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NHS plans to be 'self sufficient' in training doctors

On 4th October 2016, Jeremy Hunt announced plans to increase medical school places by 25% by 2018. This is under a new plan to make England self sufficient in training doctors. While this is an admirable strategy, there are challenges that come with this. Under this new plan, there is increasing pressure for Health Education England (HEE) to provide training. And what's more, HEE has had its budget cut by 9%. This rise in training places of 25% will cost the government an additional £100m.

These additional demands have put a lot of strain on the growing workforces of NHS trusts, creating a massive challenge to train employees faster and more effectively than ever before. Furthermore, the additional growth of 25% by 2018 will mean that NHS trusts won't see the benefits of this until much later, given the number of years' training required to become a doctor as illustrated in the graph above.

How can the NHS cope with increasing demand for training?

The NHS is already trying to use blended learning programmes supported by e-learning; however, this is not currently ideal. Many NHS trusts are using an Oracle-based system called ESR - the NHS's Electronic Staff Record system. This has not, to date, provided NHS trusts with the accurate compliance reporting they need. It also lacks modern functionality such as mobile learning.

On top of this, there have also been changes for many NHS trusts who used the McKesson ESR platform along with an Oracle-based LMS to manage their blended learning programmes. Recently, McKesson didn't bid for the new project to undergo transformation of blended learning in the NHS. Instead, IBM was awarded the contract, and is currently rolling out their platform to selected NHS trusts.

For NHS trusts, many of the plans IBM is making are based on ESR, the current platform, which has caused many issues in terms of data integrity and compliance tracking of blended learning. As well as this, NHS trusts are being pressed to come up with new solutions to manage their appraisal programmes and demonstrate workforces are living the trust's values. Given the pressures on budgets and the compliance tracking, NHS trusts have sought alternatives to the IBM platform. 

How is the NHS offering training now? 

University College London Hospitals (UCLH), who have been shortlisted for a CIPD 2016 People Management Award for their approach to talent management, have implemented Totara LMS. Totara LMS is an open source platform, meaning NHS trusts no longer have to pay licence fees for the LMS. On top of this, NHS trusts now share code and best practice rather than repeating and paying for additions to their platforms.

The NHS Leadership Academy has also gone down this route by realising the benefits of open source. They have also recently developed their online learning programmes.

Totara LMS has brought many NHS trusts the freedom to choose which supplier they want to work with at a lower cost.

Many NHS trusts are also taking advantage of some of the new free plugins for Totara LMS. In particular, they are linking the appraisals plugin within Totara LMS directly to learning programmes. The appraisals plugin from the Totara ecosystem was developed in partnership with BMI Healthcare, and provided free of charge to Totara users.

Conor Gilligan is the Global Head of Division at Webanywhere. For more information on how Webanywhere can help build a Totara LMS, please contact the team here. Alternatively, take a look at more of our healthcare case studies here.

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