Published: 24/02/2005, Volume II5, No. 5944 Page 39

The necessity of implementing the European working-time directive has prompted strategic health authorities to consider a wide range of responses and few can be more unusual than that of South East London workforce development confederation, where soldiers are offered the chance to be turned into clinicians.

The project brings together the NHS, the armed services and local universities to allow people with no previous NHS qualifications to train to take up new roles as clinical technicians and clinical assistant practitioners. The roles have been created to fit into bands 3 and 4 of Agenda for Change and is based on specially created foundation degrees.

The first intake was in September 2004 - an entry route into the NHS for armed services medical combat technicians, who previously were not able to have their training recognised by the NHS. The armed services qualifications - NVQ level 3 in care and NVQ level 2 in phlebotomy - are directly accredited in the foundation degree. The foundation degree is recognised for access to the six-year extended medical degree at King's College London. National occupational standards have been used as the basis for developing the role to ensure applicability throughout the NHS.

Lewisham Hospital trust already has 15 clinical technicians in post as a result of the project and they have played a key role in its implementation of the Hospital at Night project and compliance with the European working-time directive.

For more information contact Sarah Fox on 020-7593 0110.