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Skills for Health (SfH) – the sector skills council for the public, private and voluntary healthcare sectors – is calling on everyone involved in healthcare education to make their views known during a three-month consultation process around a new Quality Assurance Framework for Healthcare Education.

Entitled EQuIP (Enhancing Quality in Partnership), the framework has been developed by SfH and its partners to support the national standard contract for healthcare education, which was published by the Department of Health in England in 2006.

The aim of the framework is to ensure that in excess of £650 million spent each year on healthcare learning programmes is used to best effect. With 75 Higher Education Institutions and more than 300 partner healthcare placement providers delivering over 2,000 healthcare education programmes, the need for simplification is clear.

Janine Ling, Head of Quality and Learning at NHS Education South Central (NESC) said:

“We need a framework that draws on current best practices to ensure that what healthcare professionals are learning, how they are learning, and where they are learning is in line with the requirements of a patient-led health sector.

"These factors can have a major impact on the successful delivery of services and the quality of care received by patients and other service users. For this reason, it is vital that the standard of healthcare education is continuously improved.”

Christina Pond, Executive Director of Standards and Qualifications at Skills for Health, added:

“At any one time, there are around 75,000 learners on pre-registration programmes alone, and as much as half of the learning time of these programmes is spent in healthcare workplace settings.

“Some excellent and innovative work is already taking place in healthcare education, but the numbers and complexities of learning programmes merit a move towards a standard framework; one that is easily recognised and understood by all involved.

“Such a framework will be a useful tool for Strategic Health Authorities, and other healthcare education commissioners and their partners. But it can only be successfully created through collaboration - which is why we are inviting everyone involved in healthcare education to give us their views.”

The consultation period will run from the 28th September to the end of December 2007. During this time workshops will also be taking place in Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, London, Newcastle and Peterborough for those seeking more detail about the framework. Attendance is free of charge. To reserve a place email qaconferencebookings@skillsforhealth.org.uk or contact Jordana Fournillier on 020 7716 7024.

All interested parties can respond by clicking on the EQuIP consultation button on the Skills for Health homepage (www.skillsforhealth.org.uk) or by visiting http://www.skillsforhealth.org.uk/EQUIPconsultation.
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Notes to editors:

Skills for Health is grateful for the assistance and involvement of around 200 stakeholder organisations and individuals who have helped to shape the EQuiP QA Framework development process to date. These include:

- The SfH advisory Quality Assurance Stakeholders Development Group (QASDeG)
- The Strategic Health Authorities in England
- Higher Education Institutions
- NHS, Independent and Voluntary Sector healthcare providers
- Statutory Regulatory Bodies
- Professional Bodies
- Service Users and Carers
- Healthcare Education Learners
- Other quality assurance bodies such as the Quality Assurance Agency.

For further information about the EQuIP Framework Consultation and regional workshops contact Jordana Fournillier on 020 7716 7024 or email jordana.fournillier@skillsforhealth.org.uk

About Skills for Health – www.skillsforhealth.org.uk Skills for Health (SfH) is the Sector Skills Council for UK health, funded by the four UK health departments in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; the Sector Skills Development Agency; the education act regulatory bodies; and health sector employers and providers.

The 25 Sector Skills Councils which make up the Skills for Business Network are licensed by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills in consultation with Ministers from the devolved administrations. Each one has a sector ‘footprint’ and central goals to address skills gaps and shortages; improve productivity and performance; increase opportunities to boost skills; and improve learning supply.

Skills for Health’s sector footprint covers the entire National Health Service, and the whole of the independent and voluntary healthcare sectors across the UK - which collectively employ approximately 2 million people. The majority of occupations are linked to hospital activities and community health services, but the sector also includes general medical and dental practitioners and healthcare professionals working in nursing homes and private surgeries, and retail outlets such as pharmacists, opticians and self-employed practitioners.

The overarching remit of Skills for Health is to ultimately help improve health and healthcare by assisting the whole healthcare sector in developing solutions which deliver a skilled and flexible UK workforce.

Specific Skills for Health aims are to:

- profile the UK healthcare sector workforce
- develop and manage national workforce competences across the UK healthcare sector
- influence UK education and training supply to meet healthcare sector needs
- improve the workforce skills of the UK healthcare sector
- work with partners to achieve these aims.

Further information about Skills for Health and its work can be found at www.skillsforhealth.org.uk

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