NHS staff may feel they are living through a permanent revolution in healthcare with structures, roles and approaches changing rapidly. Those changes are also being reflected in what healthcare professionals are being offered in terms of development and continued education
True multidisciplinary working is a vital goal for the modern NHS − with different professional groups learning together increasingly seen as a way of achieving it. And with the Department of Health and local education and training boards now firmly behind interprofessional learning, it seems to be an idea whose time has finally come
The DH’s recent announcement of £120m to be made available for university healthcare research projects is official recognition that, far from being in the stereotypical ivory tower, academics are increasingly changing practice at the coal face. Research is feeding directly into the training of staff, while partnerships between universities and NHS organisations are being formed to develop useful studies and ensure any findings are applied as quickly as possible to improve care.
The training and development of lower band staff and support workers has historically been neglected. Now NHS organisations are waking up to the benefits of enhancing their skills – with some offering a ‘path to success’ to a nursing, physiotherapy or other professional qualification.
NHS organisations in the future will require a very different style of leadership. Experts suggest that trusts should start to think of themselves as “holding companies” − with individual services as distinct businesses that run themselves. Organisations need to build the skills of staff to prepare for a world where key decisions are handed down, often to clinicians.