Head of Public Health Development Programmes, NHS South of England, Joanna Chapman-Andrews
We chose the Open University to provide our training mainly because when we put the contract out to tender, it was the organisation that showed the most imagination in what it could provide – and in terms of how our staff could develop.
We wanted a programme that would assess practitioners against a set of standards. A colleague who had done an Open University course suggested we invite the OU to pitch, and now our employees’ training includes the course K311 Promoting Public Health.
It was also the way the OU suggested the course could be accessed that made us choose them. They showed an enthusiasm and willingness to develop our practitioners beyond what they could do now – they showed how staff could use the programme to keep learning and developing.
NHS South Central is a large area – all the way from Milton Keynes to the Isle of Wight – and the fact that its distance learning means that practitioners can access this course wherever they are. We targeted recruiting to 50 places to begin with but soon had over 70 applicants, so the demand was established and we have now recruited a second and plan a third cohort in the coming year. The offer we make to our managers is that we help them to accredit and quality assure the practice of their staff, and the offer to employees is to achieve their individual award.
The students have been divided into different groups and supported differently. There are those where we can see from their applications they could easily put together a portfolio, those who need a little bit of pointing in the right direction, and those who need more support. But this is another advantage of OU learning – the students can all work at their own pace. We are pleased that students receive support from their tutors through face to face, email and telephone as well as in groups and help with study skills as required.
As commissioners and managers of the programme we have excellent communication with the OU with regular dialogue every two weeks. This is always with the same people so the consistency of help, support and service is ensured and they know exactly what we are talking about and what our requirements are.
The consistency and professionalism in how these courses are delivered makes learning accessible for our managers, and of course the new skills they acquire as a result can only be good for the patients they serve in the wider community.
I would certainly recommend The Open University as a provider of training for people in the work place. It has worked for us!