A drive to raise literacy and numeracy skill levels within the healthcare sector has led to the launch of the first sector-specific initial assessment tools from Skills for Health.
The free-to-use online tools are designed specifically for staff working in healthcare in the UK and draw on "real-life" scenarios to maximise their relevance to users.
Examples include listening to messages from patients, interpreting instructions, tables and charts and calibrating equipment.
Staff who use the tools receive an assessment indicating their literacy and numeracy levels, which can be used to support skills development activities and a route into career progression.
According to Skills for Health, healthcare employers can benefit from the tools by using them as part of staff development procedures.
Skills for Health Divisional Manager Rosemarie Simpson said: "The importance of literacy and numeracy skills in healthcare can't be understated. They're key to delivering high-quality patient care, as well as improving the career prospects of staff.
"Healthcare staff generally have higher literacy and numeracy levels than some other workforce sectors, but many people will not have checked their skills for some time."
Skills for Health recommends that the tools be used as part of a "whole organisation" approach, in which in which literacy and numeracy assessment is embedded in staff development processes.