QUALIFIED nurses in Swindon looking to return to the profession are being offered a course found nowhere else in the country.

The Great Western Hospital is running a Return To Acute Care course, which aims to get nurses who have been working in other fields back on to wards.

Hospital chiefs believe there is a wealth of nursing experience and talent going to waste and are running the course as an easy way back into the profession.

Over 14 weeks those on the course will be brought up to date with the latest changes in nursing so they are ready to head to an acute area of the hospital.

The first round of the course is nearing completion and the hospital is now looking for those to join the course for next year.

Maxine Sleath, the training and development co-ordinator for acute care, who runs the course, said: “It is a very good way of getting skilled nurses back into work where they are needed.

“They have all the skills, so this is all about getting them up to date with any changes that have happened since they may have left.

“We walk them through a patient journey from start to finish so they pick up everything they need.

“Leads from other departments come down and take lessons as well.

“We get a supply of newly trained nurses every year and this allows us to mix that with experience.”

The course is open to all registered nurses regardless of their circumstances. “Some may have changed careers all together, while some may be working at a GP’s surgery or a nursing home and looking to move back into acute nursing.

There has already been success on the course with some participants being offered work at the GWH.

Carolyn Heaven, 49, is now working on the Special Care Baby Unit.

She said: “I was made redundant about two and a half years ago and wanted to get back into nursing but it was so difficult.

“Despite having experience and being registered no one wanted to take me on, despite a shortage of nurses.

“This course has been brilliant at getting me back into work.”

Difficulty at getting back into work has been a major problem for a lot of nurses who, despite working for years in the profession, were not being offered jobs.

Michelle Long, 50, who is doing the course, said: “I have 30 years’ experience and left my last job to come back.

“I rang more than 20 places but no one was interested so I was starting to worry.

“Then this course came up and it has been really helpful.”

Some of the participants on the course also come from overseas, bringing experience from other health systems.

Aneta Jankun, 38, from Poland, said: “I used to work in a hospital in Poland before I came to England nine years ago.

“I wanted to go into acute nursing but because I have been working in a nursing home they said the gap was too long.”

Those wanting to take the course need to apply at www.gwh.nhs.uk/wards-and-services-a-z/a-to-z/training. There is also a course selection day on December 2.