Every NHS organisation that receives government cash will have to publish how much it spends on staff training each year, under plans unveiled in Lord Darzi’s flagship report on the future of the health service last week.
All trusts and NHS bodies will have to sign the government’s skills pledge, and Darzi said staff would be encouraged to hold their employers to account on the money set aside for learning and development.
The report, High Quality Care For All, said making organisations publish details of their training expenditure would allow NHS staff to make “more informed” choices about where they worked.
But Alastair Henderson, acting director at workforce body NHS Employers, said he was unsure whether this method would be effective. “Transparency is a good thing, but just a measure of expenditure is a somewhat blunt tool, because you could spend a lot of money [on training] without great quality,” he said.
The NHS had to move beyond just seeing continuing professional development as sending someone on a training course, Henderson added. “It could involve job-shadowing, coaching or mentoring the emphasis should be on quality and the role [this development] plays in the workplace,” he said.
Despite accusations from NHS unions that money for training had previously been redirected by trusts to cover deficits elsewhere, funding will not be ringfenced.
Darzi also wants more nursing staff to opt out of the NHS and sell their services back as not-for-profit social enterprises. Existing pension rights will be preserved, a new right to request such a move introduced, and three-year contracts awarded to encourage more staff to set up independently.
Tougher recruitment procedures will also be looked at to prevent poorly-performing senior managers moving on to other NHS organisations.