Breathless pace to signing up new recruits

In the latest of a series of blogs previewing the 2018 CNO Summit, the Director of Nursing at Health Education England looks at the rapid development of routes into nursing and midwifery careers:

Less than a year ago that Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England announced an innovative programme to fast track graduates into nursing.

Just six months later, in September 2017, the first cohort began their two-year training programme. It’s an indication of the almost breathless pace at which the system is working to develop innovative and flexible routes into nursing.

This accelerated nurse programme builds on HEE’s Shape of Caring Review and is just one of the innovative recruitment approaches we’ve been developing; two others I’ll be discussing in my session at the Summit are the Nursing Associate – the first new nursing support role in the NHS for a generation – and the Maternity Support Worker.

Nursing is a brilliant career whatever your route in, as I try to highlight in my series of blogposts on inspirational nurses; and both via new routes and through our work on widening participation, we’ll be ensuring that we are fishing in as large a talent pool as possible. And by encouraging bright, committed people with the right values, whatever their background, to consider nursing as a career, we can help our workforce become more reflective of the populations we serve.

The draft NHS Workforce Plan, Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future is now published and out for consultation. It states that the NHS spends almost 65% of the operational budget on its most valuable asset; our staff. But we have seen a fall in some critical areas including in district nursing and intellectual disability (ID) services. The areas of adult and mental health nursing also need action.

As we move away from the old institutions towards more integrated, community-based services, we need to ensure today’s and tomorrow’s workforce can bring their talents to bear in more services in the community. That is why the first cohort of 40 fast-track graduates has been recruited onto learning disability and mental health nursing career paths.

Andrew is one of these recruits, and his experience demonstrates how varied and flexible routes into nursing can be. Now 28, he graduated in an arts discipline, following this up with an MA in the same subject. However, while considering pursuing a career related to his degree, he took up a post as a healthcare support worker in a community multidisciplinary team, working with patients with learning disabilities. He realised that this was the field he wanted to work in and seized the opportunity offered by the two-year programme.

Andrew was accepted onto the programme as he had relevant clinical experience and had studied at post-graduate level. He now spends approximately 50% of his time in clinical placements in learning disability community services and 50% on the academic side of the programme. He is currently a Band 3 for the first year and Band 4 for his second year, after which he has a guaranteed post in the Trust, so he can earn, work and learn in a way that suits his lifestyle and other commitments.

We recently celebrated the successful completion of year one of our two-year Trainee Nursing Associate (TNA) test site programme, which saw 2,000 people take up places in a variety of settings across England. This year, another 5,000 will be recruited. Many TNAs are healthcare assistants/clinical support workers who previously had no obvious career path or way to progress. Now, if they wish to, once qualified, they can progress to registered nurse and beyond.

Along with HEE senior leaders and other HEE staff, I meet regularly with trainees on visits around the country and it’s been enlightening to hear their different routes to becoming a TNA and so encouraging to see for myself how passionate and committed they are to a nursing career.

The Maternity Support Worker role is another being developed along the same principles as the Nursing Associate role – holistic, patient-centred and working as part of a multi-professional team, but also supported by nationally-defined standards. I am delighted to be chairing a Maternity Support Worker group that is looking at the future education and training needs of people in this role, which is pivotal to delivering the Five Year Forward View Better Births agenda.

I look forward to seeing you all at the 2018 CNO Summit.

  • The 2018 CNO Summit will be held at the Liverpool Arena and Conference Centre on March 7 and 8.
Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt

Lisa was appointed as Chief Nurse at Health Education England (HEE) in 2012 and in this role she is responsible for leading national policy, workforce planning, and multi-professional education and training commissioning for the non-medical healthcare workforce.

Key achievements include delivering transformation of nursing education and training (Raising the Bar), the successful test site programme for the Nursing Associate role, development and piloting of pre-degree care experience for aspirant nurses and leading the ‘return to practice’ initiative.

In 2017, in addition to her Chief Nurse role, Lisa was appointed to the as Interim Regional Director for London and South East. As the Regional Director Lisa is responsible for approximately £1billion of investment in education, training and workforce development across London. Her role also includes providing support to five Sustainability and Transformation Plans within the capital.