Nursing studies

A partnership approach to pre-registration education in Wales

A new course in South Wales is offering healthcare support workers the chance to undergo nurse training while maintaining their employment with the health board. 

A new course in South Wales is offering healthcare support workers the chance to undergo nurse training while maintaining their employment with the health board

As the shape of the UK nursing workforce changes, partnership working between healthcare providers and educational institutions can offer innovative solutions to the recruitment and retention of staff.

Changes to the nursing workforce and funding arrangements vary across the UK. In England, the nursing associate and apprenticeship routes have been introduced while the bursary for pre-registration nursing and midwifery education has been phased out.

Development challenge

The bursary has been retained in Wales, but as we do not have access to apprenticeship money for nursing and cannot use the nursing associate route, the challenge has been to develop a flexible

...

A new course in South Wales is offering healthcare support workers the chance to undergo nurse training while maintaining their employment with the health board 


The challenge in Wales has been to develop a flexible approach to pre-registration nursing
Picture: iStock

As the shape of the UK nursing workforce changes, partnership working between healthcare providers and educational institutions can offer innovative solutions to the recruitment and retention of staff. 

Changes to the nursing workforce and funding arrangements vary across the UK. In England, the nursing associate and apprenticeship routes have been introduced while the bursary for pre-registration nursing and midwifery education has been phased out. 

Development challenge

The bursary has been retained in Wales, but as we do not have access to apprenticeship money for nursing and cannot use the nursing associate route, the challenge has been to develop a flexible approach to widening access to pre-registration nurse education. 

Through a partnership between universities and local health boards in Wales, healthcare support workers (HCSW) can now undertake pre-registration training over a period of four to six years, while maintaining their employment. 

This approach is linked and mapped to the HCSW framework in Wales to provide progression into pre-registration nurse education. The aims, learning outcomes and assessment methods of the nursing degree remain the same as the full-time route, but with a change to the delivery schedule and timescales for completing the course. 

Distance learning combined with practice learning enables students to work towards their degree and registration while still being employed by the health board, providing continuity and a ‘home base’ model for students. 

Escalator approach

Benefits include a ‘skills escalator’ approach, where a HCSW can see a career pathway through to qualified nurse in their employing organisation. This gives employees a ‘value message’ as they can see that the health board is committed to, and invested in their development. 

For health boards whose patient populations reside largely in rural areas, there are the benefits of building relationships with patients who have long-term conditions as the HCSW stays in employment throughout the length of their pre-registration training. 

Initially planned with Cwm Taf University Health Board, we are now working with multiple health boards in South Wales to offer the course. Three universities in Wales are offering this flexible route, each with an individual approach to meet the needs of local health boards and populations. 

Practice legacy

The value of this enterprise in practice is the legacy of learning it gives to the health board and the flexibility of pathways for the university. For both local health boards and the University of South Wales, this positive partnership experience sends messages to staff and the public that careers can be sought in the communities where they live. 

The first cohort of 30 students will start their course in September.


Nicky Genders is head of school of care sciences at the University of South Wales 

 

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs