A new type of nursing support role will begin training in hospitals in Cheshire and Wirral in February after several local NHS Trusts welcomed their first cohort of nursing associates.
The role has been introduced as part of Health Education England’s national initiative to support existing nursing staff and could provide an additional route for many to become a degree registered nurse.
Paul Stewart, from Greasby in Wirral, is starting as a trainee nursing associate after working as a porter and domestic at WUTH. Paul said: “The support and encouragement from everyone has been fantastic. You can tell there is a real drive to make this new role a success.”
Cheshire and Wirral is one of only 11 pilot sites across England to pioneer the new nursing associate role with trainees starting in six NHS organisations across the region.
Local trainees will work alongside registered nurses and other healthcare staff in hospital wards and community settings, whilst also receiving thorough support and training from the University of Chester as part of a two-year course.
Once they have finished their training and placements, nursing associates working in a range of clinical and community settings will bridge the gap between care assistants and registered nurses in a hands-on role that ensures patients receive compassionate, person-centred care.
Local mental health Trust Cheshire and Wirral Partnership (CWP) will host eight trainees and is also leading the project for the region.
CWP director of nursing, therapies and patient partnerships Avril Devaney said: “This is the start of an exciting journey for a group of local people with healthcare experience, who have potential and a longing to work at a higher level than their current role allows. The new nursing associate role makes this possible.
“Our focus is on delivering person-centred care, ensuring people and their families who access services are treated in a way that allows their personal needs and preferences to be taken into consideration.”
Professor Annette McIntosh-Scott, executive dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Care at the University of Chester said: “The Faculty of Health and Social Care of the University of Chester is extremely pleased to be working with our partner trusts in developing and delivering this innovative programme. This new role has the potential to make a real difference to local healthcare.”
Allison Reed is one of CWP’s new trainee nursing associates. She said: “It’s an honour to be part of the first cohort of trainee Nursing Associates. This exciting new role has created a new pathway to help more people get into nursing, which can only be a good thing.
“I’ve had previous experience of working in both mental and physical health. Now I’m keen to develop my knowledge and transfer my skills so that I can deliver person-centred care.”
Wirral Community Trust, 5 Borough Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (WUTH) and East Cheshire NHS Trust are also supporting trainee nursing associates as part of the pilot.