Cherish Otoo is one of the first group of nurse apprentices recruited by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. She is soon to finish her four-year course, to qualify as a registered nurse. Here she talks about the innovative course at Royal Lancaster Infirmary and how the New Hospitals Programme can help boost the recruitment and retention of nursing staff.
It is a programme offered by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (opens in new window) in conjunction with the University of Cumbria (opens in new window), as part of a drive to address the national shortage of nurses.
Aimed at existing hospital employees wishing to pursue a registered nurse qualification, it is a ‘hands on’ role in which candidates spend four days working in wards and departments a week. Plus, one day of academic study, fully funded by the Trust.
In my previous clerical role at the hospital, booking operating theatres, I’d worked closely with the theatre team. I was made to feel so welcome as I expanded my training further.
My first placement was in Trauma and Orthopaedics, then Accident and Emergency, followed by the Acute Frailty Unit. I then worked in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) during the pandemic, and I am finishing off with a placement in the Acute Medical Unit.
Working in ICU at the height of the pandemic has to be an absolute highlight, even though it was an incredibly difficult and worrying time. The management and leadership of the unit was outstanding, and I was incredibly proud to see the excellent care taking place, despite the huge pressures and patient numbers.
When I was working in theatre booking, I was aware of the NHS nursing and ODP (Operating Department Practitioner) shortages. Even then sometimes sessions had to be cancelled due to a lack of appropriate staff, causing delays for patients waiting for surgery.
It’s a problem across the NHS, and initiatives like the nurse apprentice programme will really help. It would also be a huge asset to have new hospital buildings designed around excellent patient care, as well as even better training and educational facilities.
Everyone who works at Royal Lancaster Infirmary knows the limitations of the site and the impact that can have on delivering care. As nurses we want to do the very best for our patients and already have much to be proud of. Better designed, attractive new buildings would make a big difference.
Jane Kenny, Lead Nurse for the New Hospitals Programme in Lancashire and South Cumbria commented on Cherish’s story:
Recruiting and retaining the right workforce is essential to ensure our hospitals have a secure future. We want to create the right buildings with the very best equipment and training facilities, which will allow everyone who works for the local NHS now and in the future to flourish and make the most of the opportunities to develop their careers and stretch their ambitions.
While Cherish has received excellent training in the departments she has worked in at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, we know that the standard of the buildings on site is hampering the way care is currently delivered and cannot be fixed due to the constraints of the current hospital layout. Better facilities would make a huge difference to the ability of nurses like Cherish to do their jobs more effectively and provide the very best standards of patient care.
For example, the Emergency Department lacks space and flexibility, and the layout of the resus bay does not provide the space required for patient cubicles which comply with modern standards. Similarly, wards across the hospital are too small and cannot be modified to comply with enhanced requirements in terms of washing and toilet facilities. The current hospital theatres are in a poor location and the air handling equipment installed there is at the end of its lifespan.
Creating new purpose-built facilities with the best possible environment and equipment, designed around both current and future needs, is the best possible way we can invest in creating a sustainable local NHS which encourages talent and ability and puts the best patient care at the heart of everything we do.”
Author: Cherish Otoo, Apprentice nurse from University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.
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