NHS jobs boost for East of England

UP to 700 new health jobs could be created in the region to help boost the local economy under radical new plans.

Lizzie Parry

UP to 700 new health jobs could be created in the region to help boost the local economy under radical new plans.

NHS East of England, which is already one of the region's largest employers, yesterday revealed a new package of measures to address the current economic downturn.

Health bosses have said they plan to provide between 500 and 700 new apprenticeships across the region

There will be over 100 different types of schemes on offer including apprenticeships for porters, lab technicians, catering staff and heating engineers.

Stephen Welfare, director of workforce at the strategic health authority, said: “Additional NHS funded apprenticeship places will create job opportunities in the region.

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“We are also looking at how we can expand graduate trainee programmes and talking to local NHS organisations to see if we can introduce guaranteed employment schemes for newly qualified staff in some disciplines.

“We have also guaranteed that every penny of the �350million a year we get for education and training is spent on education and training in this current climate.”

The new schemes will be provided by local healthcare providers and also small to medium local enterprises that work in partnership with the NHS.

The first 20 apprenticeships have already started with a continual flow of the new vacancies being rolled out in the coming months.

A spokeswoman for NHS East of England said people could find the new jobs advertised in the usual way, via their local job centre plus, with vacancies arising where the demand is highest.

Sir Neil McKay, NHS East of England chief executive, said the plans show how healthcare providers can play an active role in improving the local economic outlook.

He said: “We are a vital and vibrant part of the local communities we serve and as such we believe we have a role to play in offering support where we can.

“This plan seeks to ensure that we play our full part as economic partners as well as health and healthcare providers.”

The announcement comes following the Prime Minister's visit to Ipswich on Thursday, when he praised apprenticeships as the way to help Britain out of the economic slump.

Gordon Brown was in Suffolk to launch the federated apprenticeship scheme which will offer young adults employed by small businesses in the East of England the chance to achieve a qualification in information communication technology.

Mr Brown said: “Apprenticeships bring so many benefits to everyone involved. They are an effective way for businesses to obtain the right skills to get them through the economic downturn and offer a handpicked, motivated workforce.”

Further moves planned to help stimulate the local economy include the NHS supporting local suppliers where possible and a move to pay invoices to small and medium sized companies with 10 days of receipt rather than the current 30 day policy.

Karen Livingstone, NHS East of England director of strategic partnerships, said: “As business activity in the region continues to come under pressure, increasing strain upon the region's population is inevitable.

“To help the East of England, we are launching a two pronged attack.

“We will support local residents affected by the downturn by ensuring the necessary health services are available closer to home and we will also implement measures to help directly boost the local economy where possible.”