A former construction worker has decided to transfer his skills from building houses to building better futures after retraining as a mental health nurse.

Simon Austin began his career as a builder, but after deciding to turn his hand to healthcare joined St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton in 2000 as a Healthcare Assistant.

Hoping to progress his career within the sector while working at the Northampton hospital he joined the St Andrew’s ASPIRE programme which offers many training opportunities. This allowed Simon, as a Healthcare Assistant, to train and became a mental health nurse.

The programme allows Healthcare Assistants to combine their learning and experience by jumping straight into the second year of the University of Northampton’s Mental Health Nursing degree – completing a nursing degree in two years. The programme was funded and supported by St Andrew’s, a huge benefit to Simon who might not have been able to afford university otherwise.

Simon said: “I had been working since I was 16 and needed to earn a monthly salary. As an older adult I would not have been able to fund the course myself, so the financial support was a major factor for me in deciding to do the training. I could fit in paid shifts around university which really helped. The course developed my confidence and my experience and knowledge of working with people with different mental health conditions. I became better at my job and was able to help patients more effectively.”

Simon says that during the course he felt really supported by everyone around him, which was important as it was a big step for him to go to university as a mature student.

Simon added: “St Andrew’s is a wonderful place to work. It has excellent facilities and training opportunities to help people progress. Originally, I didn’t intend on becoming a qualified nurse, however, as I had done various training courses since working at St Andrew’s it built up my confidence academically and I decided to take the next step in my career.”

As well as encouraging professional development for qualified nurses, St Andrew’s also offers financially supported nursing scholarships to individuals who are passionate about a career in mental health nursing. These are offered on a unique three-and half-year scholarship programme.

They are aimed at 18–24-year-olds who have the drive to attend university, but not necessarily the support or financial means to do it. The programme combines hands-on experience at St Andrew’s, with academic learning and study at the University of Northampton, leading to a BSc (Hon’s) degree.

St Andrew’s is recruiting newly qualified and student nurses, through to senior mental health nurses and a clinical nurse lead role. For those at the start of their career, St Andrew’s offers the chance to join an expert multi-disciplinary team working and gain wide experience initially, before choosing an area to specialise in.

At St Andrew’s, every nurse has a structured career pathway to enable them to achieve their ambitions – whether this is remaining in clinical roles or moving into management. There is a positive and inclusive working culture, enhanced pay with nurses benefiting from a qualified clinical allowance awarded on top of their basic salary, as well as enhanced shift pay, and the chance to work in an environment with outstanding facilities.

One new role is for a female student/newly qualified nurse to work on DBT/low secure and psychiatric intensive care unit. The starting salary is £27,244 and the deadline for applications is 30 January 2022. Another role is for student nurses/newly qualified nurses to work on the medium secure division. It is the same starting salary, with an application deadline of 6 February 2022.

St Andrew’s is also recruiting senior mental health nurses for the child and adolescent mental health service, and senior staff nurses for the medium secure division, both with a starting salary of £35,500 and application deadlines of 30 January 2022 and 6 February 2022, respectively.

Finally, St Andrew’s is looking for a clinical nurse lead for the medium secure division to lead and work in collaboration with the multi-disciplinary team and deputise for the nurse manager as required. The salary is £37,375 to £38,900 and the application deadline is 30 January 2022.

Dave Anthony, Head of Recruitment at St Andrew’s Healthcare said: “Whatever stage in your nursing career, St Andrew’s enables people to progress in a supportive environment focused on learning and development. Mental health and learning disability nursing are growing areas. We are looking for talented nurses to bring their compassion and enthusiasm and become part of our healthcare teams, delivering brilliant care, and helping to transform the lives of our patients.”

For those looking to relocate, Northampton offers the perfect combination of bustling urban life and peaceful countryside[i]. For nurses seeking a better work life balance, the county offers affordable housing, excellent schools, good transport links to the rest of the UK and a fantastic quality of life.

St Andrew’s Healthcare is part of the ‘Best of Both Worlds’ recruitment campaign. The campaign brings together the University of Northampton, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Northampton General Hospital, Kettering General Hospital (KGH), St Andrew’s Healthcare and Northants GP and aims to recruit nurses, doctors, and healthcare professionals to live and work in Northamptonshire.


To find out about vacancies across Northamptonshire visit http://bestofbothworlds.uk.net/

[i] https://www.northampton.ac.uk/student-life/northamptonshire/3-reasons-to-love-living-in-northampton/#:~:text=Northampton%20is%20the%20perfect%20combination,for%20walks%20and%20days%20outside.