Case study

University of Cumbria fostering relationships with NHS partners to address demand and support delivery

24 Feb 2023

The University of Cumbria’s (UoC) mission is to transform lives and livelihoods, now and for future generations, and to work with partners to address the demand for and support the delivery of higher-level nursing skills to England’s north west region and beyond.

The Covid-19 crisis has thrown a spotlight on the work of essential key public services staff – particularly those in medicine, nursing, teaching, allied health professions, social work and policing. And as the anchor institution for Cumbria, UoC plays a crucial role in educating and developing the key workers of tomorrow, including nurses.

Close working relationships with its local NHS partners are crucial to enabling Cumbria's nursing students to engage in appropriate clinical placements. The university develops and maintain these strong partnerships in a number of ways.

Bi-monthly strategic partnership engagement meetings: heads of practice learning and partnership engagement and student recruitment and portfolio development meet with trust strategic leads (nursing/allied health professional/education). This ensures robust, planned communication.

Discussions include:

  • Planned actions in relation to workforce output from UoC including apprenticeship provision, workforce requirements from the NHS, CPD and research activities.
  • Updates on organisational priorities, challenges and opportunities
  • Feedback from and coordination of any required actions from the practice placement groups.
  • Placement issues – planning, pressures, potential expansion, fitness to practice and admission to programme issues as required.
  • Exploring new ideas of working together, joint posts and new education/practice developments as required.

Monthly placement partnership meetings – all practice education facilitators (PEFs) and educators from all placement providers including NHS; primary and social care and private independent voluntary organisations (PIVOs) are invited to this discussion forum. Developing these relationships has led to some increases in placement offers with local Trusts (adult, child, mental health).

New virtual placement opportunity through partnership work with other north west higher education institutions and social and primary care on Health Education England funded life journey placement project pilot.

Trust governors – UoC strategically aligned with its partners to position UoC senior leaders in health as governors in our key NHS Trusts, to facilitate a coordinated engagement of agendas.

Collaborative working and teaching with practice education facilitators to prepare students for placement and trust induction/s.

Nursing programme teams meet weekly with PEFs to discuss placement issues and potential expansion – this is then shared with senior leads in the institute to enable further discussion with trust executive leadership.