WMCA-funded health course helps adult learner Chelsea work on NHS front line in fight against Coronavirus

A Birmingham healthcare assistant is using the skills she is learning in a course funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to help patients coming into the region’s busiest A&E department.

Chelsea Macleod is combining 13-hour night shifts at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, helping in the fight against Covid-19 on the front line at the acute medical unit (AMU), with studying and a busy family life.

The 31-year-old, who lives in Weoley Castle with her partner and three-year-old daughter Indie, has worked in health and care since she was 16, starting as a hospital housekeeper.

WMCA-funded health course helps adult learner Chelsea work on NHS front line in fight against Coronavirus

Chelsea Macleod

She is now studying a Pre-Access to HE (Health) course online at Fircroft College of Adult Education, funded through the WMCA’s adult education budget, to give her the qualifications she needs to gain her dream job of becoming a paramedic.

Chelsea joined the Queen Elizabeth Hospital as a porter three years ago and recently moved to the acute medical unit, having previously worked as a healthcare assistant and a phlebotomist for other hospitals.

Her work includes assessing patients when they first arrive, taking blood samples, doing electrocardiograms (ECG tests) and carrying out regular observations. She sees up to 60 patients per shift, including some with Covid-19.

The part-time course, which Chelsea started in February and finishes in June, includes healthcare practice, sociology, health psychology, pathology, maths and English.

She said: “I’d definitely recommend the course to other people. It’s helping me develop my skills to work faster in my job on the front line now, and will give me the qualifications I need to become a paramedic.

“The tutors are fantastic. If you don’t understand something straightaway, they will take as much time as you need to explain it.

“It can be difficult combining work and family life with studying, but I’ve managed to keep up and I’m on track to finish the course on time. I’ve only got a few modules left to complete and I’m looking forward to the future.”

The WMCA is funding the Pre-Access to HE (Health) course through the adult education budget, which is enabling residents from across the region to benefit from flexible learning programmes that they can fit around their work and family life.  

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Chelsea’s story is a great example of how adult education helps local people, both in their current jobs and to achieve their future ambitions. It’s great that she is part of the NHS team doing a brilliant job on the front line fighting Covid-19.

“Whether you are trying to get a new job, looking for a career change or want improved qualifications to earn a promotion during these incredibly challenging times, the WMCA is here to help. I would urge everyone to check out our Covid-19 support site and think about improving their skills.”

Fircroft College’s Principal and CEO, Mel Lenehan, said: “We are extremely proud of Chelsea and all of our students who are working in front line services at the moment. This will be an incredible experience for Chelsea and will certainly play a major part in her career in the health service. It is astonishing that she has managed to continue studying at such a stressful and busy time.”

Anyone who would like to learn new skills can find out more about online courses funded by the WMCA at https://beta.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/productivity-and-skills/online-resources/

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