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The Open University partners with Care UK to deliver Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship in UK prisons

The Open University has partnered with Care UK to deliver a Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship to Health Care Support Workers (HCSWs) who are employed across more than 40 prison and young offender establishments where healthcare services are provided by Care UK’s Health in Justice division.

The first cohort of 11 HCSWs, from HMP Isle of Wight; HMP Oakwood; HMP/YOI Swinfen Hall; HMP Dovegate; HMP Foston Hall and HMP New Hall, are due to start their studies this month, followed by another cohort in February 2020.

The apprentices will train using the OU’s unique work-based learning model, training within their prisons as well as studying at home to ensure they can grow their skills while continuing to provide the highest standards of quality and best practice.

Kate Carter, Director of Nursing at Care UK, said:

“Care UK’s Health in Justice team serve thousands of patients in 43 English prisons. This includes some of the most vulnerable people within our society. Nationally, we have an ageing prison population with increasingly complex needs, including mobility issues and dementia. In addition, HCSWs support those with addictions through rehabilitation and they educate and create care plans for those living with chronic health problems.

“The healthcare system has a shortage of nurses. We know that to best serve our patients and attract, recruit and maintain excellent staff we need to guarantee great educational and career prospects. This apprenticeship will let our colleagues continue to provide invaluable services, while training to take on further clinical roles in what is possibly one of the most interesting healthcare areas.”

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

“We are thrilled to be able to support Care UK in the delivery of our Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship, as we nurture and train HCSWs to improve their skillset and continue their work as vital team members to the health service.”

Having delivered nursing education since 2002 and with more than 15 years’ experience in providing its degree apprenticeship programmes, the OU nursing courses have a high student retention rate of 91% and are rated in the top 6% of approved nursing education providers by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Taking on average two years and four months to complete, the course is a mixture of theory and practice, which is taught through work-based and online tutor-supported learning.

For further information about the Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship, please visit

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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