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Department of Health

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Skill mix

Skill mix changes are becoming increasingly common within the NHS and social care and competence frameworks being developed by Skills for Health are supporting this.

For example, the Skills for Health NHS National Practitioner Programmes (in surgery, anaesthesia, critical care, endoscopy and medical care) will continue, hosted by Strategic Health Authorities until the national curriculum framework and regulatory arrangements are established. Large-scale workforce change schemes, based on the Accelerated Development Programmes and the more recent 'rapid roll-out' model for imaging services, will now be provided through NHS Employers. In 2005/06, these schemes will focus on roles in maternity, children's services and long-term conditions. In mental health a 'creating capable teams' methodology is to be published early in 2006 to facilitate a multi-disciplinary approach to 'New Ways of Working' and skill mix.

New ways of working are also being developed in mental health through the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) and the Community Information Systems Project (CISP).

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Multi-disciplinary team co-ordination
A new multi-disciplinary team (MDT) co-ordinator role has been introduced in the Royal Berkshire and Battle Hospital NHS Trust in Reading. The new post is already resulting in much smoother patient pathways and better transfer of information between cancer teams across the Trust.

As one of the Trust's four full-time MDT co-ordinators, Juanita Asumda's main task is to ensure information and communications pass effectively between secondary and tertiary centres, where previously things may have been lost in the system and patient treatment delayed as a result.

 "A central part of my role involves tracking patient notes, checking appointments, history and waiting list data - ensuring that they are traceable at all times and returned without delaying patient care," says Juanita. "MDT co-ordinators also organise and attend MDT meetings where we ensure the correct patient information is available at the right time. This means informed decisions can be made about the best course of treatment for each patient and cancer waiting time targets are more likely to be met."

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