The National Health System (NHS) of United Kingdom is, according to BBC, the 4th largest employer in the world, behind United States Department of Defence, People’s Liberation Army (Chinese Army) and Walmart.
It employees 1.4 million staff and almost every single one of them gets chills at the sound of those four words: statutory and mandatory training.
Most of the “Stat&Mand” courses are available to the whole NHS for free, unless an organization opts to create its own content or acquire a learning package from an external provider.
In this post we will look at the 5 courses all NHS staff are required to do, giving some background information as to why they are so important.
Possibly the flagship of statutory and mandatory training, Information Governance is a course that trains staff on the legal rules and the best practices as to how information should be gathered, stored and used.
From answering a phone call about a patient to encrypting files on a USB stick, Information Governance training aims at setting the bar high for all employees so that every NHS Trust can be trusted with the management of confidential data.
In the period 2008-2011, there were at least 806 different cases where NHS staff failed to abide by the Information Guidance guidelines. This is a good indicator of why IG needs to be updated yearly and be available in multiple modes, most popular being eLearning with more than 650,000 users across the UK.
Health and Safety
If you ever wondered why London airports have to shut down for hours due to a centimetre of snow, well, the answer is (quite obviously): health and safety. No employer will take any chances when it comes down to their staff or customers’ safety.
It all started in 1974 when the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) was introduced to help reduce work-related accidents and fatal injuries. Although the number of workplace deaths has fallen by 87% since 1974, 400 people still lose their lives at work and more than a million workers suffer a non-fatal injury each year. In other numbers, Health and Safety failures cause 25 million working days to be lost every year, costing Britain up to £18 billion.
The frequency of Health and Safety training in the NHS is every three years and is facilitated mainly via eLearning.
In an attempt to reduce the 30,000 false alarms they need to attend annually, London Fire Brigade has started charging households and enterprises a £295 fine (€413/$467) per every false alarm after the first 10 in a year. The top 10 list of the worst offenders is dominated by hospitals and the one topping the list is St George’s Hospital where the Fire Brigade was called 168 times in 2014.
NHS hospitals are using a double-knock system which alerts the Fire Brigade either immediately or a few minutes after an alarm is activated, unless staff deactivate it manually. But, why would someone deactivate an alarm in a big hospital with many blind spots? As a result, the total amount for false alarms the NHS is required to pay in 2015 near £200,000 (€280,000/$317,000).
But Fire Safety is not just about prevention. A real fire in a hospital means that all of its patients need to be evacuated (even the ones in the Emergency Department, in the Operating Room or in Intensive Care) within a narrow window of time. If the staff in charge of the evacuation are not trained, then the probability of possibly fatal mistakes becomes a certainty.
It is quite evident why Fire Safety is hugely important and why it needs to be updated annually. Most Trusts encourage eLearning, but for staff identified as Fire Marshals they usually prefer face to face training.
Moving and Handling
How do you get up from the floor after a fall? How do you pick up a box? How do you sit on a chair? It turns out that simple tasks like these are more complicated than we think as manual handling is the biggest cause of injury to staff and patients.
Moving and Handling training aims at raising awareness of all the risk factors that can lead to an injury during daily activities. If an injury is caused while hoisting a patient or due to a clumsy move while moving a box, an employer may be liable for compensations.
There are many types of Moving and Handling training, depending on the area of work, hence its frequency can range from yearly to every three years.
Equality and Diversity
The United Kingdom is the cradle of multiculturalism and the NHS, one of its main ambassadors, has been trying hard to build a diverse workforce where equality on all grounds is unconditionally promoted.
Being an Afro-Caribbean woman who works closely with a Muslim man during Ramadan or being a straight man who investigates the sexual assault to a transgender woman mightprove really challenging if staff have not received the appropriate training to raise their awareness about the negative impact of discrimination on people’s lives.
Equality and Diversity is officially refreshed every three years, but there are many events and campaigns throughout each year that function as social learning resources.
These 5 courses are the quintessence of statutory and mandatory training in the NHS.
Failing to keep these competencies up to date can make a Trust prone to serious accidents that could lead to losses of lives and work hours, and tax payers’ money spent on compensations rather than on patient care.
It is no wonder that NHS Trusts that fall behind on performance have two common characteristics: low compliance levels and poor staff engagement, which eventually become a vicious circle. The first step to break this circle with a user-friendly LMS that offers tailor-made reports.