New teams of 'nursing associates' will be trained and recreated across Northamptonshire to work in hospitals, GP practices and care homes.
Training and recruitment for these new roles will begin in December. It is not clear how many roles will be created in Northamptonshire. They will work alongside existing nursing care support workers and fully-qualified nurses to care for patients.
Eleven sites across the country – representing partnerships between universities and employers, including NHS trusts, GP practices and care homes – have been confirmed to carry out the piloting over the next two years. Northamptonshire is represented on the Midlands & East pilot site which includes neighbouring areas of Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire & Rutland.
Northampton General Hospital, Kettering General Hospital, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Northampton are all partners in the programme which will provide trainees with on-the-job learning through a combination of placements days, taught education, and time in practice.
Carolyn Fox, director of nursing, midwifery and patient services at Northampton General Hospital, said: “This new role has been designed to bridge the gap between health and care support workers and graduate registered nurses.
"For health care assistants, it offers great opportunities to progress into nursing roles; for nurses, it provides practical support and skills on our busy wards; and for our patients, it means their care will be delivered by an enhanced nursing team all focused on delivering safe and compassionate care.
“On a larger scale, it’s a great opportunity for Northamptonshire and I’m delighted that our combined expertise will influence the future of our nursing workforce.”
Dr Steve O’Brien, Dean of the University of Northampton’s Faculty of Health and Society, added: “The Faculty of Health and Society at the University of Northampton are pleased to be a partner in the development and delivery of the new nursing associate programmes being rolled out through the first wave of test bed centres funded by Health Education England (HEE). This is a significant development in relation to the local health and social care workforce in Northamptonshire specifically and the East Midlands more generally."
Julie Shepherd, director of nursing, AHPs and quality at Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As a trust we are committed to developing our workforce and helping to open up nursing to people from all backgrounds. We believe the new nursing associate role provides a fantastic opportunity for people to get into nursing and we look forward to helping shape future generations of nurses.”
Kettering General Hospital’s director of nursing and quality, Leanne Hackshall, welcomed the new role. She said: “It offers opportunities for support workers and nurses and for greater collaboration across Northamptonshire. It is a new and exciting role that will enable us to further develop our workforce and enable them to gain skills and knowledge to better meet the needs of our patients. The make up of the workforce in the NHS is changing rapidly and it is to new ways of working and new roles that we must look to continue to provide high quality care.”