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The disciplines identified for support are prosthetics and orthotics, therapeutic radiography, podiatry, and orthoptics.

The HEFCE-funded Strategic Interventions in Health Education Disciplines programme starts this spring, and will enable a range of activities to help ensure the sustainability of higher education courses in these areas.

The interventions include a national marketing and communications campaign to encourage students to apply, and employing outreach and communications officers to coordinate an outreach network and share best practice.

There will also be a ‘challenge fund’, offering higher education providers with finance for innovative approaches to delivering or recruiting to their courses.

The programme will also facilitate work-shadowing facilities specifically in orthoptics, and fund a co-ordinator to develop work placements and apprenticeships in prosthetics and orthotics.

The College of Podiatry is a key partner in the programme, and will develop, deliver and manage the communications and marketing campaign and coordinate the outreach network.

The College of Podiatry's Chief Executive, Steve Jamieson, commented:

‘I’m delighted that we will be working closely with colleagues at HEFCE and at our partner organisations to develop and deliver this innovative and significant programme. Raising awareness and building understanding of these vital health disciplines is critical if we are to continue to attract students and so ensure the future health skills mix required to meet the needs of patients.’

Ed Hughes, Head of Health and Medicine at HEFCE, said:

‘HEFCE is very pleased to be able to provide a range of support for higher education in these small and specialist disciplines, which will help maintain the pipeline of healthcare professionals in these areas to meet the future needs of students, healthcare providers and patients.’

Notes

  1. The training of doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals is carried out as a partnership between HEFCE and the Department for Education, Health Education England and the Department of Health, higher education institutions and placement providers.
  2. The majority of nursing, midwifery and allied health pre-registration courses moved into the higher education funding system from 2017-18.
  3. As a result of the transfer of funding responsibility, HEFCE had an allocated budget of £32 million to support these courses in 2017-18 for the first entry cohort of students under the new finance arrangements. The funding provided support across the full range of nursing, midwifery and allied health disciplines. For more information see HEFCE Circular letter 06/2017.
  4. As part of this work, in 2017 HEFCE identified a group of disciplines as being both small and specialist, and vulnerable, whose sustainability this programme is intended to address. HEFCE worked with sector bodies and the professional bodies for these disciplines to develop the programme.
  5. The programme aims to:
    1. Increase awareness of allied health disciplines.
    2. Increase understanding of and demand for small specialist allied health disciplines.
    3. Strengthen and diversify the delivery of the small and specialist disciplines covered by this initiative.
    4. Develop a better understanding of the mature student market for nursing, midwifery and allied health.
  6. The programme is expected to run for three years, starting in 2017-18, with a budget of £1 million per year. It will be overseen by a board which includes the relevant professional bodies, Health Education England, the Council of Deans of Health and Universities UK.
  7. The College of Podiatry will develop, deliver and manage key workstreams of the SIHED programme. The College of Podiatry is the academic authority for podiatry in the UK, and an independent charity dedicated to foot health research, education and public awareness. The College of Podiatry’s London office will host three new fixed-term roles – the SIHED Programme Manager, Programme Support Officer (0.5 full-time equivalent (FTE)) and the Podiatry Outreach and Communications Officer (0.5 FTE). Five outreach and communications officers (3 FTE), will be based at higher education institutions or at the professional bodies of the allied health professional partners, and will work to share and develop best practice across the network. For more information see https://www.scpod.org/sihed/.
  8. For more information on the activities in the programme see www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/healthcare/sihed/.
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