A new NHS apprenticeship scheme to help people achieve their dreams of becoming Registered Nurses received an excellent response at its launch this weekend.Up to 34 people have so far expressed an interest in joining the West Norfolk Cohort, which is a locally based training scheme to allow Health or Social Care Assistants to achieve their dream career.The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation NHS Trust (NSFT) and Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust have joined forces on this project, which is hoped to boost the number of nurses working in West Norfolk.A total of 25 places are being offered on the 18-month higher apprenticeship, which is the equivalent of a foundation degree, with the chance to continue studying to become a Registered Nurse.The scheme was launched with a series of presentations during an event in The Inspire Centre, at the hospital, on Saturday.Emma Hardwick, the Hospital’s Director of Nursing, was pleased with the response to the apprenticeship scheme.She said: “The West Norfolk Cohort apprenticeship scheme is an exciting opportunity for Health or Social Care Assistants to ‘earn while they learn’. For some people, going to university is not an option but this apprenticeship scheme will open a door into nursing for them.“The response to the launch was wonderful and the people who attended showed great passion and enthusiasm for a career in nursing. Anyone who was unable to attend on Saturday is still welcome to contact our Apprenticeship Coordinator to express an interest in joining the scheme.“We are delighted to be working with our colleagues at Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust and Norfolk Community Health and Care to offer this apprenticeship scheme.”Georgia Apsitis, Talent for Care Co-ordinator for NCH&C added: “We were really impressed with the turn out of the event, it’s great to see both new and existing staff wanting to further their careers into nursing, we are looking forward to working alongside the others trusts on this exciting project.”Dawn Collins, NSFT’s Deputy Director of Nursing, said: “We are delighted at the great turn out for our awareness-raising day. To have so many declarations of interest at this early stage is a testament to the fact that this is the type of opportunity we need to be offering people either coming into the NHS or wanting to develop their careers with all of our NHS trusts. “I think people understand that with this programme we are not only investing in the future of our local NHS, but most importantly in the staff who work within it. All of that will benefit our local patients.”Band 2 or 3 Health or Social Care Assistants, who work for any of the three trusts, also have the opportunity to complete an 18-month higher apprenticeship, which is the equivalent to a foundation degree. This course is being delivered by the University of Suffolk and the next session is due to start in June with recruitment being advertised from March.Existing or newly recruited workers will undertake face-to-face learning along with web lectures before demonstrating what they have learned on the wards. They will also have the opportunity to continue their employment as an Assistant Practitioner or continue their studies to become a Registered Nurse.Nursing students are also being encouraged to complete their training at the hospital or other health organisations in West Norfolk with the hopes of attracting them to work in the area after their qualification.This week marks apprenticeship week and the hospital has a total of 68 people undertaking apprenticeships in a range of subjects and levels, such as business administration, management, clinical healthcare support.