The NHS is set to benefit from Sector Skills Council (SSC) status after
being awarded a first-stage development contract.
As part of the development contract, the budding SSC, Skills for Health
(SFH), will now be expected to produce a business plan by September. Once this
has been achieved, the Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) should confirm
it is to gain a full five-year SSC contract.
SSCs are the employer-led training bodies that replaced the National
Training Organisations last March to try and boost the development of skills
across major industries.
SFH aims to reduce skills shortages, improve skills and increase training by
introducing competency frameworks for all healthcare staff.
The 18-strong board includes members of the NHS Confederation and two HR
directors at NHS trusts – Mervyn Barklay, HR director at Belfast City Hospital,
and Anne Coutts, HR director at United Bristol Healthcare.
Coutts said the health sector deserves an SSC because the two million-strong
workforce it serves stretches across the UK and the skills and service it
provides affects everybody.
"The requirements from the Government and expectations from the public
for the health service are high and challenging. That is why we must be able to
consistently develop the skills of the workforce without any gaps," she
David Highton, chairman of SFH, believes the body will help to increase productivity
and quality of service. "The challenge of meeting the Government’s aim of
modernising the NHS is enormous and will depend on recruiting, retaining and
improving the skills of healthcare professionals and all those who support
them," he said.
"A new SSC for health will play a key role in ensuring there are
life-long learning and development opportunities for all healthcare
staff," he added.
So far, only two sectors have been awarded full SSC status -E-Skills (the IT
SSC) and SEMTA (the Science Engineering Manufacturing Technology Alliance
There are five sectors with trailblazer status and nine have development
By Paul Nelson