Published: 22/07/2004, Volume II4, No. 5915 Page 7

Northern cardiac care network co-ordinator Jane Mulholland is so convinced of the value of the Skills for Health competence framework for coronary heart disease she agreed to appear in a video spelling out the benefits.

The framework has already been used to map the competences of all elements of the training courses currently available around the subject of heart failure.

'We have a vision of where we want to be in CHD and the framework is helping us to reach that point, ' says Ms Mulholland, based in Sunderland.

She says that currently there is a lot of duplication within, for example, the secondary prevention and the rehabilitation courses.

'Our plan is to break the courses down into a series of discrete sessions, all related to CHD, ' she explains.

'Staff can then pick out the sessions relevant to their own skill gaps and spend time on those.'

The northern network is already working with local primary care trusts and both Sunderland and Northumbria universities to develop the approach.

At the same time as mapping the competences of future training courses, Ms Mulholland says it is essential to match those to the skills required for CHD management.

On the video she says that in Tyne and Wear CHD nurses would be divided into three levels, caring for patients at different stages of the illness.

'When we need people to assess patients for exercise, do we need a nurse, a physiotherapist or a physical activity instructor - or do we need to create a new role?' she asks.'The framework is helping find an answer.'

She believes that eventually the framework will provide a national benchmark for CHD training.'When staff move from one area of the country to another, employers can be assured of their skills.'