April 7, 2020 @ 10:58 by Richard Dawson
At a time when the NHS and wider health care sector is under more pressure than ever before, Education Partnership North East is investing in producing the next generation of front-line healthcare professionals.
A multi-million-pound investment to address skills gaps across the region will see a state-of-the-art ‘Health Hub’ open at Northumberland College, mirroring those already in place at Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form.
Comprising a hospital wards, treatment room and sluice with patient mannequins, a self-contained apartment to mirror a modern home care environment, mock ambulance interior and real care infant simulators, these Health Hubs ensure students gain vital skills and experience.
In 2017, more than 96 per cent of health and social care graduates across the college group progressed to employment or further study.
One student is Leah, who now works at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
She said: “I have always wanted to be a nurse and make a difference to people’s lives.
“I started off as an apprentice, which combined studying with working as a healthcare assistant on the trauma and orthopaedics ward.
“I was then offered a permanent position, assisting the nurses with discharging patients. I am proud of what I do, and healthcare is a profession I want to progress in and do for the rest of my life – I’m looking into studying a nursing degree.
The Group’s links with employers such as the NHS, Care Academy, Ashford Orthodontics, Age UK, Washington Mind and St Benedict’s Hospice, further helps students get career ready and gain real work skills.
Lance Gardner at social care provider Be Caring said: “I look at the students being put through their paces in the Health Hubs and I see ready-made healthcare professionals.
“As an employer I could take on any one of these young people and know that Be Caring is welcoming a highly-trained and motivated professional.”
Almost 90,000 health jobs are expected to be available in the region in the coming years but, following the outbreak of COVID-19, the specialist skills of health and social care professionals will be in higher demand than ever before.
Education Partnership North East CEO, Ellen Thinnesen, who is also a qualified nurse, added: “The dedication of outstanding health care professionals in the current challenge is admirable.
“I am proud that as a group of colleges we are ensuring that the workforce of the future is enhanced with individuals are trained and committed to joining this invaluable sector in a range of careers.”