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Common learning to produce new generation of health and social care professionals

Published: 14 February 2002

The Department of Health announced today (Thursday) that the New Generation Project, an innovative collaboration between the Universities of Southampton and Portsmouth, and the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Workforce Development Confederation, is one of four leading-edge programmes across the country to take forward common learning in health and social care professional education.

The New Generation Project aims to transform the education of health and social care professionals. Against a background of changes in the National Health Service, driven both by workforce challenges and by the Government's commitment to people-focused services, the New Generation Project involves a radical review of curricula. "The goal is to produce a new generation of health and social care professional students, teachers and practitioners able to acknowledge shared and complementary knowledge and competencies, while valuing each individual professional's unique contribution, strengths, and skills," said Dr Debra Humphris, Project Director.

As well as challenging stereotypes of established roles in the health service, and developing new ones, the Project will also promote greater flexibility within professional pathways and wider access. The Government is committed to taking forward common learning and ensuring that it is part of all pre-registration programmes by 2004.

"We said in the NHS Plan that radical reform is required in NHS education and training to reshape care around the patient. Joint training across professions is key to this process," said Health Minister John Hutton. "This is an important step towards reaching our target that all health professionals should expect their education and training to include common learning with other professions.

"This will have positive and far-reaching effects on the NHS with nurses, midwives, dentists, health professions, and doctors equipped with new skills, roles, and ways of flexible and responsive working."

The Department of Health is providing funding of £2.5 million for the four national pilot programmes, of which the largest share, £1.7 million, will be coming to the New Generation Project.

Across Southampton and Portsmouth, the first cohort of 1500 students will begin the new programmes in October 2003, graduating from 2006 onwards. The New Generation Project will develop and deliver an integrated interprofessional Common Learning Programme, across 10 professional programmes from Medicine and Midwifery, to Physiotherapy and Social Work.

"We want to identify what these students can learn together, and create a common learning programme that reaches across all of the existing courses, but still prepares people to exit through specific Pathways," said Debra Humphris. "We are modernizing the education and training of our students who will enter the health and social care professions, and making them fit for the future," she added.

Notes for editors

  1. The ten professional programmes involved are: Medicine, Midwifery, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Diagnostic Radiography, Therapeutic Radiography, and Social Work.
  2. The Faculty of Medicine, Health and Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton provides a unique infrastructure for health professional education and research. It has a tradition of developing interprofessional learning and is the originator of the New Generation Project concept. The Faculty includes the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing and Midwifery, the School of Health Professional and Rehabilitation Sciences, and the School of Biological Sciences. The project also includes the School of Social Work Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences. This rich mix of professional programmes within the University has led over the past decade to numerous developments ininterprofessional learning and practice.
  3. At the University of Portsmouth the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences has an excellent reputation for the delivery of Pharmacy and Radiography education; the School of Social Work at the University is also a partner in the project.
  4. The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Workforce Development Confederation is responsible for development, education and lifelong learning of the NHS workforce in the area. Both the Workforce Development Confederation and the Postgraduate Deanery have been firm sponsors and supporters of the Project's development.
  5. The other leading edge sites for the Common Learning Programme are the University of Newcastle, the University of Sheffield/Sheffield Hallam University, and King's College London.

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