The University of Chester, in partnership with Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (MCHFT,) has been named a winner at this year’s 2017 Student Nursing Times Awards.

The collaboration won the Return to Practice Course of the Year category, as a result of the salaried training scheme delivered at the Leighton Hospital Campus in Crewe.

This project was led by senior lecturer in the University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care Chris Barker and head of nursing and healthcare professions at Mid Cheshire Hospitals Sue Hamman.

As a significant proportion of nurses and midwives approach retirement age, the UK faces a nursing shortage. This category looked at how Return to Practice courses are an essential way of bringing nurses back into the workforce, but adult learners or those who have been out of the profession and practice for a while need support to refresh and update their knowledge and skills. Judges looked for a course that will help smooth nurses’ or midwives’ route back into their profession and help them quickly and easily get up to speed with modern practice, however long they have been away.

The University and Mid Cheshire Hospitals, which manages Leighton Hospital in Crewe, Victoria Infirmary in Northwich, and Elmhurst Intermediate Care Centre in Winsford, worked together to develop a flexible, innovative and supportive course to bring experienced nurses back to the profession.

The pilot course has achieved a 100% success rate, with all the students completing and returning to clinical practice. The course has received such positive feedback and results that funding has been granted for another two cohorts. The course is led by Chris Barker.

The Student Nursing Times Awards are a perfect opportunity to support the whole student nursing profession and to celebrate the achievements of the student nurses shaping the future of nursing. They celebrate the very best in nurse education, recognise and reward brilliant educational establishments and honour those who are committed to developing new nursing talent as mentors, lecturers and providers of placements. The awards also pay tribute to students who have demonstrated the academic achievement, clinical prowess and personal qualities that will make them brilliant nurses.

Executive dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Care at the University of Chester Professor Annette McIntosh-Scott said: “This was an excellent result - to win the award against such a strong field was a great achievement and testament to all the hard work put in by all involved in this partnership initiative.”

Chief executive of Mid Cheshire Hospitals Tracy Bullock said: “We are very proud of winning this award. It’s a reflection of all the hard work that has gone into our Return to Practice programme, which truly embraces the needs of former nurses so that they can return to a career in nursing.

“Thanks to the success of the programme we will be launching a new cohort in September and we’d be happy to discuss opportunities with anyone who may be interested in putting their invaluable skills and experience back into practice.”

In September 2017, the University and Mid Cheshire Hospitals will welcome a new cohort of Return to Practice Nurses to Leighton Hospital. Former nurses looking to get back into the profession can come along to the University of Chester Open day at the Riverside Campus on Saturday, June 3 and speak to Chris or contact Audrey Butterworth, HR assistant, on 01270 273712 or for further information.