How a Yorkshire nursing boost is helping give vital support on the NHS frontline during the pandemic

An innovative Yorkshire nursing scheme is making a major contribution in the fight against Covid-19 on the NHS frontline.

Monday, 8th February 2021, 6:00 am

More than 100 nursing apprentices are helping in the fight against Covid-19, after graduating from the University of Sheffield.

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Many of the students directly cared for the critically ill during their work placements, providing vital support to the local healthcare workforce, despite the challenges they faced during extremely difficult times.

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More than 100 nursing apprentices are making a major contribution to the fight against Covid-19, after graduating from the University of Sheffield. Photo credit: PA

The vital roles were introduced to help build the capacity of the local nursing workforce and deliver high-quality care while supporting registered nurses focus on more complex clinical duties.

Lynne Firth, director of apprenticeships, at the University of Sheffield’s Health Sciences School, said the apprentices are making a "major contribution" to the fight against the pandemic.

She said: "This programme refused to be haltered, with local hospitals and healthcare providers continuing to make nearly 1,000 diverse work placement opportunities available to our students.

"Many students were directly caring for Covid-19 patients and to support the employers."

Previously the University of Sheffield was selected as the education provider for trainee nursing associate apprenticeships across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw in 2018. Photo credit: PA

The apprentices completed 3,000 hours of learning and more than 2,000 hours of work placements in local hospitals, GP surgeries, hospices and with community healthcare providers over the two year programme, which continued throughout the pandemic.

One of these students is Michelle Bird, who previously had 17 years service within the NHS as a support worker and a phlebotomist.

She said: "I found the apprenticeship rewarding and gained a wide range of knowledge which has given me the ability to assist caring for patients and understanding their requirements".

Previously the University of Sheffield was selected as the education provider for trainee nursing associate apprenticeships across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw in 2018, providing a progression route into graduate-level nursing many students would previously not have thought possible.

Suzanne Gillott, from Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said it had been vital to "pioneer the new role of the nursing associate " to aid the hospitals and health care providers across South Yorkshire.

She said: "The challenge of the pandemic and transferring to online learning has brought the best out of all in the partnership.

"Our Trust is really proud of the achievements of the first cohort of Nursing Associates and wish them success on their next steps of their career journey.”

There are currently another 300 nursing associates working towards their apprenticeships with the University of Sheffield, and an additional advanced clinical practitioner apprenticeship programme also planned to start later in the year.

Today marks the start of National Apprenticeship Week, which runs until 14 February. The aim of the week is to shine a light on the work being done by employers and apprentices across the country.

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