NHS Trusts across Lancashire are welcoming their first ever nursing associates following a successful pilot programme at the University of Central Lancashire.
UCLan was one of the first universities in the country to run the two-year nursing associates foundation degree and now the first cohort has already been offered jobs across three NHS Trusts; East Lancashire Hospitals, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, and Lancashire Care.
The pioneering role was developed by Health Education England as a new support role to bridge the gap between health care assistants and registered nurses. It focuses on delivering hands-on care for patients while at the same time freeing up registered nurses’ to focus on more complex clinical duties.
Nursing associates are educated in all areas of care including mental and physical health, acute, primary, secondary and community care.
The first cohort of students were all already working as health care assistants, allowing them to build on their existing experience and develop their careers.
Although a professional role in its own right, nursing associates have the opportunity to progress and complete an 18-month conversion course to become a registered nurse.
Samantha Fielding (30) will be a nursing associate at Royal Blackburn on the haematology ward. She said: “I’ve been a health care assistant for 10 years and what I love about this role is that it’s very patient focused. We’re also trained across several disciplines so we can offer holistic care by supporting and complementing the care given by registered nurses.”
Sam Donohue, the national nursing associate lead for HEE, congratulated the students who all began their course in March 2017.
She said: “This role evolved from a report commissioned to look at the nursing workforce over the next 30 years. Nursing associates offer a unique contribution to care, which puts patients at the centre of everything. Because they are trained in so many areas, we’re already seeing knowledge and best-practise shared across disciplines.”
Head of the UCLan School of Nursing Professor Karen Wright said: “All of these students are trailblazers and I am thrilled to see them ready to go into many areas of the NHS and make a significant contribution. Being a nursing associate is about being at the heart of the patient journey and taking the time to offer the best care possible.”
Professor Nigel Harrison, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing at UCLan, added: “This is just the beginning of what will be exciting careers for the nursing associates. It is a pioneering course which we are proud to have developed and delivered collaboratively with our NHS partner provider organisations.”