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Talent for care and widening participation

These two programmes work together to improve the education, training and development opportunities available to current, potential and future NHS staff.

Talent for care has a specific focus on improving these opportunities for those working in a support role, whilst widening participation seeks to ensure the healthcare workforce is representative of the communities it serves, and that progression and opportunities are based on merit, not social background.

Talent for care

While the support workforce make up 40 per cent of the total NHS workforce and provide around 60 per cent of patient care, this group receives less than 5 per cent of the national training budget. We are working with various national, regional and local partners to change this picture, to increase investment in the support workforce and to spread good practice and innovation.

With a national focus on health care assistants as a consequence of the Francis Inquiry and the Cavendish Review, Health Education England (HEE) was given a mandate by the Department of Health to improve the training for this group of staff. We took the view that the education and development for all staff working in a support role is vitally important, and began work on plans for a strategic framework to address this need and the low levels of investment typically seen across the country. Talent for care now forms part of Framework 15, HEE’s guide to action.

The talent for care national strategic framework - available in the related documents below - focuses on ten strategic intentions under the primary themes of:

  • Get In - opportunities for people to start their career in a support role
  • Get On - support people to be the best they can be in the job they do
  • Go Further - provide opportunities for career progression, including into registered professions.

For all general enquiries about talent for care or to find contact details for the lead in your local team, please email talentforcare@hee.nhs.uk.

Widening participation

We exist to improve the quality of care for patients by ensuring we have enough staff with the right skills, values and behaviours available for employment by providers. As part of our role we have leadership responsibility for promoting equality and diversity, and enabling widening participation in the development of the current and future healthcare workforce.

The widening participation strategy ‘It Matters' - found in related documents, sets out five key goals:

  • improve monitoring and reporting of widening participation activities
  • enhance further the visibility and targeting of health careers information and advice
  • increase, through research and evaluation, the understanding and evidence of what and what does not work in relation to widening participation developments in healthcare education and workforce development
  • increase collaborative approaches in supporting widening participation initiatives, including outreach activity
  • stimulate and increase the capacity of healthcare organisations in being able to expand and support work or work related experience opportunities.

Building on this, ‘What comes next?’ sets out the national strategic framework for engagement with schools and communities. The framework looks at how organisations can create a diverse workforce through sustained partnerships with schools and community organisations. It showcases best practice from across the NHS and outlines an approach that organisations can adopt to more strategically align their priorities with their outreach engagement. The work is critical to the development of a strong workforce that can continue to deliver and improve care for future generations. We are asking organisational leaders to review their position against the framework and take action.

For all general enquiries about widening participation or to find contact details for the lead in your local team, please email wideningparticipation@hee.nhs.uk.

A number of additional resources can be accessed including; Sir Keith Pearson, Chairman of Health Education England letter to leaders, widening participation strategy and initial action plan, widening participation posters, A national strategic framework to develop the healthcare support workforce - get in, get on, go further and talent for care posters.

To keep up to date read our latest newsletter in related documents. You can sign up to the quarterly newsletter by emailing talentforcare@hee.nhs.uk.

The Partnership pledge is a way to show your commitment to supporting the outcomes of the Talent for Care and Widening Participation strategic frameworks. See our partnership pledge page to find out more.

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