The Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust / Gateshead College – Project Choice


Project Choice is a supported internship programme for people with learning disabilities, difficulties or autism (LDDA). Led by Gateshead College, internships take place in City Hospitals Sunderland, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS FT, York NHS FT, Tees Esk and Wear Valley NHS FT. The focus is ‘work readiness’ and matching skills to employment.

The HR project team leads ensure there are placements across the Trust looking specifically at entry-level jobs to make sure the right learner is allocated to this role. They also work closely with managers to confirm that tasks are clearly understood.

In addition, the programme offers training to staff to become work-based mentors, working alongside and supporting learners. Over 160 staff have been trained to support LDDA, developing unique teaching techniques and skills, which can be transferred across the organisation.

The young learners spend a minimum of 10 weeks in their placement so they are embedded in the team. The Project Choice team uses this time to look at any barriers and potential areas of development. Throughout, the learners are gradually assessed on how ready for employment they are.

Gateshead College run a work experience scheme supported by the Trust. This gives students an opportunity to develop skills for the workplace and ensures young people with LDDA understand the importance of matching their skill sets to work.

A minimum of 14 internships are supported annually, ensuring learners are ready for entry level roles or above. Over 36 interns have been supported and the employment rate has increased to over 77%.

About the author

NHS Professionals administrator

NHS Professionals manages the temporary staffing needs of around 66 NHS Trusts across England. An integral part of the NHS, it aims to reduce Trusts’ spending on flexible workers without compromising quality, by providing greater transparency of demand and supplying bank staff at the best possible rate. Its bank of more than 40,000 flexible workers comprises general and specialist nurses, doctors, midwives, admin/clerical , allied health professionals, healthcare scientists, support services among other healthcare professionals.

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