Skills for Health offers a range of services to healthcare leaders to improve the quality of their workforce's skills. John Rogers offers guidance on the tools available

In his far-reaching review of the NHS, Lord Darzi shares a vision for a health service that empowers staff and gives patients choice. Care will be personalised and fair, deliver the most effective treatments within a safe system and help people stay healthy.

It is particularly pleasing to see A High Quality Workforce launched alongside and in direct response to the main report. The workforce report emphasises the central role a highly skilled and flexible workforce will play in delivering Lord Darzi's vision. It focuses not only on the contributions of doctors, nurses, midwives, allied health professions and scientists, but also recognises the key role of the wider healthcare workforce and the critical need for a whole-team approach.

The report reflects extensive conversations held with employers about their workforce needs. The consistent message coming through is that a workforce must be able to respond to changing needs because today's healthcare sector faces more challenges than ever before. Technological advances, changing demographics, an ageing workforce and evolving health needs all contribute to a challenging mix that healthcare managers and professionals need to respond to.

Skills evolution

Skills for Health, the sector skills council for the UK health sector, has been responding to these challenges in the UK. Its teams are already working with partnerships and health sector employers to change the way skill needs are identified and addressed. It has been helping employers and clinicians develop some of the new ideas referenced in the workforce report.

Teams and tools from Skills for Health have already been used by local employers to maximise staff input and collectively make a greater contribution to local healthcare services - delivering real benefits and improvements to patient care. The solutions it has developed have been proven to deliver measurable improvements to services.In practical terms, it offers a range of free products, services, applications and tools to support employers in transforming their workforce and tackling challenges at policy, national and local level.

The range of specially designed resources are for the entire health sector - the NHS, independent healthcare providers and voluntary organisations. The resources include planning and redesign tools and case studies telling how fellow managers and healthcare professionals have re-developed their workforces. Skills for Health also provides wider labour market intelligence detailing healthcare workforce trends across the UK and in the English regions.

To find out more, go to www.skillsforhealth.org.uk

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