A former staff social club in the grounds of the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) has been transformed into a brand new education and training facility for nurses, midwives, allied health professionals (AHP’s) and student nurses, thanks to the generosity of staff.

The club, which was previously owned and run by staff, closed in 2015 and has since been used as a storage facility.

Now, the social club trustees and staff have generously gifted the deeds and ownership of the building back to the ownership of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), on the condition that the building is used as a nurse training facility to help train nurses and ultimately, improve patient care.

In addition, the trustees and staff members also made a donation to Bay Hospitals Charity, the official charity of UHMBT to allow the charity to purchase new computers for the centre.

The education and training centre has been fully renovated and refurbished and is a first for the Trust. It includes a large open-plan practical teaching room with resources for training nurses, midwives, allied health professionals (AHP’s) and nursing students.

Joann Morse, Director of Nursing at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: “The last 12 months has seen many changes to the way nurses can come to the UK to practice and obtain their Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registration. Once a nurse from overseas joins our Trust, they are required to undergo a set of extensive tests and training which takes around four months before they are ‘ward ready’.

“The first part of the test is a computer-based test. If successful, the applicant then takes a structured clinical examination (known as an OSCE exam) which involves taking and successfully completing a set of competences, which tests applicants’ skills, knowledge and behaviors in a simulated practice environment.

“The new centre will allow us to bring our much-needed home-grown nurses and nurses we recruit from overseas through the centre and ensure that they are ready to be allocated to caring for patients on our wards as quickly as possible.

“The Capital services team have done an absolutely fantastic job and it’s amazing to see how the old social club has now been given a new lease of life which will support nurse education and training and, ultimately benefit patient care for years to come.

“It’s a meaningful legacy that has been left by the social club committee and staff members, and on behalf of everyone at the Trust, I’d like to thank them for their extremely generous gift.

Lisa Downham, who works as a nurse on Cardiac Care unit at the RLI and was heavily involved in running the social club said: “Sadly the committee took the difficult decision to close the club in 2015. I was sad to see it close but I, and I’m sure many other staff members who used the club, have nothing but happy memories of our time in the club.

“Over the years we had some great nights in the club, including many fundraising events to help improve services across the hospital for patients.  I’m just really pleased that the building has now been given a new lease of life and that the new education and training centre will benefit nurses and patients for generations to come.”

Andy Waddington, Capital Services Manager at UHMBT, adds: “In addition to the new facility which will help us train both new and current nurses we were also able to use the space outside the building to create 45 much needed additional car parking spaces for staff. We really can’t thank the social club committee members and all the staff involved enough for their kindness and generosity.”

Bay Hospitals Charity is a registered charity which raises money to help improve patient care and the hospital experience at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust hospitals.

Every day incredible things happen across our hospitals, but this is not without cost. By donating to Bay Hospitals Charity you can help fund the latest equipment and help make your local hospitals more comfortable, ensuring you get the best possible care and treatment possible.

For more information on Bay Hospitals Charity or to make a donation, visit: www.bayhospitalscharity.org/donate