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HEKSS launches ground-breaking innovation and evaluation unit

29 May 2014

HEKSS has established a research, innovation and evaluation unit to support the implementation and on-going development of the skills development strategy. This dedicated research-based evaluation and innovation capability is novel in the way it integrates the three activities and will underpin the work of the skills strategy.

Headed up by Dr Chris Loughlan, a former senior NHS executive with extensive experience in education, research and evaluation, a key priority for the unit will be to focus attention on the future sustainability of each of the skills development strategy’s work programmes.

Since its inception in April 2013, HEKSS has worked with its partners to develop the capacity and capability for future workforce planning. However, recognising that many of the needs of providers across Kent, Surrey and Sussex can be met by developing the existing workforce, its work is focused around a comprehensive skills development strategy, addressing national and local priorities. The strategy was borne out of extensive consultation with providers across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

Dr Loughlan, Head of Research, Innovation and Evaluation joins HEKSS with a wealth of both front-line and senior management experience in the NHS. He has held posts with a UK Sector Skills Council, the National Institute for Health Research and was recently responsible for the independent evaluation Health Innovation and Education Clusters.

The unit includes a lead for innovation, a lead for evaluation and a research manager. Research will be ‘embedded’ in both other arms of the unit, evaluation will be research-based (ensuring robustness and validity) whilst research will also help to drive innovation.

The unit is tasked with evaluating the outcomes of educational investment in terms of service delivery and the desired impact on patient care, both now and against expected future needs. It has produced an Assessment Guidance Report providing clear guidance on the process and criteria for assessing proposals for educational investment and their end results. While primarily intended to support internal HEKSS processes, the guidance will be made available so that all stakeholders, particularly educational providers, can fully understand how the value of educational investment is being supported and assessed.

The work of the unit is being governed through a programme board, in the same way as the skills development strategy workstreams, which will seek to engage with NHS providers across the region on its strategy and work plan. The programme board will have representation from providers and will be supported by a clinical lead and a CEO sponsor from a provider trust.

Dr Loughlan said:

We want to ensure that educational investment achieves value for money and meets the needs of healthcare providers. Our work will assist educational providers to further refine the valuable contribution they make to the development of a workforce with the knowledge and skills that are needed now and for the future. I’m looking forward to working with our partners across the region, and HEE nationally, to ensure the benefits of the skills development strategy continue to be fully realised and sustained, transforming care and outcomes for local people.

For more information, please contact Chris Loughlan at cloughlan@kss.hee.nhs.uk.