'Do my years of experience count for nothing because I lack school qualifications?'

Is the NHS in Sheffield missing out on valuable experience by insisting staff have school qualifications?

Wednesday, 20th September 2017, 9:08 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th September 2017, 9:20 pm
Lorraine Wood says her years of experience should count for more than a school certificate she failed to gain more than 40 years ago
Lorraine Wood says her years of experience should count for more than a school certificate she failed to gain more than 40 years ago

That's what one seasoned support worker, who left school 45 years ago without passing GCSE-level maths and English, claims after being turned down for numerous jobs.

Lorraine Wood spent more than a decade with Sheffield Health and Social Care as a support worker providing respite for families and carers of adults with complex needs, before leaving last year when the unit where she worked closed.

The 60-year-old from Ecclesfield has since joined the private sector, working at a residential care home, but believes she has plenty to offer the NHS.

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She has a level two NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) in social care, for which she says she had to pass a mandatory maths and English entrance exam.

But Sheffield Teaching Hospitals requires applicants to provide evidence of recognised maths and English qualifications, which it insists is vital to ensure patients' safety is not compromised.

Lorraine says she has been turned down for numerous roles within the trust as a result, and feels her skills and knowledge gained from years in the trade count for nothing.

The latest job she missed out on was as a clinical support worker providing end-of-life care - a position she said existing employees had told her she must apply for as she had 'more than enough' experience and qualifications.

"They know full well I could do that job blindfolded and I could do it well but I'm being denied due to a bit of paperwork," she said.

"I wonder how many of the people who get this very sensitive post will be able to show the compassion and empathy needed for this role."

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals used to have its own in-house maths and English tests, which Lorraine passed when applying for a previous role, but it now expects applicants to provide certificates proving they have these skills.

Mark Gwilliam, the trust's director of human resources and organisational development, said: "We appreciate that it is frustrating for Lorraine not to be successful in her most recent application to become a clinical support worker and we do recognise that Lorraine has previous healthcare experience.

"However, the requirement for the post Lorraine applied for was GCSE English and maths at grade D or above."

He added: "It is vital that our clinical support workers have an appropriate level of maths and English because they have to record data and information which is critical to patients receiving safe care."