Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) sits alongside Health Boards and Trusts to be the only Special Health Authority within NHS Wales. HEIW has a leading role in the education, training, development, and shaping of the healthcare workforce in Wales, supporting high-quality care for the people of Wales.

Established in October 2018, HEIW brings together three key organisations for health - the Wales Deanery; NHS Wales’s Workforce Education and Development Services (WEDS) and the Wales Centre for Pharmacy Professional Education (WCPPE).

Swansea University Medical School is working with HEIW to ensure the health and care workforce meets the needs of the NHS and people of Wales. Working closely, HEIW and the Medical School can ensure Wales is developing the healthcare leaders of today and tomorrow, provide opportunities for the health and care workforce to develop new skill and help support the professional workforce and organisation development profession with Wales.

As part of our collaborative relationship, the All-Wales Medical Trainer Agreement for Secondary Care and Undergraduate Education was launched in October 2018. This represents the culmination of an extensive programme of work and collaboration between Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) and Swansea University Medical School along with Cardiff University.

The Agreement defines the role, responsibilities and rights of individual trainers, HEIW and the medical schools, and Health Boards and Trusts across NHS Wales, as well as mechanisms to support the provision of high quality medical education and training.  Incorporating all trainer roles in secondary care and undergraduate education, it is fundamental to meeting the Education Organisers’ responsibilities to the General Medical Council in formally recognising trainers’ status in Wales and achieving the regulators’ standards for medical education and training.  The roll out of the Agreement across Wales via a new online agreement system ensures an efficient and consistent approach for all Agreement signatories and stakeholders.

In signing the Agreement parties are demonstrating their commitment to important trainer roles and the provision of high quality trainee, placement and module supervision, as well as a suitable and supportive learning environment for students and trainees, ultimately leading to improved patient safety and enhanced quality of patient care. 

The Agreement is fundamental to enhancing the quality of undergraduate medical education and postgraduate medical training in Wales by raising the profile and visibility of the trainer and recognition of this role in supporting students and supervising trainees, as well as promoting excellence in education and training.  Fulfilment of the Agreement will contribute to consistency and transparency around the provision of education and training across NHS Health Boards and Trusts in Wales, co-ordinated and quality managed by the three Education Organisers.  It therefore makes an important contribution to Welsh Government’s ‘Train, Work, Live’ campaign and realisation of the recommendations in the Parliamentary Review of Health and Social Care in Wales, making Wales a great place to train and work.

Wales is the first in the UK to adopt this single harmonised approach to recognition of trainers, demonstrating HEIW and the medical schools’ commitment to collaboratively supporting individuals across the continuum of medical education and training in Wales.  

Next steps will include ensuring that HEIW delivers against its role as defined in the Agreement, in addition to assuring that NHS Wales Health Boards and individual trainers meet their responsibilities.  This will be underpinned by promotion of an environment in which trainers committed to high quality training provision in Wales are fully supported and developed and will underpin a community of practice comprising trainers across Wales with a shared interest in training excellence.