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Home > News > A pioneering new healthcare role: Devon’s nursing associate trainees start work

A pioneering new healthcare role: Devon’s nursing associate trainees start work

Dozens of trainees have started an exciting new pilot programme in hospitals and care homes across Devon, training in a new role to become nursing associates.

Devon was selected as one of 11 pilot sites nationally and the only one in the south to develop the role. The nursing associate position is a new role that is designed to bridge the gap between health and care support workers, who have a care certificate, and graduate registered nurses.  It offers an opportunity for health care assistants to progress into nursing roles.

A total of 69 trainees are currently employed within the following organisations

  • Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust
  • Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust
  • Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Livewell South West Plymouth

The trainee nursing associates will undertake placements with various health and social care providers, including private care homes, GP practices, Hospiscare, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, and Devon Partnership NHS Trust.

Ann-Marie Watkins, trainee nursing associate at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “This is a really exciting role and a great opportunity to progress my career, particularly as university was not the right option for me. It’s the ideal route for me as I can complete my studies alongside working.

“The training itself is proving to be challenging but incredibly rewarding. It has opened up lots of doors for me and I have learned so many new practical skills. I’ve had lots of support from others, and the nurses in particular have helped me to appreciate a new level of responsibility.”

Each nursing associate’s training will take two years to complete and will be a combination of work-based competencies, hands-on experience and at least one study day a week. The training providers are South Devon College and Petroc College, supported by Plymouth University.

The pilot site is taking place across the wider Devon Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP). Devon was selected by Health Education England after a bidding process. As part of its bid, Devon STP stressed the unique challenge it faces in attracting registered nurses (RNs) due to its large rural area and shortage of supporting transport routes.

Andrea Bell, deputy director of nursing at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Nursing recruitment is a challenge nationally and particularly in Devon, and we believe this new role will help to strengthen and diversify nursing roles across the county.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our own staff to develop and be part of our future workforce. We believe this offers a clear career pathway for healthcare assistants to move into nursing roles, and we hope that this programme will create a higher-skilled care worker who is able to support registered nurses in the provision of care to patients.”

Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive of Health Education England, said: “We are at a pivotal point in determining what the future nursing and care workforce needs to look like for now and in the years to come. I passionately believe that this new role will help build the capacity and capability of the health and social care workforce and allow high quality care to be delivered to a diverse and ageing population.”

1 comment to A pioneering new healthcare role: Devon’s nursing associate trainees start work

  • Robert Wootton FRSA

    A case of “Back to the Future”! Years ago, we had S.R.N.s and S.E.N.s; State Registered Nurses who did a 3 year course to qualify as nurses and Ward Managers, (Staff Nurses) and State Enrolled Nurses who did a 2 year course because they wanted to be involved in “hands on” care and not management. The came along Project 2000 to make nursing more professional by offering Degree level training. Health Care Assistants were introducd to bring down the cost of nursing. Now it is realised that Health Care Assistants need more expertise and Nursing Associates are being trained, which to my mind is a replacement for the S.E.N.s of years ago.
    Because of waste of resources (money) in the NHS resulting in the lack of doctos, staff nurses can now train to be Advanced Nurse Practitioners, which from my understanding, would allow them to fulfil some of the roles of Junior Doctors. The NHS should go further “Back to the Future” and reinstate Nurses Accommodation at all hospitals. Also scrap CCGs to pay for this and let the Dept. of Health and a section of the O.N.S. run the NHS. The ONS could look at the demographics of health care needs when the ageing population has died and the new “baby boom” moves through the age ranges and different demands on the NHS are seen to be required.

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