New recruits to NHS training posts will be expected to pass a “values-based” test from next year in a bid to embed respect, dignity and compassion in future workforces.

The test, due to be introduced in March 2015, will be devised by Health Education England  at the request of ministers who have issued the education agency with a “mandate” to introduce the measure.

According to this mandate, the test should ensure the “importance of values as well as skills, and the need to treat patients with respect and dignity” in training programmes funded by HEE’s £5bn budget.

This need to instil a system of values as well as skills into the NHS was one of the central lessons of the Francis report into the Mid Staffordshire scandal, according to the Department of Health.

HEE will also be expected to develop a values-based recruitment framework for organisations and universities offering NHS funded courses by October 2014, according to the mandate. It must also develop “a toolkit” to support organisations to review current practices and align recruitment processes with the values laid out in the NHS constitution.

The HEE will work with regulators and professional bodies to develop a common set of standards and qualifications for staff working across community and hospital based settings. This should enable staff to transfer between organisations and care settings more freely, a DH spokeswoman said.

Two specialist postgraduate qualification programmes for nurses will also be developed. One for nurses to specialise in mental health; the other for older person’s care.

Nurses on the older person’s postgraduate qualification programme will also have access to an older person’s nurse fellowship programme.

HEE will also work with NHS England and Public Health England to develop a career framework for nurses working with older people. It will work with the Royal College of GPs to improve GP training on mental health, child health, older persons’ health and dementia. This will help GPs “pick up issues early, before they reach crisis stage”, the DH said.

Health minister Dan Poulter said: “Patients have the right to feel confident that they will be treated with dignity and respect.

“Compassionate care must be at the very heart of our NHS. This mandate will make sure that NHS employers only recruit health and care workers with the right skills and the necessary caring values to give patients, carers and their families the treatment they deserve.”

The mandate would “make sure that all hard working NHS staff are given the flexible and expert skills to deliver high quality, patient centred care, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable,” he added.

It includes a target to train 250,000 NHS staff in dementia care by March 2015 with all staff trained on the condition by 2018.

To deliver personalised maternity care, HEE will also be required to maintain the current number of midwifery students up to 2016, at approximately 2,500 a year.

HEE will also review undergraduate and postgraduate training pathways by summer 2015 to identify ways to support the development of a more flexible workforce.