NHS Trusts are under increasing pressure to improve their performance in a number of crucial areas. The glare of the media spotlight only serves to heighten the need to address issues such as infection prevention and control and safeguarding children.
Trusts themselves, and their employees, naturally want to do all they can to minimise risks to patients and have an obligation to meet statutory and mandatory training requirements. Infection prevention and control and safeguarding children are arguably the two most topical issues that frequently receive high levels of negative public attention.
Infection prevention and control
Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI) have been the subject of a recent report by the National Audit Office (NAO) claiming that although Department of Health targets to reduce MRSA bloodstream infections by 57% and C. difficile by 41% were met, other HAI’s are not being addressed in the same vein and “compliance with good practice is still not universal”. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has also vowed to “keep up the pressure” on the NHS to continue to improve HAI standards.
With the estimated cost to NHS hospitals of caring for people that acquire a HAI at over £1 billion a year, more forward thinking Trusts are embracing new and innovative ways to achieve HAI targets within the time and budget constraints forced upon them. This ranges from the use of modern equipment and processes to more efficient methods of providing the appropriate level of training to employees.
Increasingly popular is the use of e-Learning to provide all Trust employees with quick, easily accessible training to ensure compliance with HAI Infection Control mandates. For example, an Infection Prevention and Control e-Learning module makes it easy for any Trust to demonstrate, to the powers that be, that employees have been fully briefed on mandatory procedures to prevent HAI, incident management and can show a basic technical insight.
An inquiry into NHS failings, conducted by the CQC, recently concluded that doctors and other health professionals could have identified that Baby Peter was being abused if they had been “particularly vigilant” and gone “beyond what was required” by the system. CQC has urged NHS Trusts to improve staff compliance in the area of safeguarding children as its recent review showed that, there are worrying shortfalls in the number of staff up to date with their mandatory training. In fact, only 54 percent of eligible staff across all Trusts actually had up to date basic training.
CQC says that Trusts should monitor the training of staff and ensure their people are up to date. Guidance issued by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health says all healthcare staff should have basic training in child protection. With public outcry, intense media attention and the glare of the CQC on their backs, Trusts are looking at ways of getting basic training rolled out to employees as a matter of urgency. Once again, e-Learning is being turned to as this quick, accessible solution to ensure compliance with mandates and ease the intensifying pressure from above.
Is e-Learning the solution?
e-Learning is undoubtedly changing the way the NHS approaches the training and development of its employees. It enables any Trust to create, deploy and distribute organisational learning to staff with speed and ease. It is ideal for providing a basic level of training to large groups of employees who can access it anywhere, anytime, even before they begin employment if required. When coupled with a Learning Management System (LMS) to distribute the courses, a Trust has an auditable record of the employees who have completed the e-Learning and passed any online tests that may have been provided.
Whilst never likely to remove the need for more in-depth, instructor based or practical training, e-Learning should be used as part of a blended learning approach for clinical based employees.
e-Learning is an invaluable addition to the training mix, helping Trusts to be fully compliant with statutory and mandatory policy requirements, respond to external pressures to improve areas of critical performance, avoid negative publicity and potentially even legal action. Perhaps most importantly though, a uniformed approach to basic training can help to minimise risks to patients.