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Learning and development at work: Opportunities and barriers for non-registered clinical staff in the National Health Service Scotland

McCraw, Deborah J.


Deborah J. McCraw


The non-registered assistant workforce in the National Health Service Scotland (NHSS) has recently been afforded increased attention due, in part, to forecast changes in demographics and the NHSS workforce and reorganisation in delivery of healthcare. Government health papers pursue the strategic aims of developing the workforce to meet the changing needs of the Health Service. This thesis reports on research into workplace learning in the NHSS. It examines the NHSS in relation to the concepts of ‘The Learning Organisation’, ‘Expansive/Restrictive Learning Environments’ and the learning initiative of the Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) route, adopted by the NHSS for its nonregistered clinical employees.
Participants in the research included non-registered clinical assistants to registered nurses and allied health professionals and learning facilitators and managers. A critical realist methodology was adopted and through an embedded case study, data collection methods included one-to-one semistructured interviews and secondary data from the NHS staff survey. This produced a rich source of data for analysis around the perceptions of the participants. Findings show that the NHSS has introduced the concept of a learning organisation to its strategic plans with no real rigour. Some elements of an expansive learning environment exist but these are evident in only some clinical areas. This means that for the assistant workforce, personal development and learning opportunities are dependent on the place of work and the profession they are employed by. The SVQ is embraced by those who are given the opportunity to undertake this initiative but disparities exist throughout the NHSS. Furthermore, the SVQ is perceived as validation of existing knowledge only that does not provide any new learning. This further curtails development opportunities for the assistant group of staff.
This thesis has provided the NHSS with a basis to reconsider their strategic direction around learning and development opportunities at work for their nonregistered clinical staff.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 9, 2009
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Healthcare delivery; Assistant workers; Training; SVQ; Case studies; Questionnaires; Inequality of learning opportunities;
Public URL
Contract Date Mar 9, 2009
Award Date 2008-09


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