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Good news from the East

New graduates talk to Matthew Limb about the ground-breaking initiative that helped them into employment.

Jenny Craigie is making the most of a one-year fixed contract working in paediatrics, thanks to the graduate jobs incentive scheme run by East of England regional health authority.

‘I think the scheme is excellent and if it hadn’t come around I don’t know if I’d have a physio job now,’ she tells Frontline. ‘I’m very grateful for it.’

After graduating in July last year Ms Craigie managed to get part-time work, as a healthcare assistant and with the ambulance service driving patient transport vehicles.

‘I enjoyed it but it wasn’t what I was trained to do,’ she says. ‘I was out of a physio job for about a year.’

Since her appointment on the scheme she has been based in Herts and Essex hospital and has worked at different sites across  west Essex.

She organised orthotic clinics for children with special needs and also helped to run hydrotherapy sessions at St Margaret’s hospital, Epping.

‘It’s quite unusual for new graduates to do paediatrics but there are opportunities you wouldn’t normally get from a traditional rotation.

‘There’s been excellent supervision and learning opportunities. The therapists you work with understand that it’s only a one-year contract and give you as much support as they can.’

Ms Craigie also played a big part in organising a ‘childrens’ olympics’ during the summer which gave wheelchair users the opportunity to learn new skills.

BIG ASSET

Julie Maybury, who manages the paediatric integrated special needs team for West Essex primary care trust, says: ‘Jenny arranged for a paralympic athlete to come in and contacted the press. She also did a gymnastic session with children using ribbons.’

Ms Maybury says Ms Craigie’s contribution has been a big asset, justifying the PCT’s decision to apply to the SHA for the one-year post.

‘Having her in the team has enabled the other team members to do a bit of service development, clear waiting lists and respond to parents and children.

‘She has been working each week in one school with children with quite severe disability so that has meant an enhanced service for that group. It’s certainly benefited us and I think she has got an awful lot out of it as well.’

IDEAL OPPORTUNITY

Another student, Toni Sturgeon, applied to join the jobs scheme after graduating last July from the University of East Anglia.

Although she had not been without a job for long, she had only been able to find bank work. Her 12-month post is in musculoskeletal outpatients.  ‘It’s fantastic, I’m really enjoying it,’ she says. ‘I already had an idea of where I wanted my career to go and I particularly enjoy outpatients so it’s an ideal opportunity for me.’

Sheila Crowley, therapies rotation manager based at Norwich County hospital (part of NHS Norfolk), said: ‘We bid to the SHA for funds and got three posts funded for one year to band 4 – we made up the difference to band 5.’

SIGNIFICANT IMPACT

All three postholders are rotating to musculoskeletal units in the community.

Ms Crowley says: ‘As part of our bid we had to say what impact having these new graduates would make to our service. They’ve all made a significant impact and have been able to help with our 18-week targets.

‘They’re all very enthusiastic, very positive, and we’ve made sure they’ve had training as well as patient experience.’

Ms Crowley says the incentive scheme is benefiting both employer and employee.

Jane Nicklin, professional adviser for the allied health professions at NHS East of England, said she found it ‘inspiring’ talking to students on the scheme: ‘We have a fantastic workforce for the future with plenty of potential for leadership among this cohort of graduates.’

Ms Sturgeon says: ‘I think the jobs situation has improved dramatically with schemes like this.

I know this time last year when I was thinking about graduating it was really quite worrying, but now a lot of my peers I know have got jobs, which is fantastic.’

Claire Sullivan, CSP employment relations and unions services assistant director, said the scheme offered great opportunities to graduates who otherwise might still have been unable to find jobs. It was proving beneficial to both postholders and employers, she said.

‘While the CSP is encouraged to see the position for graduates improving, we don’t underestimate the size of the continuing problem for many,’ Ms Sullivan added. ‘We would encourage other England SHAs to consider similar initiatives if they haven’t done so already’

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