Learning for Everyone - A Development Plan for the NHS
The Department of Health's Consultation Document
The UNISON Scotland Response
UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Executive's
questions set in relation to the Department of Health consultation
paper on the establishment of a NHS University.
UNISON Scotland welcomes the establishment of NHS University.
We are pleased that this new organisation will focus on developing
the potential of ALL staff in the NHS. UNISON Scotland
believes that this is a major development in adult learning in
the UK and welcomes the Government's commitment to ensuring that
the NHS will become a learning organisation and that learning
in the workplace will be a priority for funding and development.
UNISON Scotland is broadly supportive of the proposals contained
in the consultation document, which will widen access to learning
opportunities for those workers in the NHS who have not traditionally
taken part in post-school education and training. UNISON Scotland
firmly believes that the NHSU has the potential to greatly enhance
learning in the workplace and offer those on low incomes the chance
to acquire new skills and competencies and the opportunity to
further develop their potential.
UNISON Scotland also welcomes the proposals to establish NHSU
learning pathways into employment in the NHS for young people
from socially excluded backgrounds. UNISON Scotland is pleased
that the Government is showing such a high level of commitment
to ensuring an inclusive partnership between the wider community
and the NHS.
UNISON Scotland believes that learning has the ability to transform
lives and we welcome the overall vision of the NHSU set out in
the consultation document.
However, UNISON Scotland has reservations concerning the merits
of the full-scale adoption of NHSU arrangements and structures
within the learning framework of NHS Scotland. We believe that
the full assimilation of the NHSU model without prior consultation
with NHS Education for Scotland would be problematic and raise
a real danger of the two organisations duplicating effort.
UNISON is Scotland's biggest health union representing thousands
of NHS staff throughout the country. Our members include nursing,
ancillary and clerical staff, all of whom the NHS depends upon
to ensure the safe and effective functioning of the NHS in Scotland.
This paper constitutes UNISON Scotland's response to the questions
posed by the Executive in relation to the Department of Health's
consultation document entitled: ‘A Development Plan for the NHS
- Learning for Everyone'.
The UK Government launched the
consultation document, Learning for Everyone, in November
2002 with the stated aim of establishing a university for the
NHS. The NHSU is being set up by the Government to support the
modernisation of the NHS. The NHSU will focus solely on providing
practical learning for more than 1.6 million people who work for
and with the NHS.
The Government envisages that the NHSU will be guided in its
development by the following principles:
- Equity of access to learning for all who work in the NHS
- Relevance to the needs of the service and to individuals
- Learning in a place and at a time that suits individual needs
- Advice and guidance for learners throughout all stages of
- Opportunities for Multi-professional learning
- High quality in all aspects of local delivery
Although the ‘Learning for Everyone' consultation was prepared
by the Department of Health with an English interpretation in
mind, the Scottish Executive has decided to publish a short consultation
exercise comprising of seven questions on the issues surrounding
the geographical reach of the NHSU and the possible scope of its
operation in Scotland.
This paper is UNISON Scotland's response to the above mentioned
Scottish Executive consultation exercise.
- What do you think of the proposed overall vision for NHSU?
UNISON Scotland commends the Governments breadth of vision
in establishing a NHS University and especially welcomes those
proposals within the consultation document, which are designed
to unlock and extend the skills and talents of staff, at all
levels, within the NHS.
UNISON Scotland welcomes the Governments commitment in the
consultation document to ensure the NHSU works in partnership
and collaboration with a wide
range of bodies, including trade unions. UNISON Scotland believes
that the trade union movement has a clear role to play in ensuring
the effective functioning of the NHSU and that only through
working in partnership with the trade unions will the NHSU be
able to fully develop the potential of all staff in the NHS.
UNISON Scotland is broadly supportive of the NHSU strategy
to provide a comprehensive range of learning services for NHS
staff and the plans to provide a wide-ranging package of support
structures for new learners. UNISON Scotland believes that the
development of these support structures must be given a high
priority as many of those who will be accessing these new learning
opportunities provided by the NHSU, will be doing so from a
low skills base initially. We believe that without proper structures
for confidence building and support there will be a high incidence
of withdrawals from NHSU courses by those members of staff who
stand to benefit the most from these new learning opportunities.
UNISON Scotland is pleased that the Government has made a commitment
to ensuring the highest international standards are adopted
in the provision of learning services within the NHSU. However,
UNISON Scotland would urge the NHSU to ensure that the criteria
for securing learning services from outside agencies be based
on a commitment to public services, competence to do the job
and ability to deliver, and not on cost.
UNISON Scotland, along with other NHS trade unions know only
to well the true costs of contracting out essential NHS services
to private companies. UNISON Scotland firmly believes that in
order to ensure the development and improvement of staff learning
and healthcare delivery, all providers of services to the NHSU
must be able to demonstrate not only competency in their ability
to do the job but also a commitment to public services.
In addition, UNISON Scotland welcomes the Governments commitment
in the consultation document to the adoption of a patient centred
learning approach in the NHSU. UNISON Scotland welcomes this
approach to learning within the NHS and believes that putting
the needs of patients and carers at the heart of learning will
have a positive effect on the quality of care delivered within
- How well do you think the model proposed could work in
UNISON Scotland believes the NHSU model contains much that is
to be commended especially in terms of contributing to the development
and modernisation of the NHS. We believe the Government to have
shown initiative in pressing forward with the plans to establish
a learning culture within NHS and believe that the NHSU, in time,
can evolve into an integral component in supporting the NHS to
provide world-class public health care in the UK.
However, UNISON Scotland also believes that much of what the
NHSU proposes in terms of fulfilling the personal learning and
development needs of NHS staff in Scotland already falls within
the remit of the Special Health Board, NHS Education Scotland.
UNISON Scotland has reservations therefore concerning the value
of the full-scale adoption of NHSU arrangements and structures
within the learning framework of NHS Scotland. UNISON Scotland
believes it neither practical nor feasible to adopt wholesale
the NHSU blueprint that has been established for England and Wales.
We believe that the full assimilation of the NHSU model with Scottish
arrangements for NHS staff learning and development would be problematic
and raise a real danger of the two organisations duplicating effort
and wasting both economic and human resources.
3.What sort of contributions do you think NHSU could usefully
make in Scotland?
Whilst being aware of the similarity in aims, objectives of NHS
Education for Scotland and the NHSU in England and Wales, UNISON
Scotland also recognises that there are important areas of divergence
between the respective organisations.
UNISON Scotland believes that NHS Education for Scotland, established
as an umbrella organisation of three different professional healthcare
bodies covering medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and nursing, will
in the short to medium term continue to concentrate its focus
on promoting and supporting the learning needs of professional
Conversely the principles, which will guide the development of
the NHSU emphasise access for all NHS staff to learning opportunities
and also equity of access, ensuring that the learning services
provided by the NHSU take into account the wide range of backgrounds
and aspirations of all NHS staff.
UNISON Scotland believes therefore that of the two organisations,
the NHSU has the greater potential to provide learning opportunities,
which are inclusive, accessible and relevant to those staff employed
in non-professional occupations within the NHS.
UNISON Scotland believes that the NHSU has the potential to make
a significant contribution to improving service delivery and patient
care within Scotland if a partnership, based on shared knowledge
and experience could be established between NHS Education for
Scotland and the NHSU.
4. How do you think that NHSU could support current and future
education arrangements in Scotland?
UNISON Scotland recognises that NHS Education for Scotland has
legal authority for overseeing the provision, delivery and implementation
of healthcare education and training in Scotland. However, UNISON
Scotland believes that because of the NHSU commitment to an ‘inclusive
ethos' it would be advantageous if the NHSU, perhaps working in
partnership with NHS Education for Scotland, contribute in delivering
learning and training for non-professional staff groups in NHS
5. What should be done to ensure that the possible benefits
described in the NHSU paper are realised?
UNISON Scotland believes that trade unions have a clear role
to play in ensuring that the potential benefits of the NHSU are
realised. We believe that by developing partnerships with health
service trade unions the NHSU would benefit from our experience
in the in the development of support initiatives and educational
tools for our own membership.
UNISON Scotland also believes that greater involvement of staff
in the governance and management of higher education institutions,
both by the inclusion of staff on governing bodies and by real
involvement with partnership would be beneficial for the NHSU.
With the NHSU being responsible for researching, developing and
delivering a wide portfolio of learning programmes UNISON Scotland
believes that it is important for NHS staff and patients in Scotland
to benefit from this experience.
UNISON Scotland believes that in order for both staff and patients
of NHS Scotland to benefit from the learning potential and advances
in patient care offered by the NHSU, NHS Education for Scotland
needs to forge strong links between itself and the NHSU.
UNISON Scotland believes that only by the establishment of a
strategic alliance between the two organisations can NHS Scotland
fully share in the learning and healthcare benefits offered by
6. What are the benefits the NHSU might derive by operating
UNISON Scotland is confident that benefits would flow in both
directions from an alliance between NHS Education for Scotland
and the NHSU. In practical terms, Unison Scotland believes that
joint involvement in the design; preparation and implementation
of learning programmes can benefit the NHSU by developing its
capability to better support learning and improve patient care.
UNISON Scotland also believes the NHSU would benefit from research
partnerships with Scottish medical research institutions, many
of whom have an excellent standing in the world of medical research.
In addition, UNISON Scotland believes that the input from NHS
Scotland staff, patients and trade unions would strengthen NHSU
experience and knowledge in the provision of learning programmes
and add extra value to the learning experiences of other staff
in the NHS.
7. Are there broader implications that should be considered?
UNISON Scotland believes that adjustments suited to Scottish
needs must be implemented in the delivery of any NHSU learning
programmes. We believe that a ‘one size fits all' approach to
healthcare provision would be counter productive and consideration
of local practices must be respected in the planning, implementation
and delivery of NHSU learning programmes within NHS Scotland.
For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel 0141-332 0006 Fax 0141 342 2835
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