Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) has awarded over £1bn worth of healthcare professional education contracts to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), to be delivered over the next 10 years.
The contracts supply a range of courses across a wide number of specialities, including adult, children and mental health nursing, midwifery, occupational therapy, podiatry, speech and language therapy, and biomedical science. They will also support the workforce needs of health boards for the next decade.
This involved HEIW carrying out extensive stakeholder engagement and international best practice research, which led to numerous key themes being embedded into the contract specifications, to meet the future healthcare needs of Wales.
Key themes included a more local or regional approach to healthcare professional education, through delivering more education closer to, or in all health board areas, offering part time education programmes for some disciplines.
Recruiting students from disadvantaged areas and hard to reach communities in Wales was also a focal point in the contracts, including enabling students to learn and utilise the Welsh language.
Chris Jones, Chair of HEIW, said: “This has been a huge piece of work reflecting the importance of high-quality healthcare education and patient care in Wales. The approaches to widening access and grounding training in our communities will equip our students to serve well the needs of the population going forward.
“We’re looking forward to working with universities and Health Boards to bring this modern approach to life and equipping students with the skills, knowledge and experience to embark on successful and fulfilling careers.”
During the last few months, this has been the largest commissioning process for HEIW when it comes to tendering and awarding contracts, as a means to deliver modern healthcare professional pre-registration education.
Some of the benefits for those in Wales includes:
- Increased and strengthened placements opportunities in Primary, Social and Community care
- Embedding technologies to enhance teaching, student support and placement preparation
- Integrating the digital environment into learning
- An enhanced approach to inter-professional education
- More flexible and part-time routes across many professions and more parts of Wales
- Closer Regional Collaborative Education Consortium working arrangements
- Compassionate Leadership embedded in all pre-registration education
All the HEI bidders are now in a “10-day standstill period”, where they are able to challenge the decision and or raise any queries. Contracts will be issued to successful bidders ready for education delivery to begin in September 2022, if there are no formal challenges by the end of this period.