Case Study

Get Into Hospitals programme: The Prince's Trust

Read how East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) partnered with The Prince’s Trust to run the Get Into Hospitals programme.

16 September 2022

ELHT partnered with The Prince’s Trust in 2017 to run the Get Into Hospitals programme, made up of classroom-based activities and a work placement.

To date the trust has run ten programmes, employing 75 local young people. The programme now forms part of ELHT’s recruitment strategy helping to meet workforce gaps from within the community.


East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust’s (ELHT) footprint covers Blackburn and Burnley, both areas with high levels of social deprivation. By opening up recruitment to local young people in the community, the trust has developed a sustainable talent pipeline with high retention rates. This work is now part of the trust’s whole system approach to meeting skills gaps.

Key benefits and outcomes

  • 86 per cent of the young people who have completed the programme and were employed on the staff bank since 2017 are still employed in the trust.
  • 40 per cent of the young people who have completed the programme and were employed on the staff bank have now progressed into permanent roles.
  • Development opportunity available for existing staff to become ‘buddies’ for the young people and make a real difference to their lives.

What the organisation faced

The areas the trust serves, Blackburn with Darwen and Burnley, were ranked 24 and 17 out of 324 areas on the 2015 indices of deprivation. In 2017, Health Education England offered the trust funding to take part in a pilot pre-employment programme. Recognising its social responsibility to recruit and support members of the community, the trust thought this was the perfect opportunity to engage with local young people not in education, employment, or training (NEET).

What the organisation did

With support from the trust’s HR director, ELHT partnered with The Prince’s Trust to run the Get Into Hospitals programme, made up of classroom-based activities and a four-week work placement. The purpose of the programme is to assist young people who are not in work with a structured learning environment to:

  • understand what knowledge, skills, and work behaviours (soft skills) they have to offer prospective employers
  • develop the problem solving and communication skills that enable them to successfully compete for jobs
  • develop healthy relationships in the workplace.

On an ELHT programme, young people can also explore the career options available in the NHS, practise job seeking skills, gain an understanding of NHS values, learn how to interview successfully and receive feedback on skills, based on observed behaviours in a work environment.

The classroom-based part of the programme includes a paperwork day and core skills e-learning. This helps to embed candidates into the organisation, equip them with essential skills for employment and ensures they have the capability to complete the required learning.

Once on placement, the young people are partnered with a ‘buddy’ from the same department, with additional support provided throughout by The Prince’s Trust and the trust’s pre-employment co-ordinator.

A celebration event is held on the final day of placement and the young people are presented with certificates to formalise their achievement. They are also invited to tell the story of their individual journeys to trust board members, senior managers and the buddies. The young people are then informed if they have been offered employment. The Prince’s Trust provides mentoring support to those who are successful in their job application. Ongoing support is also given to unsuccessful candidates to help them find work.

Results and benefits

The first programme offered 11 young people placements in areas of estates and facilities, working as porters, domestics and laundry assistants. Ten completed the programme and seven were offered employment on the staff bank. Following the programme, it was apparent that the programme needed a dedicated facilitator (pre-employment co-ordinator) to act as a single point of contact. This ensures that the placement of the young people is not unduly onerous and any additional activity, other than direct supervision of the participant, remains with the pre-employment co-ordinator.

The trust quickly established that this was a real work opportunity and not work experience, so ensured that the young people accepted on the scheme had a real chance of employment following the placement. Selection of the right young people was crucial to this.

The current retention rate of those offered employment after completing the programme is 100 per cent.

ELHT has now run 10 programmes ranging between 5-14 participants. Requests from service areas has meant the team now run three programmes per year, the initial aim was only two. This is because suitability of those employed from this programme is considered to be higher than those recruited via traditional recruitment processes. The current retention rate of those offered employment following successful completion of the Get into Hospitals Programme is 100 per cent.

The roles gained by programme participants highlights the breadth of roles available in the NHS, from health care assistants to catering assistants and administrators. A high percentage of the young people choose to work on the bank rather than in substantive posts as this fits with other commitments and they enjoy the flexibility the staff bank offers. This suits the organisation, providing a trained and flexible workforce that can be utilised to cover gaps in service. For others, the bank provides a stepping stone to a substantive post so they are ready to apply when a vacancy arises.


The table details the number of cohorts who have completed programmes and gone on to gain employment at the trust.

Prince’s Trust


Number completing programme

Employed on staff bank

Percentage employed on staff bank

Substantive role

Percentage moved into substantive roles

Cohort 1

Apr-May 2017






Cohort 2

Feb-Mar 2018






Cohort 3

Nov-Dec 2018






Cohort 4

Jul-Aug 2019






Cohort 5

Nov-Dec 2019






Cohort 6

March 2020






Cohort 7

May-Aug 2020  3 3 100% 3 100%

Cohort 8

Jun-Aug 2021 7 6 85.71% 1 17%

Cohort 9

Nov-Dec 2021 5 5 100% 0 0%

Cohort 10

Feb-Mar 2022 9 8 88.89% 0 0%

Cohort 11

July - Aug 2022 11 8 72.73% 0 0%


  98 83 86.45% 23 40%

Overcoming obstacles

Initially there were concerns expressed over the suitability of the candidates due to the challenges they have faced in their lives including some previous offending behaviour. To overcome this, The Prince’s Trust meets and chats to all the applicants and selects the most appropriate young people for the programme based on their current support needs. If a young person is not selected, The Prince’s Trust offers additional support which may enable them to access a future programme. The final choice of suitability of the candidates is made by the buddies in the departments that are offering placements, as they understand the requirements of the environments in which they work.

The young people are partnered with a buddy and supervised at all times while on placement. It is essential that the young people are accompanied to the department of work for their first shift, introduced to members of staff and undertake a local induction. This ensures they settle into placement and any ‘teething troubles’ are dealt with in real time.

While on placement, all the young people are visited on a regular basis by The Prince’s Trust programme executive and the pre-employment co-ordinator, to offer support if required and to monitor progress. Buddies and managers are also contacted on a regular basis to gather and address feedback.

Some of the young people, despite having strong practical skills and a good work ethic are not confident with completing forms. To help them navigate the recruitment process the pre-employment co-ordinator assists with job applications.

Takeaway tips

  • The pre-employment co-ordinator has been essential to help with the completion of paperwork, providing pastoral support and securing placement opportunities. They also link with The Prince’s Trust, record outcomes and maintain contact with those that have been offered employment on the bank to support them into substantive employment. This full support has resulted in a very low dropout rate.

"The importance of this role has been acknowledged by ELHT who now fund it permanently. Recruitment is an ongoing challenge for the NHS and a whole-systems approach is essential."

Gillian Cairns, education and workforce lead, East Lancashire Hospital NHS Trust.

  • Evaluation has been crucial after every programme and improvements are implemented on a regular basis.
  • Embedding the programme required board level support. Executive sponsors at board level participate in the celebration event which highlights the importance of the programme to the wider organisation, this also highlights the outcomes to the board. A local dignitary participates in the celebration event, raising the profile of the work within the organisation and to a wider audience.
  • It is essential that a DBS check is completed prior to placement commencing. This ensures not only that appropriate checks are completed but on completion of the programme the young people can be fast-tracked through the recruitment process.
  • The placement enables the service to have confidence in the employment offer given to those who may not have come across well at a traditional interview but nevertheless are suitable for employment.

Mo's story

Hello, my name is Mo. Prior to joining the programme I was working in casual jobs with limited opportunities. My uncle told me about the scheme, so I applied and attended the taster day. I was placed as a patient services assistant where I worked as a porter. The staff were really friendly and helpful. After the placement, I was thrilled to be offered bank shifts. I worked on the bank for six months as a patient services assistant.

While out in the hospital, I was inspired to pursue a career in nursing. The work-based education team supported me and I applied for a role as a health care assistant (HCA). In October 2018, I started a permanent role as a full time HCA in the A&E department. I have passed my Care Certificate and have gained a position as a senior HCA. My next goal is to progress as a trainee nursing associate, then continue to work towards becoming a registered nurse.

Update: September 2022

Mo has since been successful in his career progression, commencing his role as a Trainee Nursing Associate in April 2022.

Further information

You can find out more information about the work in this case study, contact Gillian Cairns, education and workforce lead, East Lancashire Hospital NHS Trust.

Additional resources

Find out more about the programme from those directly involved.

“We’ve worked with the Prince’s Trust for six years. It’s proven an invaluable route for getting young people into work within our organisation... something which we were very keen to do. 85% of everybody who participates in the programme ends up in substantive employment with us”.

Gillian Cairns, education and workforce lead, East Lancashire Hospital NHS Trust  

Get into Hospitals success story

Thomas's story