2014-03-14 16:50:58 - The next generation of health professionals is being given a helping hand across Greater Manchester by an independent provider of health and social care services.
The Greater Manchester NHS Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (GM CATS), which has been provided to local NHS patients by Care UK for the past five years, provides regular work placements to healthcare students at the University of Manchester, University of Salford and Manchester Metropolitan University. This week, the service took on its 50th student since the scheme started in 2012.
Alison Hitchen, clinical services manager at GM CATS, said the feedback they receive from students and the universities is fantastic: “Work experience is so important for students but is, according to the universities’ placement officers, very difficult to source. In my previous job with the local NHS I was responsible for student placements so when I moved to Care UK
I was keen to explore opportunities.
“It is unusual for independent healthcare companies to offer placements but Care UK was very receptive to the idea. We are conscious of the importance of investing in the future and these students are the future of the health service.
“When our placement scheme started, we just took student nurses for six-week minimum placements but such was the popularity of the placements, the scope has spread and the scheme is now open to student physiotherapists, podiatrists and, most recently, audiologists.
“Our service is perfect for students because it offers such a variety of skills. Our team includes specialists in a range of areas, including urology, ear, nose and throat, gynaecology, musculoskeletal, minor surgery, gastroenterology and endoscopy.
“We also have onsite diagnostics that use the very latest technology, including MRI, x-ray, ultrasound and CT scanning. This means that in most cases patients can see a consultant and have any diagnostic tests required in the same appointment.”
GM CATS consists of mobile clinics which travel between six sites around Greater Manchester, typically spending four or five days at each location before moving on overnight. Patients are referred by their GPs and can expect to receive quick access to the service, fewer overall appointments, quicker understanding of their condition and better overall outcomes.
Alison added: “At a time when student placements are in short supply, we are delighted to be playing our part in helping the training of the next generation of healthcare professionals. Many of the students who join us for a placement ask if they can re-join us for their final year eight-week placement, which shows how much they appreciate their experience with us.”
Several Care UK clinicians have attended clinical tutor courses, funded by GM CATS, in advance of offering students their placements.
Sophie Lawes, a podiatry student from the University of Salford, recently completed her work placement with the service. She said: “The clinicians I observed at Care UK were extremely professional, highly competent and were clearly interested in encouraging and educating students.
“I really appreciated the fact that Care UK was able to give me the opportunity to observe specialist podiatrists, physiotherapists and an orthopaedic surgeon, and to be able to appreciate their approach and contribution to lower limb musculoskeletal assessment and treatment. There was a real sense of purpose and a positive ‘can-do’ attitude.
“The placement has given me the opportunity to observe how to integrate academic research findings into evidence based, hands-on clinical podiatry assessment and treatment. I can honestly recommend a GM CATS placement to any podiatry student interested in musculoskeletal health. I have learnt so much, the team were really welcoming and they are genuinely interested in teaching students.”