Teesside University

BMI Healthcare, part of Circle Health Group, has extended its pioneering collaboration with Teesside University (@TeessideUni) by providing a full career progression pathway for staff now spanning over 20 different qualifications. It means the organisation can offer school leavers a route from ward to board through unparalleled professional development opportunities after the partnership more than tripled in size in less than five years.

The collaboration with the University’s School of Health and Life Sciences, which began in 2016, is an outcome of the organisation’s ‘grow our own’ philosophy and its requirement for programmes to be appropriately accredited, inclusive and people-centred. What started out as six accredited staff training modules leading to academic qualifications will grow to 14 and involvement in seven apprenticeships from September, and Jenny McKnight, Head of Talent and People Development at Circle Health Group, said she had no hesitation in extending the strategic training partnership with Teesside University.

“We originally approached the University’s School of Health and Life Sciences as a partner as it is renowned for responding to the needs of the employer – and that reputation has been borne out over the past five years working with them,” Jenny explained. “Teesside has provided a quality assurance process, audited our learning venues, delivered the programmes, produced online learning materials, and generally really listened and responded to what we need. The team has demonstrated a real commitment to the partnership and been flexible, adaptable and forward-thinking throughout – especially in terms of the approach to block-delivery initially and, pre-Covid, travelling to and from our sites to deliver training.”

The pandemic has seen a shift from face-to-face to online delivery, which BMI Healthcare has “really valued in terms of flexibility”, Jenny said. This has meant that for online sessions BMI Healthcare colleagues have benefited from learning together with other organisations in the new virtual setting. “Our overarching aim, aligned to the NHS’ Facing the Facts, Sharing the Future workforce development strategy to 2027, is to address skills shortages, bring new skills into hospitals and help recruit to ‘hard-to-fill’ roles or areas where there is a high turnover,” she revealed. “We also wanted to present an opportunity for current staff, motivating and supporting them in the development of a career within BMI Healthcare. The approach we have taken allows for other staff to mentor and supervise apprentices, in turn enhancing their own management skills and career development.”

The Teesside University awards have supported BMI Healthcare’s commitment to individually-focused personal development, creating a supply of home-grown practitioners ready for the future. This effectively allows an individual to be recruited from school and progress from apprentice to director. “We have found Teesside University staff to be extremely helpful and inventive in their approach to what we wanted to deliver,” Jenny said. “As a result, we are making huge progress against our organisational people development targets, building momentum from the foundation of our career escalator.”

Linda Nelson, Associate Dean for Enterprise and Business Engagement in the University’s School of Health and Life Sciences, added:

“For us, this depth of partnership working with an independent organisation was new – as was working with a higher education provider for BMI Healthcare – but it has been a huge success, paving the way for expansion. Apprenticeships is a real growth area for the School of Health and Life Sciences. Numbers are up from 235 to 360 this year alone, and we now have around 700 apprentices in the School overall. The value is that apprentices can use real-life examples from the workplace to enhance their own learning, this giving real-time benefits to employers.”

The full of list of BMI Healthcare-Teesside University provision is:


BSc (Hons) Operating Department Practitioner

BSc (Hons) Registered Nurse

BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy

BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Radiography

FdSc Assistant Practitioner

FdSc Nursing Associate

MSc Global Leadership (Senior Leader Degree Apprenticeship)

CPD modules

Adult Healthcare Assistant

Independent Learning for Clinical Practice

Negotiated Learning for Clinical Practice

Operating Department Anaesthetic Practice

Operating Department Healthcare Assistant

Operating Department Recovery Room Practice

Operating Department Scrub and Circulating Practice

Outpatients Minor Procedures, Non-Registered Practitioner

Outpatients Minor Procedures, Registered Practitioner

Patient Clinical Assessment

Pre-operative Assessment, Non-Registered Practitioner

Pre-operative Assessment, Registered and Assistant Practitioners

Recognising and Responding to the Adult Deteriorating Patient

Surgical First Assistant

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