Debate: Mandatory training

That this meeting of Congress discusses the risks of employers failing to support mandatory training.

All staff – wherever they work – have a mandate to complete mandatory training. Mandatory means compulsory and that means there is no option but to do it. Some health care institutions even withhold increments if this is not done.

Staff often feel they have to complete the training in their own time, impacting on personal areas of their life. Is it so much to ask for time to complete the training that they want us to do? We understand the need for mandatory training, ensuring the health and wellbeing of patients and staff, and to meet directives set down by the Health and Safety Executive but why does it have to be in our own time?

This type of training is designed to reduce organisational risks and to comply with local or national policies and government guidelines. However, do we not give enough to the health care service in breaks not taken and hours worked over for no extra money? Of course we must ensure staff have the right skills, values and training to deliver the highest quality care but at a cost to ourselves? Finding the right balance between mandatory training and every day work requirements becomes tougher and tougher.

According to the most recent health and social care (HSC) staff survey in Northern Ireland, access to training for nurses employed within the HSC is inconsistent. For example, almost half (46%) have never received training in managing violence, almost half (44%) have never received IT training, 38% have never received major incident training, and almost one-third (31%) have never received equality and diversity training. Access rates however are significantly higher for mandatory infection control training (95%) and handling confidential information (84%).

The RCN Employment Survey 2015, surveyed access to mandatory training for NHS Nurses. In each example given (such as health and safety, CPR) Wales was below the UK average. In addition the RCN is also concerned about the access of nurses employed outside the NHS (for example, in GP surgeries and care homes). The RCN continues to campaign for increased access to this training.

Although mandatory training is better protected in Scotland because of the staff governance standard, nurses do still report that operational challenges still makes it difficult to get time off and staff often report doing training in their own time. Compliance with the standard is monitored at national level through the Scottish Workforce and Governance Group which is co-chaired by the RCN.

All training - never mind just mandatory training - usually appears to be secondary to everything else both for the employee and the employer but it should not be like this. Mandatory training is training required for your role so you should be paid to undertake it. Staff are the NHS’s most important asset therefore they should invest in them. This does not just mean with money but with time as well. The NMC is clear that registrants must be up to date and competent but they do not say how or when this should be achieved. The RCN is also clear that mandatory training is work training and should be done in work time but do not state how. Lack of time to achieve this is a real issue and if we do not do something about it more and more will be added to mandatory training with an expectation that staff will get it done even if this means in their own time.

“A theft of nurses’ time” was a key theme heard on the debating floor this afternoon.

All staff have to complete mandatory and statutory training. But nursing staff are not given the time by many employers to fit this in during working hours.

Jean Rogers, proposer, highlighted the lack of available time, resources, and even the basic equipment needed to undertake the training that our employers expect nurses to do. She said that some employers are even threatening or withholding incremental rises if the training is not undertaken.

Heather Mercer, a nurse in the independent sector, said that much on her training was done through e-learning, with the opportunity to repeat the training again and again until you passed.

Staff training becomes secondary when there are staff shortages, said Mike Travis, of the Liverpool and Knowsley Branch. The cost of implementation means that mandatory training isn’t done.

Appropriate training needs to be done to keep patients safe, said Jed Swinton, Southampton and Isle of Wight Branch member, but problems exist around the  quality of training being delivered, the frequency and the fact that staff are giving up their personal, unpaid time to attend it.

Jason Warriner spoke about the successes he and colleagues had implemented in his workplace, including listening to staff needs and fitting training around that, using blended learning and most importantly, ensuring staff had the time to do it as part of their role.

This was the first Congress debate also open on Twitter. Tweets included one from Laura Hodgetts: 'I have found it harder to attend skills outside of mandatory training, which doesn't encourage learning unless in own time.'

And Jo Day: 'Surely lack of support for training is another factor in nurses demoralisation and leaving profession? We are never going to resolve the problems of growing our profession if we don't invest in development of existing nurses.'

Result: passed


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14 May 2017 15:45 - 16:15

Location To Be Confirmed


Matter for discussion, submitted by the RCN UK Learning Representatives Committee

Page last updated - 04/08/2020