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Recent reports from the DH and the NHS Forum recognise the need to support healthcare professionals with an excellent education and training system. The rationale for this is clear. Of course patient care remains our central focus but this is increasingly affected by turbulence in the external environment and drivers for change are multi-factorial. They include demographic trends associated with an ageing population, 15 million with long-term chronic disease and 60 million patient customers to be treated within financially restrained budgets. In addition, technology is constantly morphing and healthcare workers, carers and patients have to keep abreast of changes. The internal NHS landscape is also undergoing some major changes including decentralisation and the introduction of telehealth.
The need for an integrated training system is compelling but one key challenge is to provide integrated solutions in a cost effective way that also fits with busy life styles. To achieve this we must embrace 21st century technology and its likely learning mix of e-learning, simulation and face to face training.
Within this mix, we should not overlook the advantages of partnering between NHS organisations, Universities, Royal Colleges and companies to leverage advantage and maximise strengths as cost
effectively as possible. A successful example of such a partnership is the DH funded e-Learning for Healthcare (e-LfH) - www.e-lfh.org.uk - an educational web-based platform that provides quality assured on-line
training content for the UK’s healthcare workforce.
One of e-LfH’s partners is Training for Innovation (TFI) based at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital www.tfi.nhs.uk . In partnership with e-LfH and various medical device companies, TFI has so far produced 35 e-learning training programmes covering the use of medical equipment. Badged under e4E (e4Equipment) these are all accessible free of charge to NHS staff on the national learning management system (NLMS) or from the e-LfH website. As the NLMS is fully integrated with the electronic staff record (ESR) employers can readily record completion of mandatory and other training.
Worldwide estimates suggest that some 14,000 firms between them produce more than 100,000 different medical devices and the MHRA receives regular reports of adverse incidents involving medical devices, many of which might have been prevented by better training. As the diversity and technical complexity of medical products increases, training needs become ever more demanding and keeping on top of medical device training poses a significant risk for employers. The partnership between TFI, e-LfH and industry is providing a very useful component in the training of newly appointed NHS staff, nursing and medical students.
The provision of this national e-learning solution has significant advantages. The material is both consistent and quality assured. In addition staff and managers benefit from the flexibility of use and transferable training records. With today’s fast pace of change in healthcare and society appropriate partnering in the provision of quality assured training for distribution to integrated local NHS networks makes sense. The effective partnership between TFI, e-LfH and prominent medical device manufacturers makes this case loud and clear.