As one of the most important British institutions celebrates its 66th anniversary this week, the team at Trinity PR discusses the legacy and future of the NHS with John Rogers, CEO of Skills for Health, the Sector Skills Council for Health:
Why do you think it’s important to mark the anniversary of the NHS?
Because the NHS is unique, respected across the world and should be treasured. Since its launch in 1948, the NHS has become an organisation that helps to define the UK. A recent Ipsos Mori poll reported that the NHS is the organisation that makes people most proud to be British (above the army, royal family and the BBC). However, negative stories make news. We know that the NHS is not perfect – but we also need to celebrate all that is good about the NHS – which is always there when we need it most.
What difference is an organisation like Skills for Health making to the NHS workforce?
Skills for Health contributes widely to workforce development. One of our main contributions is supporting the development of the wider workforce and apprenticeships. We also play a key role in working with employers to re-design their workforce to support the NHS as it moves forward to a new era. Resources such as the new Roles Directory and Employability Skills Matrix are great examples of free tools that have been designed with accessibility and ease of use in mind. We believe that providing expert guidance on building the right roles in our health service (as well as identifying the skills and training pathways needed) is part of a wider picture to ensure consistent productivity, quality, efficiency and above all, the very best in patient care.
What impact do you think recent, high profile reviews have had on the NHS workforce?
Both the Francis Inquiry Report (Feb 2013) and the Cavendish Review (July 2013) have had a significant impact on the way that we view the needs of the NHS workforce to achieve a more consistent and higher standard of patient care. Whilst the tragedies that initiated these reviews cannot be forgotten, they have introduced a new era of openness and transparency, with a firm focus on compassion and patient care.
This willingness to assess the delivery of care and review the skills, training and leadership across all Levels in the NHS workforce, provides a more open environment for Skills for Health to work collaboratively with the NHS to develop a more skilled and effective whole workforce.
Could you some of the key issues for the future for the NHS workforce?
Recruitment and retention are always key issues in any workforce – but is particularly pertinent in the NHS. While the NHS is the UK’s largest employer and has a strong and loyal existing workforce, we need to think very carefully about creating the right opportunities for the next generation to enter the sector.
In the past year, we have seen the launch of the new National Skills Academy for Health – an inspiring new initiative led by employers which provides a government sponsored ‘national partner’, working on behalf of employers (across the NHS, independent and voluntary sectors) to improve skills and support workforce development strategies. The Academy has a strong focus on developing the support workforce, helping employers to effectively utilise apprenticeships and the transition of young people into the NHS workforce.
From our existing work on academies I am very aware of the number of young people just joining the NHS workforce with great enthusiasm and a real desire to “make a difference” for patients. We have a responsibility to encourage them to maintain their commitment to high quality compassionate care and steer them in the right direction, whether through apprenticeships, appropriate training, and other skills development. It is only by doing this that we can ensure a strong, well-trained and patient-centred workforce for the future.
To see more of this interview visit the Skills For Health website at