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The Open University and NHS in partnership to boost nursing numbers on the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight (IOW) NHS Trust and The Open University are collaborating to deliver a three-year apprenticeship programme with investment of over £2m* from the Trust’s Apprenticeship Levy, to increase the number of registered nurses and nursing associates on the island. With 120 nursing vacancies on the island, the programme will widen access and boost the skills shortage by providing crucial training and employment.

The OU will be the sole provider in the delivery of the apprenticeship-standard qualification and will help the IOW NHS Trust to develop their workforce and keep skills local. The OU has strong credentials for delivery in England working collaboratively with employers and achieving high rates of completion (92%) by staff at other NHS Trusts. The OU trains more health and social care staff than any other education provider and works in partnership with 183 healthcare employers.

Dr Sally Boyle, Head of School for Health Wellbeing & Social Care at The Open University said:

“OU nursing students and apprentices are often recruited locally, with established roots in the community and generally remain with their local hospitals once they have qualified as nurses. The apprenticeship programme is vital to the retention and expansion of the nursing workforce on the island, and we are thrilled to be able to support the Isle of Wight NHS Trust in delivering this training.”

Alice Webster, Director of Nursing, Midwifery, AHPs & Community Service for the IOW NHS Trust said:

“We are really delighted to be working in partnership with The Open University to develop ways to enable us to think about how we develop our workforce and particularly the nursing profession. There has been a reduction in newly qualified nurses employed over the last three years and significant reduction in Adult/Mental Health Students in training who are based on the Isle of Wight. The Trust has been dealing with a significant nursing workforce challenge, with currently 120 full-time equivalent (FTE) registered nurse vacancies.

After holding many career fairs and answering enquiries from existing staff we knew that our nursing workforce solution was on the Island, but barriers such as cost and a lack of bursary made attending university prohibitive. We have developed a five-year Nursing Workforce Strategy that incorporates the recruitment to both Registered Nurse and the Nursing Associate Apprenticeships with the OU for the island population and beyond.”

The OU unlocks the career path of nursing to all, with almost a third (29%) of OU apprentices coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. The first cohort of 15 registered nursing degree apprentices started their studies in September 2018, with 12 trainee nursing associates having joined the IOW NHS workforce in February 2019. The national application process was highly praised by Health Education England (HEE), with over 200 applications from the IOW NHS recruitment site including current NHS employees, college and sixth-form leavers and the wider community.

*The Open University has been sole awarded a contract with the Isle of Wight NHS Trust. This represents £2,268,000 in total, with the Trust additionally reserving the right, subject to performance to extend the contract to a period of three years.

Find out more

For further information on applying for the next group of nursing associates and registered nursing apprenticeships

About Author

Hannah is part of the Media Relations Team at The Open University, working with the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies. With experience both agency and in-house, Hannah has worked on campaigns for a number of large corporate companies and brands, including RBS, NatWest, Travelodge, Audible, AA and the Royal Academy of Dance. She has completed a Masters in Publishing Studies from Oxford Brookes and is currently studying towards a DipHE in Computer, IT and Design. In her free time she enjoys photography, reading and going to the theatre.

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