Higher apprentices at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are among the first group to complete a new pilot training programme in a regional first for healthcare employers.

Sixty-eight Trainee Assistant Practitioners (TAPs) at eight healthcare providers in South Yorkshire have achieved the Healthcare Assistant Practitioner Diploma at Level 5 and will graduate next week.

The largest numbers of TAPs are based at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals. Twenty-five of the TAPs are from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Their achievements will be celebrated at a graduation ceremony on November 12th at the Holiday Inn Royal Victoria Hotel in Sheffield.

The higher apprentices, known as TAPs, have studied for 18 months, spending four days a week in the workplace and one day a week at The Sheffield College.

The higher education course has been introduced mainly by NHS employers to help them better meet the changing health needs of patients and develop a skilled workforce to support healthcare professionals.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust secured the funding for the project from Health Care England and conceived the idea for the training programme.

Karen Jessop, Deputy Chief Nurse, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are proud to have worked with The Sheffield College to develop this role, with many of our trainees now working in departments across the Trust as Assistant Practitioners and using their skills to support our teams and make a difference for patients. Congratulations to all who have completed the course.”

Barnsley General Hospital, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals, BMI Hospitals, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Trust and St Luke’s Hospice Sheffield and The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust are all involved in the scheme.

Angela Foulkes, Chief Executive and Principal of The Sheffield College, said: “I am really pleased for the TAP graduates. They have worked incredibly hard for their achievements and are a credit to both the College and their employers.”

She added: “I’m delighted that this programme is developing a healthcare workforce for the future and enabling these higher apprenticeship graduates to go further in their careers by training them in the skills their employers need.”

The TAPs support registered nurses, theatre staff and healthcare scientists to deliver patient care by taking on specific tasks and caseloads in specialist wards and clinical departments. They assess, plan, implement and evaluate care for patients under the direct supervision of a registered healthcare professional.

Their role bridges the skills gap between an experienced health care assistant and a registered nurse, and is a stepping stone to nurse training resulting in a recognised qualification and confirming the employers’ commitment to investing in their staff.

The qualification has enabled the TAPs to progress with their careers in the workplace with some going onto a full or part-time nursing or paramedic practice degrees at university.

The Sheffield College has a £321 million economic impact on the city annually and works with 1,250 employers to deliver apprenticeship programmes in a wide range of industry sectors to more than 2,600 apprentices