James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust deliver apprenticeship programme to address future skills gaps


19 / 03 / 2013

The organisation

James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust provides comprehensive acute care for the population of Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, and the South Waveney area. As a university hospital, the trust also trains over one third of the medical students from the University of East Anglia and has a strong national reputation for research and excellence.

East Coast Community Healthcare works in partnership with a range of organisations to improve the health of local people, develop primary and community healthcare, and commission services. The trust serves a population of 230,000, which is characterised by deprivation and health inequalities to a higher extent than other areas of the East of England.

Partners since 2010 include Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust, Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, and NHS Norfolk and Waveney.

What we did and why

In April 2009, NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney and James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust launched an apprenticeship programme to address future skills gaps and give people of all ages the chance to work towards valuable and recognised qualifications. 

Both organisations knew that they needed to improve workforce capability and capacity in view of ambitious national and local developments; they also wanted to attract new recruits into the NHS from the local community. Other reasons for launch of the programme included:

  • Addressing the demographics of an ageing workforce
  • Planning for future workforce requirements and a desire to 'grow our own'
  • Offering a more practical route to career progression
  • A desire to inspire young people and provide them with fulfilling jobs.

How the partnership grew

After only one year, the partnership grew to include 7 NHS organisations in Norfolk and Waveney, all of whom were committed to working collaboratively to create a brand of NHS apprenticeships that delivered employment and development opportunities to the local community.

The results of this partnership and commitment to the programme are impressive; over 1,000 apprenticeships have been delivered in four years. Such figures were achieved by making an upfront investment and establishing an apprenticeship hub in the east, west and centre of the county, which covered acute, primary care and mental health trusts and providers.

What started as an initiative to engage apprentices has now expanded to include pre-apprenticeship programmes, work experience and volunteering schemes for young people.

The results

Quality of patient care is paramount. Using apprenticeship frameworks as the ‘gold standard’ for training ensures that pre-professional staff are trained to deliver exemplary care. Apprentices are recruited for their attitude and values and are given mentoring, supervision, and support to gain confidence and experience in their role. On completion, they are given the tools, skills, and support to find permanent employment or further educational opportunities, whether these be within the NHS or the wider community.

There are a wide range of apprenticeship frameworks being taken across the partnership organisations ranging from Business Administration and IT to Clinical Healthcare Support, Support Services, and Team Leading and Management.

Organisations across the partnership work closely with agencies such as Jobcentre Plus and the Princes Trust ‘Get into Hospital’ initiative to provide support to people not in education, employment or training (NEETs). They also see the value in promoting NHS apprenticeships to young people, who will become the workforce of the future, and attend career events and deliver workshops on writing job applications and interview skills in schools and colleges.

A word from one of our apprentices

Chloe Cashman, an apprentice on the Intensive Care Unit who has progressed to the role of Therapy Assistant on the Stroke Unit says: 

'I’ve definitely learnt more by being able to work and study at the same time. The training has broadened my knowledge and understanding of clinical care. It makes you question what you do and how you do it on a daily basis. As apprentices I think the staff take care of us more. I’m also encouraged to do lots of additional training'.

Chloe has completed a Level 2 Apprenticeship in Clinical Healthcare Support. 

Staff Nurse Paul Gomulak on the Intensive Care Unit said: 

'Chloe integrated herself into the team extremely well. She is professional, articulate, and able to talk to any member of the team whilst having awareness of her limitations'.

Next steps

Health services are facing tough economic challenges and NHS staffing levels are projected to reduce by 6% over the next 5 years. A national transformational programme for the NHS aims to make challenging savings and redirect investment into frontline care. In line with this aim, a Norfolk and Waveney strategic priority is to increase participation in pre-professional staff development programmes.  Apprenticeships will play a key role in developing a future workforce with the skills and behaviours to deliver excellent care and service.

Contact details

For further information, please contact Jill Elsworthy, Apprenticeship Co-ordinator jill.elsworthy@jpaget.nhs.uk

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