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First regional Sector Skills Agreement for the East of England is brokered by Skills for Health

Skills For Health : 07 November, 2007  (New Product)
The East of England is to benefit from a 21.2million three-year investment in healthcare skills brokered by Skills for Health (SfH).
SfH is the sector skills council for the NHS, independent and voluntary healthcare sectors.

The rolling three-year deal will see a joint investment by the East of England Strategic Health Authority and the Regional Learning and Skills Council to help improve patient care by extending the skills of NHS workers across the region.

Forming part of a national 100million SfH Joint Investment Framework to address skills gaps and shortages across the healthcare sector - the investment was announced at the launch of a new 'East of England Sector Skills Agreement for Health'.

This new agreement - which is a 'first' for the healthcare sector in the English regions - was produced through collaboration between health sector employers and education and development agencies from across the six East of England counties.

Speaking at the launch, Bill Rammell, MP for Harlow and Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education said: 'The health sector today is shaped by new and rapidly changing pressures and demands. Our ageing population has huge implications for healthcare provision and workforce capacity in the future; the expectations of the public about what can be provided continues to grow, requiring health professionals to rightly become ever more responsive to their needs; there is an increased focus on prevention and public health rather than treatment after the fact; there is a new balance developing between community and hospital-based services; and new technology continues to change the way staff work and the impact they can have in stretching the boundaries of what is medically possible.

'And, like any other economic sector, health employers have to respond to financial demands and compete for the best workers with other local and national employers - which can be particularly difficult in an area of ( and time of) high employment - all the while seeking to shape the size and nature of their workforce to meet their targets and respond to the changing demands on their service.

'The Leitch report and Government places Sector Skills Councils at the forefront of meeting the UK's economic challenges. And Sector Skills Agreements - like this one for health - were identified as crucial if we are to develop a skilled, occupationally competent and flexible workforce, capable of responding to changing needs.'

John Rogers, chief executive of Skills for Health, said: 'The East of England Sector Skills Agreement is a excellent example of how these national agreements need to work at a regional level. The key to sector skills agreements is that they are a 'compact' between employers and key stakeholders to deliver the skills that we need for the future of our sector. We have been delighted by the partnership working in the East of England to deliver outcomes that will benefit the whole sector'

Keith Pearson, chair of NHS East of England added: 'The launch of this Sector Skills Agreement is an important step forward in helping us work together to ensure the healthcare sector in the region has a workforce with the right skills, education and experience to meet the needs of those people living and working in the East of England.

'The demands that face us in the future mean we need the highest possible level of skill amongst staff at all levels and every encouragement for them to progress.'

Welcoming the agreement, Rosie Varley OBE, chair of the Health Skills Forum for the East of England added: 'The East of England is the fastest growing region in the UK and deserves a first class health service equal to its rapidly developing needs.'
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