Strengthening the health informatics profession

17/02/2014

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) is pleased to report that following the development and launch of the Level 3 Diploma in Health Informatics1, the Health Informatics Apprenticeship Framework2 has also been further enhanced and now covers both intermediate and advanced levels. In addition, the apprenticeship framework has also been approved for funding by the Skills Funding Agency3. This means that colleges and training providers can access funding to cover the cost of the training. 

The qualifications were developed in partnership between the Developing Informatics Skills and Capability (DISC) team within HSCIC, NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS), Skills for Health, and awarding bodies in England and Wales.

Supported by the HSCIC, the Skills for Health Academy North West, Health Education England North West, the City of Liverpool College and local NHS employers worked collaboratively to launch the first cohort of health informatics apprentices - in September 2013.  As part of the scheme, the apprentices will undertake the Level 2 Extended Certificate in Health Informatics qualification4 which underpins the intermediate apprenticeship framework.

Brigid Marray-Kilgallen, Cadet Coordinator at the academy said: It is always a challenge starting off a new programme but I am so pleased with our first cohort of health informatics cadets. They have received plaudits from their placements and given useful insights into the real world of health informatics. Because of their experience, these cadets are on the pathway to the right behaviours and values for the future NHS.’

The apprentices are employed by the National Skills Academy Health’s Apprenticeship Training Agency and are supported by academy staff throughout their apprenticeship. After completion of their six week college-based induction, this first group of apprentices moved into work placements late last year. The apprentices now spend one day in college and four days a week in their placements within the information management departments of over 12 NHS organisations across Cheshire and Merseyside including Liverpool Women’s Hospital, Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and Informatics Merseyside, amongst others.

Ryan Lomax, Project Manager at Informatics Merseyside said: Working with the cadet programme gives us an exciting opportunity to be involved in the development of young people and the future of the NHS. It gives the cadets the chance to develop the knowledge and experience that will make them more employable and allows them to develop skills that will prove valuable to any NHS organisation.’

Jackie Smith, Informatics Development Manager at HSCIC, said Part of our organisation’s strategy is to develop a UK informatics skills base in health and social care to support the wider economy, so we’re really excited to see this now coming into fruition in the North West. By providing professional education and training resources, we can drive forward the informatics capability agenda as it gathers momentum throughout the country. It is expected the apprentices in the North West will be the first of many, as the demand for informatics specialists grows amongst NHS organisations.”

If your organisation is considering taking on health informatics apprentices, you may find it useful to take a look at the National Skills Academy website6. They offer a membership scheme to employers,7 which can support your organisation with recruitment, identification of funding and practical support with setting up and maintaining apprenticeships. 

 For more information about health informatics, apprenticeships and the supportive resources available, or to just talk about what is happening in your area, please contact the national team: disc.team@hscic.gov.uk.

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