Local colleges have been recruited by the NHS to provide the workforce that will deliver the imminent roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine across Lewisham, Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich.

Following this week's landmark announcement that the Pfizer vaccine has been cleared for rollout across the UK, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust is now preparing for the "biggest immunisation programme of our time" as early as next week.

News of a successful vaccine will come as a welcome relief after closing in on a year of restrictions, lockdowns and nearly 60,000 deaths, but NHS bodies now face the task of rapidly producing a workforce to deliver the vaccine to the general population.

So London South East Colleges has been selected by the trust to help support the imminent roll-out, both training and recruiting staff for the effort to ensure residents in Bexley, Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich benefit.

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The NHS is looking to recruit both clinical healthcare staff and support staff from local communities in south east London. They say they are "aiming to secure a workforce that can deliver the biggest immunisation programme of our time, both now and over the coming months."

CEO of London South East Colleges, Dr Sam Parrett OBE, says: “Following today’s fantastic news about the first Covid-19 vaccine being approved, London South East Colleges is absolutely delighted to support the NHS with its critical mission.

"2020 has been an incredibly tough year for everyone, but an effective roll out this new vaccine will hopefully turn things around quickly.

“We have been developing a strategic relationship with Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust for some time, supporting it to secure a pipeline of skills and ensuring our own students have access to exciting career opportunities within the healthcare sector.

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"Never has there been a better time to consider joining the NHS – and taking on a key role in defeating Covid-19.”

The first ten participants will start the Get Ready programme on Monday 7 December with the College aiming to attract over 300 people. Oxleas expects to enrol around 1000 people in total by the end of March 2021.

The college will then assist by providing essential training, preparing candidates to enter the NHS recruitment process to support experienced staff already working in the NHS.

A huge number of roles need to be filled –from clinical staff to deliver the vaccine, through to administration support and customer service roles.

For people with no previous healthcare experience, an entry to employment package – the "Get Ready" programme - has been developed by Oxleas and the College

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This will provide participants with the skills, knowledge and behaviours to support them to access the job opportunities generated by the vaccination programme; laying the foundation for an exciting career within the NHS.

A dedicated NHS training page has been set up on London South East Colleges’ website and a targeted marketing and recruitment campaign will be launched to highlight the many opportunities on offer.

Earlier this year, CEO of Oxleas, Matthew Trainer, delivered a Landmark Lecture to students and staff at London South East Colleges - discussing the benefits of an NHS career as well as sharing his own personal journey.

Matthew says: “This will be the largest immunisation programme of our time and to deliver it effectively, we need the right people in the right place as soon as possible.

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"Our partnership with London South East Colleges will help the NHS to work with individuals from all backgrounds across our local communities, equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to make a difference as we play our part in the international fight against Covid-19.

“I would encourage anyone who is interested in a career within the healthcare sector to get in touch. Find out what opportunities are available, join our vital effort to help protect the lives of people living in Bromley, Bexley, Lewisham and Greenwich.”