Publish date: 28 March 2024

Preparations underway for first students at purpose-built NHS education academy

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The countdown is on for the opening of the Northumbria Health and Care Academy – with the first students to go through the facility being recruited now.

Construction is nearing completion on the £32 million development, on the site of the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital (NSECH) in Cramlington, ahead of the first course starting in June.

This first cohort of trainee nursing associates (TNAs) will earn a salary while receiving teaching at the brand-new Academy. Their learning experience will be reinforced by placements within Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Emma Dawes, the trust’s head of nursing, midwifery and allied health professional education and workforce development, said: “It’s exciting that we are now preparing to welcome our first cohort of trainee nursing associates, as we are so keen to launch our Academy. It is a key strand of our commitment to supporting the learning, training and ongoing development of NHS staff.

“The course is a fantastic opportunity to earn while you learn, and I would encourage anyone interested to get in touch to find out more about what it could mean for your healthcare career.”

The focus of the academy will be nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists, radiographers, podiatrists and occupational therapists, but the 8,000 square metre building will also feature conference facilities, office space and meeting rooms.

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The ground floor of the Academy will be occupied by Brockwell Medical Group, now part of Northumbria Primary Care, which is relocating its GP practice from its current site two miles away. A drive-through coffee shop and nature trail are also included in the scheme. The trust’s development partner on this project is Assura plc.

Marion Dickson, Northumbria Healthcare’s executive director for nursing, midwifery, and allied health professionals, said: “We are making this major investment into what is a new way of doing things that allows staff to enter our workforce sooner, while continuing to develop their skills.

“We have long recognised the relationship between staff and patient experience, so providing a supportive environment of learning and development as we look to grow our own staff can only have a positive knock-on impact on the care that our patients receive.”

An ambitious partnership with the University of Sunderland means the TNA course is one in a series of academic programmes and apprenticeships being developed to enhance the skills of healthcare staff. The partnership means the Academy is the first facility of its kind in the North, and just the second in the country.

Other proposed courses include a top-up degree for diploma qualified staff, and an enhanced practice Masters-level qualification, alongside bespoke training opportunities such as non-medical prescribing and shortened nurse training apprenticeships leading to registration.

For more information on the TNA course, which is approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), visit the Academy’s webpage – - or contact

Applications have now closed for the first cohort, but a second cohort will be recruited later this year to start in January 2025.

Media contact

Ben O’Connell, external communications manager, Northumbria Healthcare

Benjamin.O'Connell@northumbria-healthcare.nhs.ukor 07833 046680.