NHS Education for Scotland

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					                             NHS Education for Scotland

                           Learning and Development Strategy

1. Background

The key outcome for the NHS Scotland ‘Learning Together’ Strategy for education, training
and lifelong learning for all employees in the NHS is to build an even better health service for
the people of Scotland through the continuous development of its employees. The Strategy
for lifelong learning, Opportunity Scotland, is also part of the Scottish Executive’s approach
to education and training across all sectors and the Executive expects all organisations in
NHS Scotland to adopt the principles of Opportunity Scotland in developing their own
strategies for education, training and lifelong learning.

The challenge for NES is to support the modernisation of the NHS through changing the way
that people in the NHS work. It is recognised that all involved have to adapt and develop,
and to do this they will need to learn and keep on learning. A central theme of Learning
Together, is therefore, the recognition that ‘learning is vital to delivering modern, high
quality, responsive health care’ and to respond to this ‘employees will require flexible skills
and the support to maximise their potential’. (Source: Learning Together) Through
implementation of this strategy the Executive seeks to ‘extend the existing education, training
and development culture within the NHS in Scotland and to encourage planned investment in
people’. (Source: ‘Towards a New Way of Working’).

2. Commitment to Education, Training and Lifelong Learning

On 1 April 2002, NHS Education for Scotland (NES) was established to provide, in time, an
integrated and coherent means of supporting education for employees in the NHS in
Scotland, capable of taking a multi-disciplinary approach to ensuring fitness for purpose. The
organisation combines the resources of three predecessor organisations, which were
abolished on 31 March 2002, namely:

The National Board for Nursing Midwifery and Health Visiting for Scotland;
The Post-Qualification Education Board for Pharmacists; and
The Scottish Council for Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education.

(Source: NES…the Basics).

The Learning and Development Strategy for NES sets out the support and encouragement
which is available to NES employees to enable them to develop and maintain the skills and
knowledge necessary to deliver NES’ strategic objectives.


3. Principles

Employees will be encouraged by line managers to take greater responsibility for their own
learning and will be supported and encouraged to keep up-to-date and acquire new skills.
Support will include access to appropriate learning resources and to induction training.

Employees will have the opportunity to discuss their development needs with their line
managers/senior professional colleagues at regular intervals, normally not less than once per
year and to identify learning opportunities. Career development needs of all employees will
be assessed and given equal consideration.

People learn through study, experience, personal reflection and shared learning. Lifelong
learning is not just about going on courses and employees will be encouraged to access a
wide, flexible range of learning opportunities including those which information technology
is increasingly making possible.

As an outcome of appraisal, personal development plans will be prepared to support
continuous development. The action agreed should reflect the needs, learning styles and
preferences of the individual as well as supporting the service priorities of NES. Personal
development plans will, consequently, inform local learning plans. An Organisational
Learning Plan will be developed in partnership with the NES Partnership Forum and
published annually.

A workforce needs assessment statement will be developed to address any new skills needed
to deliver planned organisational changes so that planning for learning is an integral feature
of planning for change. The NES Partnership Forum will have a key role to play in
identifying learning needs linked to strategic developments and in promoting innovative ways
of meeting these learning needs.

4. Supporting a Learning Organisation

A learning organisation promotes and supports learning by all its employees, as part of a
continuous process of development. It encourages self-development at all levels of the
organisation, giving employees the opportunity to achieve their potential and to have their
achievements recognised. It places employees at the heart of its organisational development
strategy and plans investment in its people.

It should be recognised, however, that careers are not purely about promotion but also about
personal satisfaction gained from developing new skills and techniques. The future direction
of the NHS is dependent on change and in managing change and the challenge for all NHS
employees is to work flexibly and to embrace change as a normal feature of working life.

NES brings together the commitment to employees development from its predecessor
organisations through its Employees Learning and Development policy, Continuing
Education policy and Induction policy. This commitment extends to the identification of the
investment required to meet training and development needs identified through NES-
recognised appraisal schemes, and the resultant personal development plans, local learning

plans and organisational learning plans. Employees undertake a significant part of their
training ‘on-the-job’ but also have the opportunity to attend training courses through
university employees development units, in-house and with external private providers.

NES’ strategic objectives include the continuation of support and development of education
and training initiatives for clinicians throughout Scotland and in support of this a number of
training specialists are employed.

Ultimately, however, NES is intended to support education for all employees in the NHS in
Scotland, and a further strategic objective is to progressively include additional employees
groups. NES will gear its contribution to best advantage for the health services and for
patients and assess where additional support is most needed. (Source: NES…The Basics). By
actually encouraging its own employees to recognise and take action to meet their own
ongoing educational needs. NES will aim to nurture a climate where learning and
development are integral to service development.

Through sharing these resources widely across regional boundaries, opportunities for learning
and for employee development can be available throughout the regions through a cross
fertilisation of ideas and initiatives. Similarly, educational facilities such as libraries, the
NHSScotland e-library and Postgraduate Centre facilities will be made accessible for those
pursuing educational activities.

To underpin the support that NES will make towards becoming a learning organisation, it
will actively pursue external accreditation of its processes.

5. National Occupational Standards

It is important to reflect that training and education is not solely about achieving professional
and academic success but that workplace competencies are properly demonstrated and
valued, particularly through nationally accepted and accredited qualifications.

Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are a standard way of recognising an individual’s
ability to meet National Occupational Standards in the workplace. They provide a useful
means of achieving a balance between work and access to structured learning through
recognised national standards. NES will pursue the development of a programme of SVQs
which demonstrates and recognises individual competence i.e. programmes based on
assessment in the work setting against national standards.

6. Widening Access to Learning

As part of its commitment to extending the benefits of education and training to all, the
following initiatives have been sponsored by the Scottish Executive of NHSScotland to
widen access to learning. NES will assess how these opportunities may be included in its
widening role for all employees in the NHS.


The Return to Learn scheme developed by UNISON and the Workers Educational
Association (WEA) is a package of training to encourage employees back into further
education by building their confidence and developing their learning skills, providing
opportunities for individuals to complement work experience with more structured learning.

Modern Apprenticeships provide a route into NHS employment for young entrants with few
traditional qualifications. The modern apprentice is employed while undertaking structured
training and work experience leading typically to SVQ Level III. Modern apprenticeships
apply to clinical and non-clinical training, including those in administrative, financial and
technical posts.

The New Deal initiative subsidises employers who take unemployed people into an
employment and training package for an initial six-month period, but with a view to
permanent employment.

(Source: Learning Together, Chapter 4)

7. Induction

A basic opportunity for learning within the NHS, which is a vital part of the learning process
for employees, is induction training. Sound induction is essential if new employees are to
understand their role in the organisation and to work effectively in a safe environment. NES
recognises that there is a local as well as a national aspect to induction and will work towards
the development of a two tier approach to induction for all new employees including those
working on a temporary, agency or locum basis. To support this commitment, NES has
developed an Induction policy, which incorporates the minimum standards set within the
draft PIN Guideline on Induction Training.

8. Learning Plans

NHS organisations are expected to work in partnership with their Partnership Forums to
develop and publish annual local and organisational learning plans and this will be taken up
through the NES Partnership Forum agenda. The emphasis will be on outputs and outcomes,
rather that on input and process. Local learning plans will be a ‘shop-window’ for the
learning opportunities and development activities available to employees’.

Learning plans should reflect the following:
 the range of learning opportunities available to employees locally, the scope for tailoring
   flexible programmes to suit individual and/or departmental needs, and how employees
   can access such opportunities;
 specific objectives for learning, and the identification of how these objectives will support
   local service development plans;
 the local investment in education and training should explain how, over time, these
   resources will be targeted to support local learning priorities and to tackle inequalities;
 examples of best practice and their benefits for employees and patients;
 local initiatives and new partnerships with other NHS organisations, educational, social
   care or private sector bodies aimed at improving access to flexible learning opportunities.

The Partnership Forum will have a key role in monitoring the delivery and effectiveness of
local learning plans and ensuring that evaluation of all training and development activities
takes place to ensure that outputs and outcomes are effective in contributing to NES’ strategic

(Source: Learning Together, Chapter 3)

9. Conclusions

The development of NES as an organisation is an opportunity to develop to be an exemplar
learning organisation within NHSScotland. Its strategic energies are focused on continuous
development and this focus should be inclusive of all employees so that personal,
professional and organisational needs can be met.

By taking forward: the principles and plans outlined above; the development of personal
development plans, local learning plans and organisational learning plans; the
implementation of a formal induction programme; the take-up of SVQs and wider initiatives
where appropriate; and the external accreditation of standard NES aims to support its
employees and to encourage continuous development to support its strategic objectives.

NES aims to encourage employees to fulfil these objectives by supporting employees to
become multi-skilled wherever possible and to improve multi-disciplinary/team working.
This should be achievable through encouraging employees who have the necessary aptitude
and commitment to take a joint responsibility for their own development.

10. Action Notes

The themes of Learning Together set out the requirements to:

   establish local mechanisms for communication and implementation
   identify a person to lead Learning Together within the organisation
   consider how, with the Partnership Forum, what the key issues are for preparing and
    implementing local learning plans
   ensure that workforce needs assessments are submitted to the Board as part of any
    proposal to develop services
   promote equal opportunity of access to study facilities
   set targets and action plans for take-up of SVQs, Return to Learn and Modern
   set targets for and review action on the New Deal
   provide induction training for all new employees
   put mechanisms in place for all employees to have personal development plans

                                                                           Ratified by NES
                                                                            Board on
                                                                           18 November 2003


March 2003


Learning Together: A Strategy for Training, Education and Lifelong learning for all
employees in the NHS in Scotland (1999)

NES…The Basics (2002)

HDL (2001) 67 NHS Commitment to the New Deal

HDL (2001) 78 NHS Scotland’s commitment to SVQs and Modern Apprenticeships

Towards a New Way of Working (2000)

Draft PIN Guideline: Induction Training

PIN Guideline: Personal Development Planning and Review