Six parts of the country are to host pilot sites for the government’s controversial pre-nursing experience policy, it has been announced.
Up to 200 aspirant nurses will be recruited across England to get paid caring experience for up to year as a healthcare assistant before they apply to take up an NHS-funded degree course.
The idea was announced earlier this year by the government as part of its initial response to the Francis Inquiry into the failings at Mid Staffordshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Health Education England, the new training quango that is overseeing the scheme for the government, said this week that the pilots would take place in a range of settings expected to include hospitals, GP practices, health centres and mental health units.
In also announced they would take place in six of its 13 Local Education and Training Boards areas. These are East of England; East Midlands; North Central and East London; North East; North West; and West Midlands.
The pilots will explore the “most appropriate timescale for the scheme, and will be evaluated for the ability to test for values and behaviours and reductions in attrition rates”, HEE said in a statement.
Recruitment for the first cohort began this month, with the pilots starting in September.
HEE director of nursing Dr Lisa Bayliss-Pratt said: “We were pleased with the level of interest we received from partners wanting to be involved in the pilots.”
She added: “We have already had a good response to the recruitment adverts in the West Midlands and North West which is an encouraging start.”
A steering group, chaired by Derby Hospitals Foundation Trust non-executive director and former nurse Sir Stephen Moss, designed the pilots and developed a set of guiding principles at its inaugural event in June.
When it was first announced in March, the plan was heavily criticised by unions and other nursing organisations – though a Nursing Times survey of student nurses suggested they were divided on the idea.
Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter described the policy as having “more holes than a Swiss cheese” and in May the Council of Deans of Health said it would have “potentially serious unintended consequences” for the role of HCAs, student mentorship and patient safety.
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