Innovative blended-learning Healthcare Science training for in-post NHS staff


When did you first introduce the innovation?

Between 12 and 24 months ago

Please describe the innovation you have developed

The FdSc Healthcare Science programme is an innovation designed to enable NHS staff to successfully engage with material at a HEI level within an excellent learning environment, whilst ensuring minimal disruption to their workplace commitments. This has been achieved through a focus on work-based learning, the provision of innovative interactive lectures and quizzes, and considerable online contact through webinars, blogs etc. The innovation was, and is, currently being delivered in the following areas:

Life Sciences

  • Blood Science
  • Cellular Science
  • Genetic Science
  • Infection Science
  • Transfusion & Transplantation Science

Physiological Sciences

  • Cardiac Physiology
  • Respiratory & Sleep Physiology

What prompted you to develop this innovation?

Although Biomedical and Healthcare Science courses existed previously, these were specifically designed for standard undergraduate entry. NHS staff who wished to develop themselves and their career by gaining a degree in their relevant field would either have to complete the course part-time over many years (with block-release days most weeks, often travelling considerable distances), or take a career break to complete it full-time.

There was, therefore, significant motivation to develop training which would be specifically tailored to support NHS staff in completing their qualifications whilst remaining in-post.

In your view, what is it about this innovation that makes it different/important?

NHS staff have been able to gain a HEI qualification in an efficient and productive manner, which works with their workplace, not in conflict with it.

To what extent does your innovation make use of existing approaches, resources or technologies?

The innovation used existing UWE modules as templates for content. Existing expertise was utilised to explore options for delivery.

To what degree has this innovation led to changes in education or clinical practice?

Substantial technology enhanced learning training for academic staff has resulted in these skills being employed in a variety of environments beyond the Healthcare Sciences. NHS Blood and Transplant are aiming use the course to provide their national training requirements. This is only possible due to the innovative design of the programme.

What evidence do you have of the impact of the innovation?

Reviews of the innovative course from both the students and their NHS training officers has been highly positive. Representative examples from feedback from NHS staff on the programme at both Levels 1 & 2 are as follows:

Level 2 – Cardiac Physiology
‘I couldn’t wait to start the FdSc when it first became available and I am so pleased with how it’s gone. During the course I have met some fantastic people in both my fellow students and lecturers. Despite being the first cohort, the course for me has run smoothly since day one and any small problems that did arise were quickly sorted out. It has been enjoyable, challenging and very rewarding and I have no hesitation recommending it to others. It has enabled me to achieve things I never thought possible and given me inspiration to not only continue for a third year and obtain the BSc but I also have aspirations to continue studying after that.’

Level 1 – Infection Science
‘I’ve had a fantastic year; the workload has been challenging when coupled with work and family commitments but with a lot of hard work, I have managed to pass all my modules (so far) and have received some promising grades too. I have met some lovely people who have provided me with help and support when needed and have given me a lot of laughs as well. It was initially daunting; with a new environment to acclimatise to, new people to get to know and not knowing whether or not I was capable of achieving the required standard. However, I can genuinely say that I am 100% glad that I took up the opportunity to study at UWE. I am looking forward to Level 2 now, slightly apprehensive but with greater confidence in my abilities and I know that if I apply myself accordingly, it can be another successful year for me.’

To what degree has the innovation been disseminated in your organisation or elsewhere?

Learning and teaching skills related to the development of online materials have been disseminated internally within the university through workshops, presentations and seminars. The innovative style of delivery has been discussed with a variety of NHS partners from a diverse collection of trusts.

Please provide details of any plans you have to disseminate the innovation in the future.

Due to the highly successful delivery model of its current pathways, UWE is aiming to substantially expand this innovative approach into the following areas:

Physiological Sciences

  • Neurophysiology

Clinical Engineering

  • Rehabilitation Engineering
  • Radiation Engineering
  • Medical Engineering
  • Renal Technology