Successful recruitment of young pathology apprentices


08 / 12 / 2011


Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust provide hospital services to a large and diverse population of more than 450,000.

The trust became a Foundation Trust in 2007 and with approximately 3,200 staff, provides acute services including cardiology, maternity, stroke and emergency.

What we did and why

Following an apprenticeships presentation organised by the trust’s training and development department, the pathology training manager, Sheila Bithell, initialised discussions regarding employing apprentices.

Two vacant Band 3 posts were identified and with support from managers and financial backing, the Clinical Support Assistant posts were advertised at Band 3 utilising Annex U on NHS Jobs.

How we did it

The apprenticeship programme is being delivered in collaboration with Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust.

The trust uses a web based e-portfolio system which the apprentices can use to easily access their training plans, view their progress, upload evidence when required and have regular contact with their internal assessor.

The assessor regularly visits the trust to see the apprentices. These visits are planned in advance to ensure resources and equipment are available with the least amount of disruption to other members of staff and importantly the services that are being provided.

Results and next steps

Not only are the apprentices the first new employees in the Thames Valley region to register for the apprenticeship programme, they are also the first in the 16-18 year group.

The trust reports that the apprentices are providing a fresh pair of eyes encouraging colleagues to view systems and procedures then suggest alternatives. Given the apprentices rotate throughout different areas to support evidence gathering and completion of portfolios, there is a reduction in skill loss or stagnation.

The trust feels the apprentices have re-invigorated the pathology department and training programme, highlighting the importance of training.


Parris Brown, apprenticeship said “the e-portfolio system is intuitive and easy to use”.

Sheila Bithell, pathology training manager, “This programme is proving to be very successful and we are very happy with the progress we are making. We hope we can open this up to more in the future.
The two apprentices have brought a spirited enthusiasm to the department. They have become an essential part of our team”.


Sheila Bithell,

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