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Bio-safety training for DHSC

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The Challenge

To help manage the spread of COVID-19 and support economic recovery there is a need for widespread and frequent testing, with samples being analysed in public health laboratories. The massive increase in testing from pre-pandemic levels has required both higher throughput from existing labs and the opening of new facilities. This has involved the recruitment of many new staff, bringing with it challenges around training, including in safe working practices.

In November 2020, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) identified the need for a programme of bio-safety training aimed at recently recruited staff. DHSC required around 4,000 new recruits working in pathogen testing laboratories to achieve a consistent level of knowledge, allowing them to work safely with hazardous biological materials.

The Solution

DHSC wanted to work with HSE to develop this training because of our reputation and expertise as well as our connections within the scientific and government communities.

To address different levels of pre-existing knowledge and also the volume of trainees, HSE recommended a distance learning solution with an online programme of about 2.5 hours. We were able to quickly bring in subject matter experts to develop the content and partnered with Virtual College. who built the delivery platform.

The training focussed on safe working practices and the legislative requirements for working in a pathogen testing laboratory, giving trainees the confidence to work in a way that would not compromise the health and safety of themselves or others. It also developed their ability to identify when they need to call upon others to provide health and safety advice and support.

Learning was split into modules and trainees completed an online assessment on completion.

DHSC was clear that they wanted the programme to be developed according to feedback and so we delivered to lab technicians at first then used their feedback to refine the training and make it as impactful as possible.

The Outcome

HSE training is unlike that of any other provider - our content is built around up-to-date real-world expertise, robust science and current regulations. Training is delivered by experts in their fields and is fully aligned with the requirements of the regulator.

HSE's expertise was spot on. The project team were knowledgable and proactive in terms of helping to develop excellent content and the HSE relationship manager knew who to bring in at the right time. We were very well supported.
Felix Bramley, NHS Test and Trace, DHSC

The challenge we faced - developing six online modules within a matter of weeks - could not have been achieved without the collaboration of all the team players across the three organisations, whether that was HSE's subject matter experts working closely with our instructional designers to create this robust and interactive training, or the project managers working together to ensure the tight deadlines were met and everything ran smoothly. It was no small feat, and the positive feedback we have received from learners is fantastic proof that the collaboration and hard work has more than paid off.
Simon Falconer, Virtual College

To find out how we could help you with your bespoke training needs, please email

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