St George’s Hospital in London and South Thames College are delighted to be working in partnership with the launch of a brand new Apprenticeship, the first of its kind in the country.

On Thursday 10 January, the first 18 Mammography Associate Practitioner Apprentices attended an official launch of the new Apprenticeship which is being delivered at St George’s Hospital, one of the UK’s largest teaching hospitals.

The course began development in 2017 when Public Health England identified a workforce shortage and colleagues from the Manchester Academy, National Training Centres, Health Education England, the Society of Radiographers and managers from NHS Trusts set up a mammography trailblazer group to find a way to meet the staffing needs of breast screening centres across England.

Claire Borrelli, Education and Training Manager at St George’s National Breast Education Centre, along with Hansa Jadva-Patel, Deputy Education Manager at St George’s, were part of the trailblazer group and helped to write the apprenticeship standards and shape a programme that would address this shortage, and ensure the role would improve the efficiency and quality of care women receive.

The team at The Rose Centre, the Breast Service Centre at St George’s Hospital, has worked tirelessly to help launch the course. The apprentice trailblazers were welcomed by Harbhajan Brar, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development at St George’s. Also in attendance were staff from St George’s Breast Education Centre and Peter Mayhew-Smith, Group Principal and CEO at South Thames Colleges Group.

Mammography Associates work within a multi-disciplinary team in the NHS, undertaking mammography as part of a breast screening programme. Individuals in this role will be technically skilled in operating specialised mammography equipment and be responsible for producing mammography images of consistently high quality to meet rigorous NHS Breast Screening Programme standards. On completion of the 12-18 month Apprenticeship, the mammography associate practitioners will be qualified to undertake routine 2-view mammography.

Also at the launch was Jamie Stevenson, Director of Business Partnerships at South Thames Colleges Group. He said: “This is a great partnership and opportunity, delivering a joint Apprenticeship programme, written by employers for employers. It will not only make a difference to individuals’ lives, enabling them to progress and enter into a meaningful and sustained career, but the training and skills they will gain will also save lives. I am delighted we are part of this amazing initiative and look forward to watching the first cohort succeed and achieve.”

Claire Borrelli said: “After 18 months of planning and preparation, it was fantastic to finally meet our first cohort apprentices. Each one had a real enthusiasm for the course, and I’m certain that Mammography Associate Practitioner Apprentices will become a highly valued addition to the workforce.

“The Trust is proud to be the home of this unique programme and we’re looking forward to seeing our apprentices develop over the coming year.”

Vanessa Matthews, one of the first apprentices to sign up for the course, said: “It’s a real honour to be part of this pioneering cohort. Having now started the programme and met my fellow apprentices, it’s clear that we’re all committed to delivering the highest standard of care to patients at NHS breast screening centres across the country.”