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New occupational therapist apprenticeship programme to be launched in UK

Tuesday 7th February 2017
A new occupational therapist apprenticeship programme is set to be launched in the UK. Image: Dean Drobot via iStock
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A new apprenticeship programme designed to train more occupational therapists is being launched in the UK in a bid to prevent staff shortages in this field from worsening in the future.

The United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) is leading the development of the training programme as part of a trailblazer group which also features the Lincolnshire Talent Academy, NHS representatives, small business employers and expert bodies including the College of Occupational Therapists (COT).

At the same time as the launch of the occupational therapy programme, an apprenticeship scheme for physiotherapy is also being established, as health authorities begin to respond to the staffing crisis faced in many vital areas of the UK's healthcare system.

Traditionally, occupational therapists and physiotherapists have been required to complete a university degree before they can work in their chosen field, but the new apprenticeship programme will provide them with an alternative route to their career, by allowing them to study while receiving on-the-job training, which will serve as valuable work experience.

Robert Halfon, the UK's minister of state for apprenticeships and skills, has given his approval for the creation of the new training programmes to go ahead. He explained that he believes giving more control to both employers and students about the way that they want to work will lead to significant benefits for the country's healthcare in the long term.

Anita Cooper, clinical lead for therapies and rehabilitation medicine at ULHT, commented: "With a national shortage of allied health professionals, we hope that this new degree apprenticeship will help to see an increased number of registered physiotherapists and occupational therapists being trained."

Dr Jo Watson, assistant director of education and research at the COT, added: "The College of Occupational Therapists is delighted to learn that the bid to develop the degree level apprenticeship standard for occupational therapy has received ministerial approval."

Written by Alex Franklin Stortford

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