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Delivering high quality, effective, compassionate care: Developing the right people with the right skills and the right values

A mandate from the Government to Health Education England: April 2014 to March 2015

People train to become healthcare professionals because they believe in public service, advocating the needs of the vulnerable, and improving the human condition. In this second mandate to Health Education England (HEE), I have set out how we plan to recruit, train, and retain a healthcare workforce of the highest quality and how we can support healthcare staff to deliver the very best quality care. Central to the recruitment and training of our healthcare workforce will be ensuring parity of esteem between both the physical and mental aspects of health and wellbeing.

The biggest challenge facing every health and care system in the world is the same. People are living longer and have increasingly complicated health and care needs. We must continue to develop a more mobile and flexible healthcare workforce capable of delivering increasingly sophisticated and personalised care across a variety of care settings. The priority is to train and retain a healthcare workforce equipped with the skills to deliver much more proactive care and support for patients in the community, and with the right skills to support people with long-term medical conditions to live with dignity in their own homes. Increasing the number of General Practitioners and community nurses will be crucial in delivering more proactive and community based care to all and in providing in producing more personalised care for frail older people.

Last year the publication of the Francis Report shone a spotlight on the importance of the continuing professional development of our healthcare staff. We must use what was a very humbling event for those who work in and care about our NHS to ensure that the healthcare workforce of tomorrow is even better recruited and trained to provide dignity in the care of older people and patients with long-term medical conditions and disabilities.

Recognising the recent report, Prevention Pays – Our Children Deserve Better, by the Chief Medical Officer, we must also place a stronger emphasis on children’s health and early years development and care. Every child deserves to be given the very best start in life, and healthcare staff working with children and young people must have the right knowledge and skills to meet their specific needs and ensure that children receive joined up health and care across both hospitals and the community. Record levels of targeted investment in workforce and training in areas such as midwifery, health visiting and family nurses will ensure more support is available to families and their children.

Our NHS and public health system has a proud record when it comes to promoting equality and diversity across the workforce. However we must ensure that more progress is made in supporting people from poorer socio-economic backgrounds to enter medical and healthcare careers. This must include helping care assistants and healthcare support workers to break through glass ceilings and to progress into nursing and midwifery careers.

Britain has a strong international reputation for the quality of medical and other health education in this country. Therefore, we must also prioritise working with the education and the life sciences sectors to identify opportunities to contribute to UK economic growth and export the benefits of NHS training and skills to other countries.