Eastwood Park as an apprentice: Peter Handforth looks back

Peter Handforth has worked with Eastwood Park for over ten years to support the delivery and development of its electrical training, alongside his work as an Authorising Engineer.

As we begin a new decade, he remembers his early days as an apprentice for the NHS, where he was sent to Eastwood Park for specialist training:

“I was very fortunate to be one of the first NHS apprentices during the late 1970’s. The apprenticeships provided a very thorough hospital engineering training programme with all aspects of engineering experience, skills and knowledge training.

“As part of the apprenticeship and after completion, I was sent to Eastwood Park for specialist electrical, electronics and lift training. I clearly remember returning from the training with a feeling that I had ‘moved on’ and developed new skills and gained additional specialist knowledge. I remember it was a place that inspired me.

“The roles of trades staff and engineers has changed considerably since those days, due in part to the changes in technology, increased demand/reliance on the building services, safe working practices, increased service contract arrangements and current standards and legislation. It concerns me now that we are driven by compliance and yet we have in many cases lost some of the engineering knowledge, skills and expertise that I experienced from colleagues. Many hospitals I work with struggle to fill posts at all levels with appropriately skilled/qualified/experienced personnel.

“I was sent on lift training and electrical training to further my knowledge and skills. Training now is often focused on meeting compliance requirements as opposed to developing knowledge and skills.

“I consider myself fortunate to be able to return to Eastwood Park and deliver electrical training. As an apprentice I never considered teaching but slowly developed a passion and took the option of teacher training.

“The training Eastwood Park offers now has increased to provide courses on all the specialist healthcare disciplines at many levels including apprentices. I have a personal passion for providing courses not just to meet compliance but to increase knowledge, develop and improve skills and also to inspire learning and self-development.”