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28.05.13

£5bn for Health Education England to overhaul training and skills

The Government has published its mandate to Health Education England (HEE), which it expects to lead to a wide-ranging series of measures to improve the “training, values and education” of all NHS staff over the next two years and beyond.

It includes a target for at least half of student nurses to do community placements by March 2015, reflecting the changing priorities in the health service and the gradual shift away from a focus on hospital settings.

HEE will be accountable to ministers for delivering the goals set in the mandate and its £5bn budget, in much the same way that NHS England has become responsible for the main health service budget under a mandate to deliver certain services.

Health minister Dr Dan Poulter (pictured above, centre) said the new arms-length body will give NHS training and education “unprecedented focus and importance”.

He said: “As people are living longer with more complex medical and care needs, so must we ensure that our NHS workforce has the right skills and values to provide more care in the community for older patients as well as to give each and every child the very best start in life. Plans for the future training and recruitment of our NHS will lead to better working lives for staff and better care for patients.”

The commitments that HEE has to act to deliver and improve include:

  • Better care for people with dementia and with complex needs;
  • 100,000 staff to have foundation level dementia training by March 2014 with plans in place to extend this further by autumn 2013;
  • Training a multidisciplinary workforce able to work in both hospitals and the community, with a target of 50 per cent of medical students becoming GPs;
  • More nurses to be trained in the community, with at least 50% of student nurses doing community placements as part of their training by March 2015.

HEE must also deliver a new five-year workforce plan to ensure the right levels of staffing and training across the health service workforce by autumn 2013, including a commitment to tackle historical shortages in doctors working in emergency medicine.

It’s also responsible for ensuring enough midwives and other maternity staff are trained and available to provide every woman with personalised one-to-one care. Royal College of Midwives chief executive Cathy Warwick said: “These commitments are very welcome. On paper this looks good but it has got to be put into action and the government have to ensure this happens. I want to look back at the end of the timescales the Government have laid out and see that all of this actually happened, and I look forward to working with them and HEE to make it a reality.”

Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive of Health Education England, said: “Our mandate from the Government sets out clearly the plans for education and training that will be the cornerstone for the delivery of high quality, effective, compassionate care, by recruiting for values and training for skills. Our £5bn budget will allow us to recruit, train and develop a workforce that will deliver improved care to patients.”

More information on the themes and commitments in the mandate are available at www.gov.uk/government/news/new-era-of-education-and-training-for-nhs-staff

(Library image of Dr Dan Poulter at Newham hospital copyright Department of Health)

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