Showcasing apprenticeship opportunities

This National Apprenticeship week (4 to 8 March), the physiotherapy team at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust is demonstrating the valuable contribution two apprentices are making to meeting local priorities and the commitments of the NHS long term plan.

Apprentices Danielle De Liefde and Nicola Cole

Physiotherapy support workers Danielle De Liefde and Nicola Cole are undertaking the level 5 assistant practitioner apprenticeship, a two-year scheme involving both work-based and off-the-job learning that leads to a level 5 foundation degree. It will equip them with a range of specialist knowledge and skills that will enable them to work with patients presenting with more routine and non-complex problems.

The support workers’ appointments and development are part of the East Sussex physiotherapy team’s innovative response to patient need and service demand in the women’s and men’s health service, particularly in providing post-natal physiotherapy for women who experience incontinence following childbirth.

Free up the physios

Jules Hall, clinical and operational outpatient physiotherapy lead, said: ‘The support workers complement our existing team and - critically - free up the physiotherapists to see more patients whose needs can only be met by the knowledge and skills of a registered practitioner. This creative approach to service development ensures our patients see the right clinician with the right knowledge and skill at the right time in their pathway.

'Crucially for women post-childbirth this is as soon as any issues with continence are identified. Expectant mothers can be reassured that improved access to physiotherapy should they need it following childbirth is firmly in the plans of our local physiotherapy service.’

She added: ‘Our two apprentices are highly motivated and organised individuals. They have already transformed the referral pathway for post-natal women with complications of delivery, and ensure that these women are receiving important information and advice before they go home as well as booking the important first appointment within six weeks.

Correct pathway

'They help to screen patients on the ward, identifying urgent cases and ensuring they are on the correct pathway. They are able to teach during outpatient classes and check on patients’ progress independently or by telephone reviews.’
To learn more about the apprenticeship schemes that are suitable to develop physiotherapy support workers, look at the physio pathway on the HASO website or contact CSP professional adviser Claire Fordham by email at


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