Local health trusts and UCLan are working in partnership to deliver a national programme to expand the healthcare workforce
Education and training for an innovative new nursing role within the region has started thanks to investment from a national pilot scheme.
Three local health trusts and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are working in partnership to deliver a new nursing associate programme.
The nursing associate will work alongside registered nurses and healthcare support workers to deliver direct patient care, focusing on ensuring patients continue to receive compassionate, person centred care.
The students will be employed and work within acute, mental health, primary and community services at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, or Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. They will combine their work with studying one day a week for a foundation degree at UCLan.
Among the first cohort of 47 students, who started their programme on 27 March, was 25-year-old Tahlia Norman, from Preston. The Guild Lodge mental health support worker said: “This new course is an exciting opportunity for me to learn while I’m still working and at the end of the two years it will boost my chances of furthering my career. I’ve previously studied for a degree in working with children and families but this new nursing associate course attracted me because of the future career opportunities available.”
It has been agreed that the programme will be regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and is mapped against a nationally agreed framework and will provide opportunity to progress onto a nursing degree. The nursing associate is a new role to the healthcare workforce and complement other members of the multi-disciplinary team.
"At UCLan we have a long history of collaborating with our partner NHS Trusts and providing programmes in nursing, midwifery and allied health professions and this new course will complement the programmes that we offer."
UCLan’s Dr Nigel Harrison, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, said: “We are delighted to be working collaboratively with three of our partner NHS Trusts to deliver this two-year foundation degree. This programme will provide students with the knowledge, skills and values to undertake the new role of nursing associate.
“At UCLan we have a long history of collaborating with our partner NHS Trusts and providing programmes in nursing, midwifery and allied health professions and this new course will complement the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that we offer within the University.”
Around 1,000 nursing associates have been created nationally. The Lancashire and South Cumbria Partnership, which is part of the NHS England Fast Follower pilot, will also support two healthcare staff to undertake a professional doctorate in health to evaluate the new initiative and the experiences of all stakeholders involved.
Rachael Mitchell, Associate Director of the Quality Academy (Education, Training and Professional Development) at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to be part of the pilot and commitment to building a workforce that meets the changing needs of the people we care for. The benefits of the role are immense providing additional support for registered nurses to be released to provide more advanced tasks. The role additionally presents exciting opportunities for those staff wishing to progress their careers.”
Simone Anderton, Deputy Director of Nursing and Quality at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, commented: “We are excited to be involved in this pioneering work in developing new roles and see this as a real opportunity to invest in and develop our workforce in line with new health and social care partnership models of care aligned to Vanguard.”
Linda Whitfield, Head of Workforce Education & Development at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “We are proud and excited to be involved in this national pilot for the Nursing Associate role, 16 members of our staff are now undertaking this two year training based in our organisation. We hope that they will be trailblazers for more of our staff to do this in the future.”