BBC HOMEPAGE | NEWS | WORLD SERVICE | SPORT | MY BBC low graphics | help
news vote 2001search vote 2001
 You are in: Vote2001
VOTE2001 
Main Issues 
Features 
Crucial Seats 
Key People 
Parties 
Results &  Constituencies 
Opinion Polls 
Online 1000 
Virtual Vote 
Talking Point 
Forum 
AudioVideo 
Programmes 
Voting System 
Local Elections 
Nations 

N Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 

BBC News

BBC Sport

BBC Weather
Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
'Flexible' university for NHS
operation
The aim is to train and develop NHS staff
Flexible studying and e-learning will form the basis of a new university planned for National Health Service workers.

Plans for a University for the NHS - revealed by the Labour party - would see staff of the UK's largest employer improve their qualifications and enhance their career opportunities.


There must be flexibility ... so that it fits in with the shift work and hours of NHS workers

Gary Spink, Open University
Established by 2003, the university would be run as a partnership between the NHS, existing universities and the private sector.

The university is likely to be run in close co-operation with the Open University (OU), giving students the chance to learn from work and home.

A team of administrators and academics from the OU has been in discussion with government officials, NHS trusts and the British Association of Medical Managers, to see how partnerships could be developed.

"All the indications are that - if the government is re-elected and the project goes ahead - we would play a major part in it," Gary Spink from the OU said.

"There must be flexibility in the material provided so that it fits in with the shift work and hours that NHS workers do."

'Tailored courses'

Courses could be tailored to suit the specific needs of NHS staff, allowing theory to be backed up by practical examples, Mr Spink said.

Subjects covered are likely to include social care, nursing training, technology, maths, computing and management skills.

Far from undermining the role of the OU, the University for the NHS would increase its student base.

"It will bring the courses we have, or could potentially develop, to a wider audience.

"If people have got the backing of their employer, then we will get a lot more people involved in on-going education," he said.

'Symbol of reform'

Under Labour's proposals, hospital cleaners could become health care assistants and health care assistants could train to be nurses.

The party hopes up to 100,000 NHS staff will use the university in a drive to improve the training and skills of workers in the service.


It will provide a core education curriculum for all staff, both through face-to-face teaching and through e-learning

Alan Milburn
The Health Secretary, Alan Milburn, said he wanted the University for the NHS to become a "symbol of public sector reform".

"It will provide a core education curriculum for all staff, both through face-to-face teaching and through e-learning," Mr Milburn said.

"Low-paid staff will each have a 300 a year individual learning account, which they will be able to use in the NHS university to acquire new skills and new qualifications, so that they can move up the NHS career ladder.

"Getting the best from every member of NHS staff will help get the best for every NHS patient," he said.

'Brain drain' charge

The Shadow Health Secretary, Liam Fox, dismissed Labour's efforts as a "gimmick".

The Liberal Democrats said the idea would not stop the "brain drain" from the NHS.

Health spokesman, Nick Harvey, said: "A new university will not prevent the haemorrhage of existing staff to the private sector".

 A/V CONSOLE
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS

Latest stories

Issues: Health

TALKING POINT

INTERACT
PARTY WEB LINKS



The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Related stories:

22 May 01 |  Vote2001
Labour plans NHS university
24 Mar 01 |  Mike Baker
Business moves into UK and US schools
28 Mar 00 |  Education
Virtual classroom for workers
©BBC