Lean NHS institute boosts training days for staff

The number of NHS staff receiving at least three days training a year is to be boosted significantly under ambitious government plans to bring health service training under one roof.

On 1 July, the NHS Modernisation Agency, the Leadership Centre and the online National Health Service University (NHSU) – itself created less than two years ago – were merged into a new Institute for Innovation and Improvement.

The body, which is just for England, will be based at the University of Warwick. It will have a budget of £80m a year, and will employ around 170 people.

Health minister Lord Warner said the new organisation would be “much leaner” and focused on the development of new ideas, technologies and practices rather than providing large-scale training programmes.

In practice, this means that it will provide direction and strategy, while commissioning out the actual provision, either to external providers or NHS trainers.

But training experts warned it will need to communicate very clearly what benefits it can bring to staff and trainers if it is to succeed.

John Batchelor, director for the Breaking Through leadership development programme from the Leadership Centre, welcomed the new body, but added: “It has got to be communicated that this new institute stands for x, y or z. Unless people can see the value it is bringing into their organisation then, like the [online university] NHSU, it might fail two to three years down the line.”

One of the institute’s goals is to boost the number of NHS staff receiving at least three days’ training a year from 54% to 80% by 2008.

The institute will be led by former Health Development Agency chairwoman Dame Yve Buckland and Shropshire and Staffordshire Health Authority chief executive Professor Bernard Crump.

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