A Bradford company is opening its doors to its pioneering business that is helping address the NHS staffing crisis.

Neoniq, which offers placements for students as well as low cost physiotherapy treatments for local people at its base in Shipley, is running an open day on Monday April 4.

The company was the brainchild of Claire Graham and Michael Hellawell, who saw a gap in the market while lecturing in physiotherapy at the University of Bradford.

Michael said. “The NHS needs more qualified staff, but in order to get the qualifications the students need to go on placements, but there aren’t enough and so that’s where the bottleneck is. Creating more placements helps solve the problem.”

Claire added: “For people working in the NHS, who are already under pressure, having a student on placement adds to the workload. But for us, the workload is the students. And we can focus on the learning environment, rather than it being something on top of what people are being asked to do in a stretched workplace.”

The pair were encouraged by discussions they had with Health Education England, which is responsible for the education of health care professionals, and they have been given support by AD:VENTURE, which helps early stage businesses in North and West Yorkshire.

Their clinic, which opened last November, has already had more than 300 students on placement and more than 200 local people have received physiotherapy treatment, with the initial assessment being free and five follow-up sessions for just £20.

Claire said: “We do not make our money from seeing patients, so we can be inexpensive, as it is a student-led consultation. It means we are not an exclusive service, so we are finding the local GPs do refer patients to us because we are an affordable option.”

Claire and Michael have already taken on two members of staff, a physiotherapist and a graduate sport rehabilitator, who have, or are working towards, teaching qualifications. They plan to take on more staff, with specialities in different health areas.

Several universities, including Leeds, Bradford, York and Hull, are already sending students on placement. And, as well as physiotherapy students, Neoniq has had pharmacy students, nursing students, trainee physician associates and T-level students on placements. Some placements are online and some are at their premises at Merchants Quay.

Before setting up Neoniq, Michael was professional lead in physiotherapy at the University of Bradford. He had worked for the NHS in Calderdale before moving into academia. Claire, who started her physiotherapy career in East Yorkshire, was programme lead.

When they started the company the pair turned to AD:VENTURE, initially for financial support, but also for advice and guidance. They were given a grant of £10,200 by AD:VENTURE to pay towards equipment, and were given a business adviser and the chance to attend workshops.

“We are comfortable in our clinical skills and comfortable in our academic and supervisory abilities, but business is new to both of us,” said Claire.

“We learned loads from AD:VENTURE through all the workshops they offer and through the support of a business adviser. It really helped us upskill our business knowledge.”

The open day, which starts at 10.30am on April 4, will give local people a chance to look round Neoniq’s premises and find out more about the treatments on offer. It will be attended by Dr Manoj Joshi, who is the chair of the Bradford Economic Partnership.

Manoj said: “I am really impressed by what Neoniq are doing. They are having an impact locally and nationally. They are providing good quality, cost-effective services to the local community and helping solve a national problem at the same time.

“It just shows that local businesses are important in their locality, but can also play a part in the bigger picture. Bradford District is an ideal place for businesses to start, grow and flourish."

AD:VENTURE is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with other funding and delivery partners across the Leeds City Region. They include the nine local authorities, The Business Enterprise Fund, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds Beckett University, the Prince’s Trust and West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

The open day at Neoniq at Merchants Quay, Shipley, starts at 10.30am on April 4. Public and press are invited. Please email support@neoniq.co.uk to attend.

For more information about AD:VENTURE go to https://www.ad-venture.org.uk/