Two midlands-based independent training providers have rushed to the aid of the region’s new coronavirus hospital.

Performance Through People (PTP) and GB Training ran classes for over 300 nursing, care and cleaning staff now working at the Nightingale Hospital at Birmingham’s NEC.

Their teams were called in by the NHS last week to deliver what is now a rare instance of face-to-face training.

“We were giving them training on the basics of everything,” PTP’s managing director Rob Colbourne told FE Week, “so when they started caring for patients, they were multi-skilled”.

The Nightingale hospital was officially opened yesterday by Prince William, and is expected to take coronavirus patients from 23 midlands hospitals.

The trainers adhered to government guidance around personal protective equipment and using sanitisers.

The providers expect to be delivering further training on an “as and when” basis, rather than to a regular schedule, as the hospital staff are “so busy”, Colbourne said.

GB Training managing director Lawrence Barton said he was “immensely proud of our team, for putting themselves forward for this role without hesitation”.

One of his staff members who went to Nightingale, health and social care tutor Tommy Silvester, said he had “an instinctive feeling to try and help people in any way that I can,” so he was “thankful I can do my bit by training excellent frontline staff”.

“It’s a great compliment to be asked to do that,” Rob Colbourne added. “It’s a great feeling at times when there is a lot of bad news, it’s great to feel the company is going to be contributing to something that’s going to be very, very important for the midlands.”

Yet, as happy as they are to support the government’s efforts to fight the virus, PTP has been less than impressed by the support it has received from Whitehall to continue operating.

The provider is rated ‘good’ by Ofsted and turned a £170,000 profit before tax last year, but is now facing “immediate and very serious” cashflow challenges as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Colbourne told FE Week that PTP’s income has fallen in recent weeks after apprentice numbers dropped by a quarter from 1,500 to 1,100 through redundancy and breaks in learning.

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