13 October 2022
New data published today reveals that over three quarters of NHS workers (76%) are interested in participating in overseas training programmes to develop and share news skills. However, several barriers are currently limiting participation, with seven in ten (69%) citing a lack of free time and more than half (51%) pinning to a lack of funding.
The NHS Global Engagement Perceptions Study, commissioned by global health charity THET surveyed more than 1,000 NHS clinicians about global health activities and training, to understand the role it could play in NHS workforce retention. The survey was conducted by IPSOS Mori and funded by Health Education England (HEE).
The research found that currently over half of NHS staff have never participated in global health activities and of those who had, the majority (53%) self-fund this type of activity, locking many workers out from participating.
The motivations of those who have participated in this type of training varies, but the top reasons are personal development and the sharing of knowledge and skills with others, which were both endorsed by over half of respondents.
Of the 76% of respondents who would be keen to undertake overseas training opportunities, nurses and respondents aged 25-29 years were more likely to be very interested, at 42% and 68% respectively.
THET is calling on the government to consider adopting a similar model* to that of NHS Wales whereby colleagues are given an allotted five days’ paid leave a year to take part in such training, for the benefits on staff retention.
Ben Simms, Chief Executive Officer, comments: “We launch this research at a time when the NHS is experiencing huge shortfalls in workforce and nurses are considering strike action over lack of pay. The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent drive to clear the patient backlog has piled huge pressure on clinicians across the country and it is understandable that they are fed up. Exchange programmes and training regularly feature in other public and private sector organisations as a way of motivating and retaining staff, so why couldn’t this be formally replicated and mandated by NHS England? Funding high quality and exciting training opportunities overseas demonstrates a clear investment in its people, and one that will have mutual benefits for our wider health system, with new skills, knowledge and innovation being brought back directly into the NHS. These results show that NHS workers want purpose and initiatives like this would provide exactly that.”
Significantly, the survey reveals that 33% NHS workers believing Covid-19 should have led to higher Government spending on UK Aid overseas. Only 16% of workers thought it should have led to less spending.
Dorcas Gwata, a mental health nurse, comments: “Having visited Tanzania in 2015 and Myanmar in 2017, I have experienced the benefits of delivering training overseas first-hand. Engaging with health workers overseas is hugely enlightening and offers a new perspective that leads to real changes across the NHS, whether it be tackling issues differently, driving efficiencies or improving patient care. Meanwhile, our presence abroad helps strengthen other health systems, which is surely an imperative after witnessing the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the inextricable link between the health of our nation and that of others.”
*NHS Wales model unrelated to the study findings.