Over 100 Nursing Associate positions – a new role created by the NHS to bridge the gap between a Healthcare Assistant and a registered nurse – are set to be filled when the first cohort of healthcare assistants from RCHT begin their two-year Apprenticeship at Truro and Penwith College in June.
The higher-level Apprenticeship is a foundation degree qualification awarded by the University of Greenwich, allowing learners to study a programme from one of the leading nursing universities in the UK without leaving Cornwall, and fulfilling the need for more nurses on the frontline of Cornwall’s NHS. The aim of the new programme is that it will provide career pathways and a sustainable workforce in Cornwall.
Truro and Penwith College is the first and only non-university to join the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) list of approved education providers. As well as this allowing the creation of new courses, the College will invest in a new state-of-the-art hospital simulation suite at Truro College, with a £100,000 grant coming from the University of Greenwich to expand and develop the healthcare partnership in the future.
The College’s Director of Partnerships, Teaching and Learning Andy Stittle said:
“With this partnership with the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Greenwich, the College is now in a position to offer higher-level degree Apprenticeships locally in Truro to meet the workforce need in nursing related careers.”
Kim O’ Keeffe, Joint Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions at RCHT and CFT, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the outstanding team at Truro and Penwith College. Nursing Associates are a vital part of the nursing team in both health and social care settings and so developing their role is an exciting step forward for us here in Cornwall.
“Increasing opportunities to ‘earn while you learn’ releases the potential of local people, particularly the young, to commence fulfilling careers in both health and social care.”
Professor Karen Cleaver, Head of School Health Sciences at Greenwich University, added: "This is a really exciting move as we look to grow more links between the university and great colleges such as Truro and Penwith. The partnership means that the nursing workforce in Cornwall will expand.
“The nursing associate role provides a key progression route into graduate level nursing; the collaboration between the College and the University means that we can help deliver a new generation of the highest quality frontline nurses, something we are all incredibly proud to be a part of."
The NMC report confirming the qualification approval highlighted the College’s focus on its students, the enthusiasm of staff, commitment to the programme, innovative approaches to learning and the work being done to tackle a local skills shortage as reasons for awarding the endorsement.
Tutors delivering the training all possess extensive nursing experience and many continue as registered nurses within the NHS along-side their teaching careers.
Students on the Nursing Associate Level 5 qualification will be joined in September by a third cohort studying another new healthcare qualification in Cornwall, the two-year Level 3 Senior Healthcare Support Worker Apprenticeship. The College has already started delivering this programme to 20 members of staff currently working at RCHT.
This programme is available for those with no previous experience as an opportunity to start their careers in one of five specialist areas; adult nursing, maternity, children and young people, mental health, theatre support or allied health professions.
The College’s ESF RISE project is providing funded support to help the nurses develop their study skills ahead of starting the course.
The new qualifications mark the start of a considerable investment in the skills and development of Cornwall’s healthcare workforce.
“The nursing associates programme is only the start and last month our partnership secured £100,000 through a competitive process from Health Education England to start delivery of the Operating Department Practitioner Apprenticeship in 2021.
“The range of courses now available provide fully local and well-designed pathways which provide opportunities for college leavers, existing employees in health and those seeking a career change” added Andy Stittle.
The College is also developing level 6 programmes (equivalent to a BSc Hons degree) with RCHT and the University of Greenwich and plans to offer these before the first group of Nursing Associates complete their training. This will provide a direct route that allows learners to work as fully qualified registered nurses.
To find out more about the new healthcare qualifications please contact Truro and Penwith College on 01872 267000 or click here.