Pioneering trainee nurse associates first to graduate from University

by CWP News - 21 March 2019

The first-ever cohort of new trainee nursing associates has just graduated from the University of Chester.

The Cheshire and Wirral Training Nursing Associate Partnership (a group of local NHS trusts) worked with the Faculty of Health and Social Care to develop the Nursing Associate foundation degree.

The 40 graduates completed a two-year work-based programme and are now Registered Nursing Associates.

The nursing associate role was created in 2017 to address a skills gap between health care assistants and registered nurses – a stand-alone role that can also provide a progression route into graduate level nursing.

Nursing associates are trained to work with people of all ages, in a variety of settings, and will enable registered nurses to focus on more complex clinical duties by helping meet the changing health and care needs of patients. Nursing associates will support, not substitute, registered nurses, creating better educated and skilled support staff that will allow improved use of graduate registered nurse resources.

Cheshire and Wirral was one of the first 11 pilot sites across the country selected by Health Education England to pioneer nursing associate training in England. A further 5,000 are planned to start programmes in England in 2018 and 7,500 in 2019.

Avril Devaney, Director of Nursing at Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust leads the local Nurse Associate collaboration. She said:

“We are absolutely delighted that the first ever cohort of trainee nursing associates in England are graduating this week. Nursing associates are already making a really positive impact on the wider nursing family by supporting person-centred care – and our graduates can be really proud of their achievements.

“The hard work that they as individuals - and the wider partnership - have achieved is also being recognised nationally with three shortlisted entries in this year’s Nursing Times Awards.”

During the foundation degree programme trainees worked alongside registered nurses and other healthcare professionals in hospital wards as well as community settings, and the course included support and training at the University of Chester.

Katie Mansfield-Loynes, Senior Lecturer at the University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care and Programme Leader for the Nursing Associate foundation degree, said: “The initiative was aimed at care workers within six local trusts, and while these workers already had caring experience, academia was new to them.”

Katie added: “The University has a long and proud tradition of working with employers in regard to health and social care programmes. The collaborative partnership development to support the Nursing Associate foundation degree course locally was recognised at the 2018 Educate North Awards – when the partnership was shortlisted for the Employer Engagement Award.

“Now they have successfully completed their initial training the nursing associates will take on a variety of hands-on roles, ensuring patients receive compassionate, person-centred care.”

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