Three healthcare education providers have joined forces to boost the number of nurses and other NHS professionals in South West London. Kingston University, St George’s Hospital Medical School and Croydon College have signed a progression agreement to provide training opportunities for local people to enter allied health professions such as physiotherapy, radiography and occupational therapy. The partners hope that by providing additional support to ease the transition between college courses and university, students from a variety of backgrounds who do not have the academic qualifications to enter standard healthcare education programmes will be attracted into these professions.
The Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences, run jointly by the University and St George’s Hospital Medical School, sealed a similar deal with Merton College last year. Deputy Dean and Head of Nursing Kath Start said this latest project would help Kingston meet its commitment to increase the number of students from under-represented groups in higher education. “Fifteen per cent of this year’s nursing students have been recruited via our collaborations with further education colleges and, by 2010, we anticipate that figure will rise to 40 per cent. We are extremely proud of the fact that almost 90 per cent of our nursing students find employment in the local area within six months of becoming fully qualified. Through these access programmes at Merton and now Croydon, we’re developing the workforce in South West London to serve its residents,” Mrs Start said.
As part of the initiative, Croydon College students will be invited to the university to try out equipment in its clinical skills’ laboratories and meet staff. “With national enrolment in nursing and the allied health professions expected to grow by 40 per cent during the next two years, this link up will allow great strides to be taken in reaching NHS targets for healthcare workforce development,” Deputy Principal of Croydon College Tony Woods said.
Joan Fletcher, Director of Education for the South West London Strategic Health Authority, added that access programmes were crucial for developing employment opportunities in the region. “The healthcare sector is a major employer in South West London so this project will help provide a steady stream of nurses and other key workers,” she said. “Some people don’t consider going to university because they don’t have the academic qualifications but they are ignoring an excellent opportunity to have a rewarding career right on their doorstep,” she said. “Access programmes are the perfect way to convince students they have a great deal to offer.”