A pioneering education programme aimed at transforming the nursing and care workforce has launched at the University of Derby.
The Nursing Associate is a new support role which will work alongside care assistants and registered nurses to deliver hands-on care for patients.
In December 2015, the Government announced plans for the new addition to the care workforce to help bridge the gap between healthcare support workers and registered nurses.
Eleven sites across the UK were chosen to deliver the first wave of training and run over a two-year period and the University of Derby was one of them.
The test sites bring together a wide range of organisations including educational institutions, care homes, acute, community and mental health trusts and hospices, representing the variety of places where Nursing Associates will provide care for patients.
And this week, 110 students – the largest cohort of nursing associates in the UK – have begun their training at the University of Derby.
Denise Baker, Head of Pre-Qualifying Health Care at the University, said: “Our students are part of a national cohort of 1,000 and we are extremely proud that we are the largest cohort in England. This is an exciting opportunity for the University to build on its partnerships and to be at the forefront of this ground-breaking development.
“The new work-based training is open to suitably qualified and experienced care workers. This role gives them the opportunity to move up the career ladder and eventually become registered nurses, should they wish, as well as the opportunity to make even more of a difference to patients’ lives.”
The University is working with Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Derbyshire Community Health Services, Derbyshire Healthcare and Derby Teaching Hospitals, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Primary and Social Care, to deliver the new programme, which will be regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
The pilot programme has been funded by Health Education England.
Nursing associates will support nurses to spend more time using their specialist training to focus on clinical duties and take more of a lead in decisions about patient care.
Amy Buttery, 29, who works as a care support worker at Ash Green Specialist Learning Disability Service in Chesterfield, is one of the students in Derby’s first cohort.
She said: “This new role couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’m an ambitious person so this is a chance for me to put into practice what I already know and gain even more skills. It means I can work, learn and earn all at the same time.”
Ruth Auton, Senior Nurse Manager ( Policy) at Health Education England, said: “This is a historic point in nursing. The nursing associate is a new role that is going to impact positively on patient experience as well as give people the opportunity to study and train to progress their own careers.”