Delivering urgent coronavirus training to thousands of NHS staff and volunteers.

University Hospitals Birmingham is an NHS Foundation Trust operating hospitals and clinics across the West Midlands. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a new Nightingale hospital in Birmingham was opened as the Trust prepared to deliver treatments in some of the most testing circumstances imaginable.

Among the key considerations during the fast-track opening of the Nightingale hospital was the need to provide staff inductions and essential training to up to 60,000 staff and volunteers working there.

We’ve been working with UHB since 2010 and they requested our urgent support to build a MOOC (massive open online course) that would provide important healthcare training on COVID-19, as well as guiding staff on the practicalities of working in the new hospital.

The learning platform needed to:

  • Provide training to doctors and registered nurses treating COVID-19.
  • Upskill other healthcare professionals providing treatment during the pandemic.
  • Deliver inductions and advice for facilities and administration staff.
  • Offer online learning for members of the public and carers seeking more information on COVID-19.

Crucially, the learning platform needed to be built in just six days to ensure it was ready to train staff in time for the Nightingale hospital opening.

Upskilling in a pandemic

We worked around the clock to build and test a learning platform that would give NHS staff the training they needed to lead the fight against COVID-19.

Using Moodle Workplace, we provided bespoke development and UX design to give NHS staff easy to access more than 60 different courses. The courses followed five distinct learning pathways, which were tailored to each user’s role.

Taking user experience as our starting point, we customised each page to make the journey around the platform as simple as possible. This included the homepage, login page, self-registration, personalised dashboard and course pages.

From the information provided by each learner on the self-registration page, we created a set of dynamic rules to ensure the user was automatically assigned to courses they needed to take. These automated triggers and actions were crucial in saving valuable time that would otherwise have been spent on site administration.

We migrated existing courses and structured them alongside the new training to ensure that courses were presented to each learner in the recommended order. This included prioritising mandatory training and ensuring other courses were relevant and followed a logical learning experience.

Moodle Workplace’s report builder, with its search and filter tools, ensured UHB could easily track the progress of a large volume of users. This was essential in ensuring all mandatory training had been completed.

We automated the certification process, so that UHB learners are issued with certificates when they complete a programme without the need for any action from UHB’s admins.

Building confidence and competence to fight COVID-19

University Hospitals Birmingham and neighbouring NHS Trusts successfully treated and contained the virus within existing hospital capacity, which meant the Nightingale hospital was never required to take patients.

Nonetheless, NHS staff were facing a deadly disease about which they would have had no prior knowledge. In many cases, they were doing so in a completely new working environment and in jobs that were drastically different to their usual roles. The learning platform we delivered gave them easy access to crucial information in the short timescale needed.

In the days and weeks after the NHS Nightingale Birmingham MOOC launched, thousands of NHS staff and volunteers completed training to boost their knowledge of treating COVID-19 or get the skills they needed to take on new roles with confidence.

“We would like to thank Synergy Learning for turning this project around so quickly. UHB is one of the largest teaching hospital trusts in England and we are at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19, along with our colleagues across the rest of the UK. We are very proud to be launching this platform in the West Midlands and hope it helps alleviate some of the worries I know many colleagues have.

“With a wide range of skills required at this time, it is important that all staff and volunteers are confident in their knowledge. The focus of the learning platform is to ensure that all staff and volunteers are equipped with the most recent information available to them and have the most up to date skills to enable them to be competent and confident in caring for their patients.”

Tracey Starkey-Moore, Deputy Director of Education, University Hospitals Birmingham

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