Plans unveiled for university’s Health Education and Innovation Quarter
Wrexham Glyndwr University has officially signed the contracts to deliver a raft of new Nursing and Allied Health Professional Courses.
Vice-Chancellor Maria Hinfelaar and Director of Finance David Elcock signed the contracts with Health Education in Wales (HEIW) this month, after receiving full confirmation of Wrexham Glyndwr’s successful funding bid.
The University has also revealed drawings of what the Health Education Innovation Quarter as part of its Campus 2025 strategy, which will be instrumental in the delivery of these eight courses which range from Adult Nursing to Paramedic Science.
Speaking after the signing of the contracts, Vice-Chancellor Maria Hinfelaar outlined the positive impact the successful tender will have for the University, healthcare in the region, and future employment opportunities for students.
She said: “This week I found myself in the privileged position of signing contracts with Health Education in Wales, the commissioning body for the provision of Allied Health and Nurse Training with Welsh universities, for a range of new programmes starting in September 2022.
“As the Vice-Chancellor of Wrexham Glyndwr University, I think I can say with confidence that these eight signatures represent one of the proudest moments in my career. They mark an era of WGU being entrusted with the responsibility to train the future workforce of the healthcare profession which is the key sector of our economy and society, as we are coming out of what has been the most challenging public health crisis in a century.
“We will have hundreds of new, fully funded places every year, for students looking for careers in healthcare across North Wales. We already offered Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, and post-registration Nursing courses for those in the profession looking for refresher training or research opportunities.
“But these new contracts will be a step-change, adding several fields which were previously unavailable in North Wales. For instance, local students will now be able to learn to become a Paramedic – such an important role in emergency situations – or specialise in areas such as Dietetics and Speech and Language Therapy.
“In the past, they would have had to go to North-West England or perhaps Cardiff to obtain such a qualification. Quite often, they would not return because placements in healthcare settings frequently lead to job offers.
“But this will now change because the pattern is that students recruited from the local area often stay local, and there will be a direct match between each offer we make to new students for a place on our suite of programmes in Nursing and Allied Health, and job prospects in primary and secondary care settings throughout our geographic area.
“In the case of Nursing, this will stretch from North-East Wales where we have our main campus in Wrexham into Flintshire and Denbighshire, with our Optic St Asaph campus as a strategic location. For all the other subjects, the reach will be North Wales in its entirety and will also include parts of Powys.
“This means that our hospitals and other care providers will have a steady influx of highly qualified professionals, with a commitment to stay in the area. This is critically important and will help to find sustainable solutions to staffing shortages that have occurred in the past.
“WGU was founded to enable individuals from all backgrounds to gain high quality education to serve our community, and has a long history of professional education. We embrace diversity, celebrating our differences and playing our part in building a highly skilled workforce in our region. We recognise character and experience alongside qualifications, and will ensure that students from a range of backgrounds in our local communities are afforded opportunities leading to healthcare careers.
“We are already working with partners in the education system to create pathways, and have established strong relationships with the health board and service providers. Many WGU health graduates are now health leaders in Wales, and will support us in delivering quality graduates for their future workforce.
“The main reason why our bid was successful, and how it stood out from other proposals, is our vision to create better health outcomes for our region. As part of our Campus 2025 Masterplan we are investing in a Health Education Innovation Quarter (HEIQ) at the heart of our main campus in Wrexham, and a sister facility at St Asaph.
“Building on recent investment in simulation equipment which current students are already using, these sites will be significantly expanded with immersive technology and will comprise clinics, communal spaces, wards, consulting rooms and an ambulance area.
“We have jointly developed and designed these plans with BCUHB and other providers where our students will go on placement and ultimately be employed. Problem-solving and critical thinking are key skills for nurses working in high-pressure, complex and challenging environments. The simulation environment will provide students with opportunities to develop, practise, rehearse and reflect in relation to clinical scenarios in a safe yet realistic environment.
“But that is not all. Inter-professional education is a fundamental cornerstone of the health care education we should provide in the 21st century. It links Nursing with the other professions such as Occupational Therapy, Physio and Paramedics and with other public service delivery such as Policing, Social Work, Sports Science and Social Care to provide seamless and well-coordinated patient care.
“Students will follow a typical ‘patient journey’ as they liaise with these different professional services, all of which are also in WGU’s programme portfolio.
“Our Health Innovation Quarter will run multi-disciplinary team sessions on site, with clinicians, lecturers, third sector organisations and students working in partnership in a brand new learning environment.
“In this post-Covid era of harnessing the best of all things digital, we will of course also install video-link technology so that it will be possible for people to participate remotely (for instance from a placement site), and recorded programme content can be accessed later on a flexible basis.
“The team cannot wait to start. We stand ready to take on the responsibility of transforming healthcare education, and thereby health outcomes, for our region.”
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