthew Hancock

Areas of learning will also focus on what support can be given to workers who want to progress in their career by developing foundation skills - such as English, maths and IT – or new study methods or clinical skills that could lead onto apprenticeships.

The government said it anticipates the programme will help support the creation of 10,000 additional apprentices and trainees with high skills levels to create “a more versatile and robust NHS”.

It said that a better trained support workforce would help to meet the needs of an ageing population and would also benefit more qualified clinical staff such as nurses, who often have to cover support worker tasks where there is a skills gap.

The government has provided £1.96m for the training scheme from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education through a fund designed to encourage employers to invest in their workforce.

This is being match-funded with £2.4m from a partnership of public, private and third sector employers which is working with the NHS to invest in support staff skills.

University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust is helping to lead the project. Its head of wider healthcare teams education Anita Esser said it was “vital” to develop the skills of support workers in order to deliver safe care.

Enterprise minister Matthew Hancock added: “NHS staff, like those at Southampton General Hospital, work tirelessly to maintain their high standards of care, and we must make sure that they are supported with the right skills to provide high quality care for patients.”


Readers' comments (6)

  • This is good news for support workers and for the NHS. However I am rather surprised and disappointed to read the header at the top of the article, which describes NHS support staff as a "profession". Support staff perform a vital function and give a considerable amount of care in the NHS, but since (at present at least) they are not controlled by any regulatory body and have not had to demonstrate that they have the knowledge, experience and skills necessary to meet entry standard to any professional register, I fail to see how they can really be described as a profession. I am surprised at the Nursing Times for using this term in the article.

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  • yes that is why they got rid of a band 3 that supported the staff nurse to save money with the costs and theymore a less did everything and more except drugs they also did more then some nurses in skills and often worked alone the more experienced but know all the skill we did the nurse has to learn and pass compedence so they have saved :-

    money getting rid of us to train the nurses to the same standard knowledge experience and skills plus what this 4 million is for so don't start on about the status we knew or jobs and worked to a very high standard and was carried out in a professional way and yes I will exept you don't have room to talk and research what has been put in place.

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  • An example as a Qualified Nurse, was that I was in hospital recently and witnessed some dreadful practice and procedures conducted by Professional Nursing staff. Then low and behold, a bank HCA assisting the Nurse
    came aboard and demonstrated effective care by performing some of the observations that even the nurses had failed to do. She communicated effectively, complied with infection control, health and safety legislation, dealt tactfully and diplomatically with patients.
    I really was impressed with her ability and effort, thus ensuring that I informed the Senior Nurse prior to leaving. Mores the pity that some of the Nurses could have maintained the same level of professionalism.

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  • HCSW

    Michele Charles | 13-Feb-2015 5:51 pm

    'are not controlled by any regulatory body and have not had to demonstrate that they have the knowledge'

    POVA, DBS and mandatory trainings level 2 or 3.

    Some qualified staff attitude towards HCAs is really appalling.

    Stop treating us like a pile of rubbish!

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  • Great headline, thank you Nursing Times.

    Can your next headline on CSW/HCA development be about the Care Certificate, which comes into effect from April 2015, and will affect every new recruit in Health, as well as Social Care, and their Managers and colleagues?

    Further information on the Care Certificate is on the Skills for Health/Care websites, Health Education England and NHS Employers

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  • I've worked as a bank HCA for the NHS since retirement and I feel that we are looked down on by the qualified nurses and are often ignored when reporting that a patients observations are poor or the patients who are in pain need pain relief and the patient is the one to suffer

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