Combined Healthcare successful in bid for prestigious NHS WDES Innovation Award

North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust has been successful in its bid for a prestigious NHS England Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) Innovation Fund Retention Award to support newly qualified, disabled clinical members of staff.  

The Trust has been awarded the WDES Innovation funding to introduce a new ‘buddy scheme’ in 2022 for its newly qualified nurses, allied healthcare professionals (AHPs) and other employees with a disability, neuro-difference or long-term health condition. At least 7.8 percent of Combined Healthcare’s clinical staff within Bands 5 – 7 identify with disability. 

“For new colleagues who identify with a disability, including newly qualified nurses and AHPs, the buddy scheme will ensure that they have an additional level of support in the workplace at Combined Healthcare,” said Shajeda Ahmed, Executive Director of People, OD & Inclusion, North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust. 

“We believe that this project will be a further step forward in attracting, recruiting and retaining our future clinicians and other professionals, and I am delighted that we have been successful in this Fund bid.  Thank you to everyone involved at Combined Healthcare who has worked on the bid and will be working on this initiative for the Trust.”  

Lesley Faux, Diversity and Inclusion Lead, North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust, added: “Starting a new role can be an exciting time, but it can also feel quite overwhelming with meeting new colleagues and getting to speed with a new role.  We also recognise that this can feel even more challenging for colleagues who may have a disability or neuro-difference.   

“Having a buddy can make a big difference to how quickly new staff can settle into their new role, but more importantly ensuring staff feel supported and included. Making a connection with a dedicated support network colleague makes all the difference. 

“Our aim is to attract and train buddies – initially from our Combined Ability Network – who are keen to learn and develop their knowledge in all different aspects of disability, who are confident to approach senior staff, will listen and help the individual to resolve any issues they face and retain this role to improve our buddy system using their gained experiences. 

“It is also our intention to work with universities to identify students with a disability who will need to access additional support and who are due to qualify/already qualified to put a package of support in place to enable them to join the workforce.” 

Find out more about WDES here