United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) has been given ministerial approval to lead on the development of the first ever degree apprenticeship for the roles of physiotherapist and occupational therapist (OT).
The degree apprenticeship hopes to boost numbers of allied health professionals (which include physiotherapist and occupational therapist roles) in a bid to tackle both local and national staffing shortages. It will provide an alternative route for those wishing to become a registered healthcare professional but who want to combine their studies with on the job training.
The Trailblazer group, led by ULHT and the Lincolnshire Talent Academy, will develop a nationally recognised standard for these roles. The group will include representatives from NHS Employers, multiple NHS trusts from across the country and employer representatives from small and medium sized private organisations, in addition to the College of Occupational Therapists and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills Robert Halfon said: “Apprenticeships offer young people a ladder of opportunity to gain the vital skills they and businesses need to succeed. By putting more control in the hands of employers, we are ensuring apprenticeships are high quality and address skills shortages facing industry.
“Congratulations to the Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy Trailblazer group for gaining approval to develop their apprenticeship standard, and for playing an active role in developing the workforce of the future.”
The new degree apprenticeship will allow the apprentice to meet the standards required for professional registration and will be developed in partnership with the College of Occupational Therapists, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
ULHT, along with partners in Lincolnshire, have been running a pre-registration degree programme for physiotherapists and OTs with Sheffield Hallam University for the last 11 years. Both organisations presented the success of this partnership at an OT apprenticeship event held by the College of Occupational Therapists in London in October, providing the basis for the Trailblazer proposal.
Following this event over 70 organisations expressed their interest in being part of the roll out of this work. This led to ULHT submitting their application to develop the degree apprenticeship standard for both physiotherapist and occupational therapist roles in November, which was approved by the Department of Education this month.
Last year £4.5 million was granted to universities and colleges across England to introduce new degree apprenticeships for students starting in September 2017.
Claire Flavell, Strategic Lead for the Lincolnshire Talent Academy at ULHT said: “This is fantastic news for ULHT and we’re delighted that our proposal has been successful. As a rural region, Lincolnshire is always looking at new and innovative ways to upskill its staff and grow its own talent, and this new apprenticeship degree is just one of the ways we can open up careers in healthcare to more people.
“We’ve had a number of expressions of interest from NHS trusts across the country looking to work with us on the programme which is very encouraging. A number of universities have also expressed their interest in supporting this development.”
Anita Cooper, Clinical Lead – Therapies and Rehabilitation Medicine for ULHT said: “With a national shortage of allied health professionals we hope that this new apprenticeship degree will help to see an increased number of registered physiotherapists and OTs being trained at ULHT as well as across England.
“As well as attracting young people into the professions these apprenticeship programmes will give opportunities for staff working as support workers who have proven they can give high quality care to patients, and have the ability to meet the academic demands of the degree, but may not hold the traditional academic qualifications required to meet the entry requirements for university.”