Thames Valley Nurse Cadets programme has been shortlisted for the Pilot Project of the Year award in the HSJ Value Awards. The programme is a collaboration of four NHS trusts and three higher education institutions with the ambition to grow the next generation of healthcare professionals. It gives young people aged 16-19 years old their first step into working in a healthcare setting with a clear path to further career development.

Thames Valley Nurse Cadets logoCurrent partners in the programme are Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, The Hazeley Academy, Milton Keynes University Hospitals Foundation Trust, Milton Keynes College, Bucks Healthcare Trust and Bucks Community College. The pilot has been funded by Health Education England.

In their awards entry the partners said:

“The project aims to provide a pipeline for our local workforce. Whilst the project has just completed its pilot year, the ambition is for this to be expanded both geographically and to different healthcare settings to ensure that we are meeting the workforce demand within the local population.”

At Oxford Health the cadets join the trust on a Band 2 senior healthcare worker apprenticeship programme, which consists of four days of working and one day of studying per week.

After a two-year course, the cadet can choose to become a Band 3 health care assistant, proceed to a further two-year nursing associate training or move on to study for a degree to qualify as a registered nurse. Every cadet who completes the programme is guaranteed an interview for a healthcare assistant role – and an interview at a university if they wish to continue with their studies towards nursing registration.

Chief Nurse Marie Crofts (picture above left) from Oxford Health said:

“I am delighted the Nurse Cadets programme has been recognised in the HSJ Value Awards. It has been so exciting to lead this programme. It allows us to engage young people, offering an entry route to nursing while utilising the apprenticeship programmes to create clear routes for progression and a career in a wonderful profession. This is an exciting opportunity for the trust to be supporting and shaping our future NHS workforce.

“Above all I’d like to commend our first 16 nurse cadets. They have taken their first steps into nursing during a year that’s been like no other in my over 30 years of nursing! They have shown tremendous commitment and enthusiasm; they have become truly valued members of our staff.”

Oxford Health’s Nurse Cadets project manager Sophie Grimshaw (above right) said:

“I am delighted that the Nurse Cadet Project has been shortlisted for the HSJ Value Award. The last year has been extremely challenging for everybody and to get this recognition will mean so much to everyone involved. Within Oxford Health, we have seen 16 cadets deployed across a number of clinical settings, actively contributing to excellent patient care. I would personally like to take this opportunity to thank my clinical colleagues and our Learning & Development department for their support. What has been achieved during this time is phenomenal.

“Finally, none of this would have been possible without the hard work and professionalism of the young people taking part in the programme. Even if we don’t go on to win the award, to be shortlisted is a fantastic achievement!”

HSJ editor Alastair McLellan comments:

“We would like to congratulate Thames Valley Nurse Cadets on being shortlisted in the HSJ Value Pilot Project of the Year category for the HSJ Value Awards 2021. This year’s finalists have not only contributed to the continued fight against the Covid-19 pandemic within the NHS but have also been exceptionally dedicated to enhancing healthcare across the UK. We are honoured to be recognising and celebrating their outstanding work after what is, no doubt, the most challenging year in the history of the NHS. We are looking forward to welcoming them to the ceremony in June.”

The winners will be selected following a rigorous, second stage of judging ahead of the HSJ Value Awards 2021 awards ceremony. Held at Manchester Central at the end of June, the evening will provide a great opportunity for influential figures to unite and celebrate the achievements of their industry peers. The awards evening is expected to be attended by leaders and professionals from within the NHS.

The full list of finalists for the 2021 HSJ Value Awards can be found on HSJ Value Awards website.