A major new drive to improve the skills of support workers in the NHS has been unveiled by enterprise minister Matthew Hancock.
The initiative will see a total of £4.36 million invested by government and industry to boost the abilities of the health service's 600,000 support workers.
Some £1.96 million of the cash pot comes from the coalition's Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot, while a partnership of public, private and third-sector employers will provide £568,000 in cash along with £1.8 million of in-kind contributions.
The money will be spent on opening six new "Excellence Centres" across England, bringing together employers from various sectors to introduce new workplace skills programmes.
In addition, these centres will be responsible for directing the development of 20 new nationwide e-learning resources in a bid to deliver more flexible skills training.
Six new patient care-focused learning programmes will be created, helping to develop:
•dementia support, medicine management and other community care-related skills
•foundation skills tailored to the needs of the sector, such as English, IT and maths
•essential values and behaviours for new starters
•study skills that will help support workers advance to higher levels
•clinical skills that may lead to the support worker undertaking an apprenticeship or other advanced training in the future
Upskilling support workers through this initiative is expected to deliver £2 billion in productivity gains for the NHS, while the programme is also set to create 10,000 new apprentices and trainees.
Announcing the project, Mr Hancock said: "NHS staff ... work tirelessly to maintain their high standards of care, and we must make sure that they are supported with the right skills to provide high-quality care for patients.
"Helping employers work together to build this will give the right staff the right skills to safeguard the future of the NHS."
Virtual College has worked with every NHS Trust in the country since 2006 delivering e-learning, lean and bespoke training. Learn more about the work of our healthcare division: http://www.virtual-college.co.uk/e-academies/Healthcare.aspx