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The East of England is to benefit from a £21.2million three-year investment in healthcare skills – due to a new agreement launched this month.

Brokered by Skills for Health (SfH) - the sector skills council for the NHS, independent and voluntary healthcare sectors - the rolling three-year deal will see a joint investment by the East of England Strategic Health Authority and the Regional Learning and Skills Council to help improve patient care by extending the skills of NHS workers across the region.

Forming part of a national £100million SfH Joint Investment Framework to address skills gaps and shortages across the healthcare sector - the investment was announced on 2nd November at the launch of a new ‘East of England Sector Skills Agreement for Health’. This new agreement – which is a ‘first’ for the healthcare sector in the English regions - was produced through collaboration between health sector employers and education and development agencies from across the six East of England counties.

Speaking at the launch, Bill Rammell, MP for Harlow and Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education said:

“The health sector today is shaped by new and rapidly changing pressures and demands. Our ageing population has huge implications for healthcare provision and workforce capacity in the future; the expectations of the public about what can be provided continues to grow, requiring health professionals to rightly become ever more responsive to their needs; there is an increased focus on prevention and public health rather than treatment after the fact; there is a new balance developing between community and hospital-based services; and new technology continues to change the way staff work and the impact they can have in stretching the boundaries of what is medically possible.

“And, like any other economic sector, health employers have to respond to financial demands and compete for the best workers with other local and national employers - which can be particularly difficult in an area of ( and time of) high employment - all the while seeking to shape the size and nature of their workforce to meet their targets and respond to the changing demands on their service.

“The Leitch report and Government places Sector Skills Councils at the forefront of meeting the UK’s economic challenges. And Sector Skills Agreements – like this one for health – were identified as crucial if we are to develop a skilled, occupationally competent and flexible workforce, capable of responding to changing needs.”

John Rogers, Chief Executive of Skills for Health, said:

”The East of England Sector Skills Agreement is a excellent example of how these national agreements need to work at a regional level. The key to sector skills agreements is that they are a ‘compact’ between employers and key stakeholders to deliver the skills that we need for the future of our sector. We have been delighted by the partnership working in the East of England to deliver outcomes that will benefit the whole sector”

Keith Pearson, Chair of NHS East of England added:

“The launch of this Sector Skills Agreement is an important step forward in helping us work together to ensure the healthcare sector in the region has a workforce with the right skills, education and experience to meet the needs of those people living and working in the East of England.

“The demands that face us in the future mean we need the highest possible level of skill amongst staff at all levels and every encouragement for them to progress.”

Welcoming the agreement, Rosie Varley OBE, Chair of the Health Skills Forum for the East of England added:

“The East of England is the fastest growing region in the UK and deserves a first class health service equal to its rapidly developing needs.”


Notes to editors:

Photography of Bill Rammell and other key speakers is available on request from Louise Jaggs t: 01242 257770 or 07712 011246 e:

About the Sector Skills Agreement for Health (SSA) – The Sector Skills Agreement for Health (SSA) is a UK-wide series of agreements, each brokered by Skills for Health. Within the Agreement for England (2006) there are currently over 70 agreements each of which supports the provision of best quality healthcare and services through the skills of those working in the sector.

The SSA’s aim is to achieve improved healthcare services by helping to ensure that the sector has a skilled, flexible workforce. The agreement spans the whole health sector footprint – covering NHS, independent and voluntary employers. It sets out a strategy and solutions to tackle skills gaps and shortages in the healthcare sector so that patients receive the best possible care and the highest levels of service.

Outcomes of the SSA to date include: an emergent sector qualifications strategy; an emergent sector careers framework; closer working relationships with education funding bodies; strengthened partnership work between major bodies and agencies; application of competence-based approaches to workforce transformation; work to strengthen employer engagement; work to develop robust approaches to commissioning training and education; work to broaden access and progression into health sector careers; work on quality assurance; work to increase learning opportunities for previously excluded and disadvantaged employees.

The East of England SSA for Health represents the first in what will be a series of regionally focused agreements.

Key messages from the Agreement about the healthcare sector in the East of England:

1. Health and Social Care contribute 6 per cent of the East of England GDP and represent 11% of the workforce – the healthcare sector needs to respond to growing and changing healthcare demands as well as help keep the workforce fit and off benefits.

2. Over the next ten years the sector needs to recruit around 250,000 staff – from a reducing labour pool against staff competition from other sectors in the region who also seek higher skilled staff.

3. Wastage of talent could be reduced and the workforce developed from within – by offering more satisfying jobs and good career prospects and an effective ‘skills escalator’; synchronising careers, education and funding, especially at NVQ Levels 1-4 where there is a history of underinvestment.

4. Rapidly changing demand requires new teams, new roles and new ways of delivering the service and new locations – teams and roles need to be redesigned in parallel with appropriate education and training. Growth areas are expected to be at (NHS equivalent) Bands 4 (Assistant Practitioners) and 6/7 (Advanced Practitioners).

5. Increased productivity and cost effectiveness are essential – demand and supply can only be reconciled by shifting to more flexible and cost effective teams.

6. Change on this scale needs support – we propose a Regional Health Skills Academy with offices in each County as part of a National Health Skills Academy.

For further information visit

About Skills for Health – 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

Photographs available. Photograph attached: left to right - John Rogers, Chief Executive of Skills for Health - the Sector Skills Council for the NHS, independent and voluntary healthcare sectors; Bill Rammell, MP for Harlow and Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education; Rosie Varley OBE, Chair of the Health Skills Forum for the East of England; and Keith Pearson, Chair of NHS East of England.

Media contact:

Louise Jaggs, TextOnTap
Tel: +44 (0)1242 257770 +44 (0)7712 011246

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of On Tap Communications in the following categories: Health, Education & Human Resources, for more information visit