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7. Support workers

Support workers are valued members of the imaging and radiotherapy workforce, working alongside qualified staff performing vital roles. Their work is generally determined by local service needs and therefore their education and training is normally specific to their role.  

In 2010 the SCoR  published its Education and Professional Development Strategy: New Directions  https://www.sor.org/learning/document-library/education-and-professional-development-strategy-new-directions/  It states that, as a minimum, support staff in clinical imaging and radiotherapy departments should hold or gain an S/NVQ level 2 in Health, or an equivalent, and ideally should hold or be enabled to obtain an S/NVQ level 3 in Health. However, since January 2011, National Vocational Qualifications have been phased out and replaced by new qualifications and Apprenticeships. The new qualifications in Health and Social Care are offered by Awarding Organisations (AO) such as City & Guilds and Edexcel. Unlike previous qualifications, they do not include units that are specific to imaging or radiotherapy.

In Wales, Level 2 and Level 3 Qualifications have been developed for Imaging Department support workers and these are awaiting ratification by Ofqual.   Ofqual is the office for the regulation of qualifications and examinations and lists of regulated qualifications can be found at the Ofqual website www.ofqual.gov.uk/

In Scotland, the following document has been published to identify standards of education and training for support workers: Up to standard: a code of practice for employers of healthcare support workers in Scotland (2009) http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2009/10/22092739/1

The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) 

The QCF is a national credit recognition and transfer system. It is a learning outcomes-based framework of units of study at designated levels from 1 - 8 with associated credit values. Units of study to achieve occupational competence may be found within the health and social care strand of the QCF.  

National Occupational Standards (NOS)

These describe the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to undertake a task or job at nationally recognised levels of competence. They are a minimum standard, forming the basis of vocational qualifications in the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQ).  For Health and Social Care, NOS are mapped against, and indicatively linked to, the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) Dimensions.

More information can be found at www.skillsforhealth.org.uk and www.ukstandards.co.uk/

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships and Higher Apprenticeships may be used as a basis for development of staff in Career Bands 1-4 of the NHS. They may require a qualification to be undertaken as part of the programme.

Knowledge and Skills Framework - NHS KSF

The NHS Staff Council produced a Simplified KSF in November 2011, in response to the view that it was over-complicated. It is focused on the six core dimensions and has examples of behaviours and actions to indicate whether the dimension has been met.  It is intended to reduce the need for evidence gathering. 

Simplified KSF: http://nhsemployers.org/PayAndContracts/AgendaForChange/KSF/Simplified-KSF/Pages/SimplifiedKSF.aspx

NHS Employers

http://www.nhsemployers.org/Pages/home.aspx

The Skills Passport

This is a portable online record of career history, current skills and training, covering NHS, independent sector, clinical and non-clinical across all 4 UK countries. It is designed to ensure the transferability of skills and qualifications across the health sector. More details can be found at www.skillsforhealth.org.uk

Other links

NHS Education for Scotland Support Workers Toolkit including information about the Scottish Government's Mandatory Induction Standards and Code of Conduct for Healthcare Support Workers
http://www.hcswtoolkit.nes.scot.nhs.uk/

(All links accessed Nov 2012)

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