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A group of candidates looking for work have recently completed work experience placements with North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust.

The Bridge to the Bank programme is a three week pre-employment programme that was created to help nurse cadets and health and social care students gain the required experience and training to work for the NHS as health care assistants.

And Catherine Scullion, who recently completed the programme, said it was a “life changing opportunity” to change her career path from retail into healthcare and to learn the role of a healthcare assistant. 

She said: “From having literally no healthcare experience, I now feel like I have had a lifetime worth of opportunities.”

Placements were allocated at hospitals and community settings across the Trust. There were seven students at theB2TB Cohort 5.jpg Cumberland Infirmary – six of these have been interviewed so far and offered posts.

There were six students at the West Cumberland Hospital. They are being interviewed in the next couple of weeks.

After three weeks training and a week’s worth of shadowing placement, the students are guaranteed an interview to join the Bank as Health Care Assistants.

The following departments and services at the Trust have been supporting placements:

·         Orthopaedics Maple c/d

·         Aspen

·         Paediatrics

·         Ophthalmology

·         Beech B

·         Carlisle Health Care district nurse team

·         Hilltop Heights

·         Wards 1,2,3 and 4 at WCH

·         Wigton Community Hospital

·         Cockermouth Hospital, Isel Ward

Amy Cockton, Assistant Learning Facilitator at NCIC, said: “We’ve been running Bridge to the Bank for two years now and it’s been really positive with lots of successful students gaining employment with us.

“We work alongside Carlisle College, Lakes College and local sixth forms and their Health and Social Care students and offer the programme to these students. Candidates who are selected for the programme complete three weeks of training and undertake an experience placement on a ward with the Trust, with the guarantee of an interview to join the health care assistant bank at the end.

“The Trust is committed to growing our own workforce and providing opportunities, and through programmes like this we are continuing to grow and build our future workforce from the local talent we have available to us.”

Matron Christine Musgrave said: “We have had positive feedback from the students and some have gone on to be successful in acquiring posts as health care assistants, which could then lead to additional training opportunities.

“The Bridge to the Bank gives people an opportunity to seek employment which might be difficult without experience, which is often difficult if no one gives you a chance to gain that experience. If you give a little you can often get a lot back.”

Catherine Scullion.jpgCatherine said: “It was a brilliant opportunity where I was able to solidify some of my knowledge previously learnt, and spend three weeks learning new patient facing skills; such as patient customer service (hello my name is) to learning how to provided dignified end of life care for patients and their relatives.  

“This course gave me my first insight into working for the NHS and progression to complete my care certificate. The last week of the programme, we were offered a variety of placements, mine were within Ophthalmology and Cardiology team, It was extremely enjoyable and rewarding being able to care for a variety of service users and assisting multidisciplinary teams from nurses, orthoptists, healthcare assistants, junior doctors and consultants within clinics, ward and theatre settings. One specific moment which stands out for me was being able reassure, comfort and praise a patient on how far their health has improved since having a stroke, which caused their vision to deteriorate. By being able to listen, care and spend the time with the patient affirmed to me that this is the vocation I want to be in. 

“Since completing the programme I was fortunate in being offered an interview to become a bank healthcare assistant for the trust and was delighted to find out that I was successful in gaining employment. As a Bank healthcare assistant I feel now I can build on these experiences and have the opportunity pursue my long term ambitions which is to become a midwife and advocate for women and families, whether that be at university or as an apprentice. 

“I would recommend this course to anyone wanting to pursue a career in healthcare, and just remember that it’s not too late to follow your dream or change career paths. I also hope that I can start to provide more opportunities for my two young boys and that see from my hard work they can be as ambitious as myself in their futures to come.”

The Bridge to the Bank programme is available for those aged 18 and over who are currently studying BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in HSC or CACHE Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social care.

The programme is ideal for those who have not secured a place at university and/or considering apprenticeship opportunities within the NHS. For more information on the programme contact:  Amy.cockton@ncic.nhs.uk.