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Trusts hope to grow their own nurses

Three NHS trusts in the east of England have joined forces to launch a new pathway to help healthcare assistants (HCAs) train to become registered nurses.

Three NHS trusts in the east of England have joined forces to launch a new pathway to help healthcare assistants (HCAs) and social care assistants train to become registered nurses.


Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, Norfolk. Picture: Alamy

The scheme is a joint venture between the Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (QEH) in King’s Lynn, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.

A total of 25 people have been given the opportunity to continue in their existing roles, while they study one day a week to become an assistant practitioner.

Further choices

On completion of the 18-month course, the then band 4 staff will have the choice to go on to complete a nursing degree apprenticeship top up course at the University of Suffolk or remain at that grade.

The university course is yet to be approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, but should it be, the assistant practitioner will be able to train over a two and half year period to become a registered nurse.

QEH chief nurse Emma Hardwick said of the new scheme being backed by her trust: ‘For some people, financial and family commitments may put university out of their reach. But the apprenticeship scheme will change that, and open up a host of new opportunities for our learners.

‘Grow Your Own is a key component in our nurse recruitment strategy by helping to develop the staff who are already committed to the trust, along with highlighting the merits of nursing in King’s Lynn to young people and students who are spending their placement here.’

Lectures and learning

During their training, the 25 staff training to be assistant practitioners will experience 15 days on placement at different departments at the three partner organisations. Lectures in a range of subjects will be held one day a week at the QEH.

The England-wide nursing degree apprenticeship was announced last Autumn by health secretary Jeremy Hunt as a scheme to encourage HCAs to become nurses.

Once established, the government estimates that 1,000 a year will train via the nursing degree apprenticeship route. Yet a Nursing Standard investigation revealed only Anglia Ruskin University was set to run the programme from this September.


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