04th June 2015
Image: Bridging programme.
The full progress report and executive summary
can be downloaded here: (Executive Summary - Full Report)

Skills for Health has published ‘Crossing the Bridge’, a progress report on its unique Bridging Programme. The in-depth report looks at how the programme was designed and put in place in 2014–15 and sets out recommendations and a plan of action for the year ahead, intended to fulfil the expectations of more than 200 healthcare employers who have expressed their support for the programme so far. The report also outlines how Skills for Health intends to bring Bridging Programme partnerships together.

The aim of the Skills for Health Bridging Programme is to establish an entitlement for healthcare support workers, to have their learning achievements recognised as valid for meeting entry requirements to pre-registration nursing and other health professional education programmes at university.

The Bridging Programme was introduced in autumn 2014 and develops the study skills that vocational healthcare learners need to progress and succeed in Higher Education. A series of reports published between 2012 and 2014 - most recently, Shaping Care in March 2015 - said that action must be taken to bring workers in healthcare and social care into the health professional workforce – particularly into nursing.

The Skills for Health Bridging Programme will encourage capable and motivated healthcare support workers to ‘go further’ – and cross that bridge into health professional education. 

The progress report concentrates on three key areas:

  • The rationale for, aims of and design and development of the programme
  • Initial implementation and impact
  • Summary of findings and recommendations and a plan of action for 2015-16. 

Skills for Health will provide focused advice and support to help employers, universities, employer/FE providers and HEE LETBs to put the Bridging Programme in place, including:

  • Mapping emerging partnerships across England to identify where there are concentrations of interest, as well as gaps.
  • Working with key LETB contacts to ensure they are up to date with Bridging Programme developments and provide support and advice to them and to Bridging Programme partnerships in each LETB area.
  • Providing a planning tool for employers and others to use to self-assess their readiness for implementing the Bridging Programme. This tool will help Skills for Health identify exactly what support a partnership needs - and provide valuable information for monitoring progress and sharing successful practice across England.
  • Providing webinars – open to all healthcare and social care employers and to specific partnerships - on the information and support they may need.
  • Focussing on those universities willing in principle to accept a combination of a level 3 vocational qualification and the Level 3 Certificate in Bridging Skills for Higher Education (plus if relevant, formal recognition of prior learning) as meeting minimum entry requirements for health professional education programmes.
  • Providing guidance to awarding organisations on devising benchmark assessments for the Bridging Programme qualification, providing support through the Skills for Health qualifications approval process and contributing to standardisation activities across awarding organisations. 
  • Sharing case studies – stories about the Bridging Programme and how others are implementing it. We will feed subjects for discussion into our My Health Skills discussion group to seek input and ideas from a wide range of practitioners.

Implementers of the Bridging Programme will inevitably encounter many of the obstacles to progression for the healthcare support workforce that are so consistently identified in reports. The report tackles some of the risks that may be encountered and how these will be addressed.

Crossing the Bridge (Executive Summary - Full Report) is intended to drive the actions needed to help Skills for Health reach their aim - of having at least one Bridging Programme partnership established in each HEE LETB area by March 2016.