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16. Skills Passport

Resolution submitted by the RCN Cheshire East Branch

That this meeting of RCN Congress asks Council to lobby for the Skills Passport for Health to be implemented across the NHS and other sectors where nurses are employed

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Progress reports

Submitted by: Cheshire East Branch
Council lead and committee assigned: Ian Norris, Nursing Practice and Policy Committee
Committee decision: Integrate project into ongoing work stream
Members involved: Rosemary Wheeler and Jean Rogers, Cheshire East Branch

Final summary update at May 2012

This debate strongly suggested that a Skills Passport for Health should be implemented across the NHS and other sectors where nurses are employed. The Skills Passport is a portable, online record of an individual UK nursing staff’s career history, current skills and training.

Since Congress, a Skills Passport Strategy Group has been established by Skills for Health, and includes RCN staff members. 2009-2011 saw the completion of the first phase of the Skills Passport project. This work involved pilot websites, external evaluation reports of the sites, and proof of the validity of the passport concept.

RCN members were involved in the project through testing of the Skills Passport during the pilot phase. Members were also directed to the Skills for Health online survey of statutory/mandatory training for health care, which explored which core subject areas should be contained within the Skills Passport.

The passport is now in the final stages of development, with the aim of being completed in 2013. The RCN continues to be represented on the Skills Passport Strategy Group, and RCN members will be kept up to date with the progress of the project.

Update at November 2012

At Congress 2011 it was strongly suggested that a Skills Passport for Health be implemented across the NHS and other sectors where nurses are employed.

A Skills Passport Strategy Group has since been established by Skills for Health, and is chaired by Dr David Foster – Deputy Chief Nursing Officer – England.  RCN staff leads Linda McBride, Learning and Development Manager, and Tanis Hand, Health Care Assistant (HCA) Adviser, are stakeholders of the group.

As of November 2011, 450 Trusts are currently involved in a pilot project to implement skills passport in the workplace (The size of the workforce is 1,657,000, although this number excludes a number of independent sector providers who have either agreed or expressed an interest in being involved).

Linda McBride, RCN Learning and Development Manager and Tanis Hand, RCN HCA Adviser, attended a meeting in August 2011 with Andrew Butcher, Director of Development, Skills for Health and John Herring, Director, Skills Passport for Health from the Skills Passport Strategy Group to discuss what the RCN’s future role could be within the strategy group.   Following the outcome of this meeting the RCN’s Learning & Development Institute and the Nursing Department are collaborating on this piece of work with the Cheshire East Branch to determine next steps.

Linda McBride also attended a strategy meeting for the Skills Passport at Skills for Health on 8 September 2011.  Further to this meeting it has been agreed that:

As a result of the meeting, the RCN Communications Department directed members to the Skills for Health online survey of statutory/mandatory training for health care.  Linda Mc Bride and Tanis Hand will continue to influence the development of the skills passport through attendance at the Strategy Group meetings, and the Skills Passport Programme Director has provided a briefing to RCN CEO and General Secretary Dr Peter Cater, the RCN Executive Team.  RCN Council Lead Ian Norris, and the Cheshire East Branch will continue to be key stakeholders in this work.

Further discussions have also taken place with Linda McBride to ensure that the RCN Accreditation Unit understands how the implementation of the Skills Passport might influence the future work of the accreditation unit.

Debate report

Vera Cook, Cheshire East Branch, led a debate on the benefits the Skills for Health Passport could bring to the nursing profession and the economy. She explained that the passport allows mobility and flexibility across all health care sectors and believes it should be adopted by employers across the four countries of the UK. She believes it has the potential to save money and resources by avoiding the duplication of training, she said “Duplication of training is a drain on financial resources” which is even more important in an economic recession. She also said that it would help nursing staff manage their careers more effectively. 

Seconder Diane Burns, Education Forum, stated it’s the “the most appropriate tool to record skills” and that it will save money.

Betty Kershaw, Manchester Central Branch explained that it will save time and money and stop nurses being retrained over and over again. She stated that it is a “standardised, accredited and validated document” which will greatly benefit nursing staff and the economy.

Members voted in favour if the resolution


For                         372         84.58%
Against                  68           15.42%
Abstain                 22


The Skills for Health Council is in the process of developing a Skills Passport scheme for individuals within the health care arena which will provide an online repository for an individual’s employment record, skills, competencies, achievements, qualifications, training and posts held. This electronic record will be searchable and can be issued by all stakeholders involved, whether those are within NHS establishments, non-NHS health sectors, training organisations or indeed individuals.

Evaluation studies undertaken across England by Skills for Health have identified a number of key benefits of the scheme which include providing a transferable verified record that allows for mobility across and within sectors and organisations, a reduction of the duplication of statutory and mandatory training and some generic training, and the elimination of identity theft or the risk of fraudulent professionals getting into the health sector.  The scheme also has a potential benefit for nurses wishing to work overseas as they will be able to verify their competence, skills, qualifications, career profile and achievements.

The recommendations and findings of the studies are now being taken forward to build the 2011 objectives for Skills Passport and determine a plan for rollout. The RCN Cheshire East Branch has participated in a pilot phase of the project and is part of the rollout strategy.

The RCN has a strong working relationship with Skills for Health, having previously collaborated with the council in the development of a core competency framework for nursing. The RCN has provided stakeholder input into the development of the Skills Passport concept, and has membership representation within many of the pilot sites being used to evaluate the Skills Passport.

References and further reading

Holstrom, R. (2010) Skills passports show the way ahead. Nursing Standard, 25 (9), pp. 62 - 63

Skills for Health (2010a) Skills passport for health: pilot assessment March 2010, Bristol: Skills for Health. Available at: http://www.skillsforhealth.org.uk/developing-your-organisations-talent/Skills-passports.aspx  (Accessed 02/02/11) (Web)

Skills for Health (2010b) Skills passport for health: phase two evaluation of skills passport for health: pilot December 2010, Bristol: Skills for Health. Available at: http://www.skillsforhealth.org.uk/developing-your-organisations-talent/Skills-passports.aspx  (Accessed 02/02/11) (Web)