Pioneering project for training nurses

The first 10 recruits on the innovative nurse training programme, including Hazel Chapman, second from right, and Jenni Thompson, far right, who are both from Morpeth. Picture by North News & Pictures.

The first 10 recruits on the innovative nurse training programme, including Hazel Chapman, second from right, and Jenni Thompson, far right, who are both from Morpeth. Picture by North News & Pictures.

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Two organisations have joined forces in a unique partnership to develop an innovative new way of training people with healthcare experience to become nurses.

In what is believed to be the first of its kind in the country, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Northumbria University are working together to deliver a new work-based programme leading to an honours degree in nursing for people who already have substantial experience and previous academic study in the nursing and healthcare sector.

The trust has invested £1million to put together a bespoke 18-month undergraduate programme to train nurses of the future that meets the requirements of the professional regulatory body the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The first 10 recruits have started the programme and once trained and qualified to work in the NHS, will help to ease pressures on the future workforce.

They include Hazel Chapman and Jenni Thompson, both from Morpeth.

Jenni, 33, who previously worked as a nursing assistant in the maternity unit at Hexham General Hospital, said: “I was working in pharmaceuticals before having my children and wanted to work part-time, so I decided to change career.

“I trained as a breastfeeding volunteer after having my first child and then became a breastfeeding support worker in Northumberland. This grew my interest in healthcare and I planned to do a nursing degree in around five years, but this opportunity came up and it was too good to miss.

“I love it so far. It’s so interesting and the teaching team have been fantastic. I couldn’t ask for better support.”

The recruits will have guaranteed employment at Northumbria Healthcare. The BSc in adult nursing studies features a mix of classroom-based teaching and hands-on practical experience in hospitals and the community.

Applicants were put through a rigorous application and assessment process.

Debbie Reape, interim executive director of nursing at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “Like every NHS organisation in the country, we continue to face real recruitment pressures and must continually look at innovative ways to secure our future nursing workforce.

“Through this partnership, we will be able to have nurses who share our values and put patients at the heart of everything they do.”

The trust hopes to enrol a second cohort of 10 students onto the programme in September and continue with the initiative.

Professor Pam Dawson, associate dean for strategic workforce planning and development in Northumbria University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Northumbria Healthcare on this innovative new programme.

“This is a new way of educating and training future nurses using a workplace-based coaching model to support their teaching and learning, keeping quality of patient care at the forefront.”