06th March 2019

Image: West London NHS Trust.Case Study: West London NHS Trust
Developed in partnership with Healthcare Apprenticeship Standards Online and Health Education England

West London NHS Trust provides a full range of mental health, physical healthcare and community services for children, adults and older people in the region (caring for around 99,000 people each year), with over 3,300 staff – of which, there are more than 50 apprentices.

The trust knew they had several members of staff who for whatever reason hadn’t been able to progress their careers. They asked themselves ‘How do we give our staff an opportunity to develop?”. When the team started looking at the nursing degree apprenticeship (NDA), it was clear that this route would give people the opportunity to progress. Historically, supporting career progression had been a challenge due to cost – but the introduction of the apprenticeship levy released much needed apprenticeship funding.

The Trust held several recruitment events, resulting in fourteen of their existing Healthcare Assistants taking on the NDA out of seventy applicants. There was recognition that having apprentices as part of the established workforce offered numerous benefits, including shared learning from their course in the workplace, and being much more reflective of their practice. Equally because of their clinical experience, apprentices offer an added dimension to their theoretical studies at university.

The Trust’s apprenticeship programme has provided a new workforce supply solution that previously never existed, while also providing an opportunity to improve staff retention. The organisation took a view that in three-years’ time they will have a regular supply of registered nurses, who are loyal and share the Trust’s values.

The levy may have allowed West London to take on more than fourteen apprentices, however taking more may have reduced the learning quality for those involved. In the first instance they focused on how to support their apprentices throughout their journey and what infrastructure they would need to take on a larger number in the future.

With success under their belts, the Trust is now looking at apprenticeships in other professional groups and areas of the organisation. The levy enables them to grow their own workforce in ways previously unimaginable. The Trust is continuously looking for new ways to support their apprentices, and applications for this year’s NDA recently opened at the Trust.

As further recognition for their effort, one of their nursing degree apprentices, Adam Cramp recently took home the Our Health Heroes Apprenticeship of the Year award 2018, run by Skills for Health.

“For us the rationale was to utilise the expertise already inhouse, really growing our own…

“As with any other Trusts, our Trust has a shortage of registered nurses, so we are looking at various approaches to bridge the gap and have a range of supply solutions. It is important for us to make sure we are growing our own as well. We want to promote our Trust as somewhere where you can grow in your career.”

Ali Webster - Assistant Director of Workforce - West London NHS Trust

Image: HASO.Visit: haso.skillsforhealth.org.uk