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NHS audit finds big discrepancies in training available to staff


Two new reports published by the National Audit Office and the Audit Commission last week find that there are big variations in provision for training in the NHS around the country.

The Audit Commission review of education and training for existing and trainee nurses, midwives and other healthcare staff found that some NHS trusts spend five times as much as others on training per staff member than others. In addition, the study found that availability of development opportunities for staff varies widely, depending on where staff work and what they do. One third of staff had not agreed training needs with their managers in the last 12 months. The review also found that some NHS trusts in England and Wales do not actively plan for the training needs of nurses, therapists and other healthcare staff, and that some groups, such as part-time staff and nursing auxilliaries and assistants can miss out on training altogether.

The National Audit Office report emphasised the need for stronger links between Higher Education and the NHS trusts, in particular to work to increase the number of practice placements, which places a constraint on the number of students which could be taken on (the Audit Commission also found that in a minority of trusts, over a quarter of the post-qualification training places are not being used). The report also stated that although Higher Education institutions were currently managing the increased number of students entering since 1994, some were reaching maximum capacity.

The Audit Commission has published a recommendation that trusts need to make a clearer connections between changes in the services they provide and the implications for staff training, should review and analyse their training spend, and that they should also look to develop more flexible training to improve access for all staff.


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