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”
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.”