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Pilots schemes are due to start next month in six LETB areas

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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Readers' comments (10)

  • Never mind the evidence, let's do what Jeremy says.

    Oh dearie me.

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  • I suppose such experience is never wasted but what happens to these prospective nursing students if the pilot schemes fail?

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  • So HEE, a new quango and a steering group have been set up. That's just what we need, isn't it? Another ill advised initiative by desk-bound clueless wonders, soaking up yet more public money and diverting it away from care. I've never mentored a student nurse who hadn't already had care experience. There is no need for this. It is part of the deflection from dealing with the real matters highlighted in the Francis Report. But guess what? Nurses will just soak it up with barely a whimper of opposition.

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  • no! its great students can now get dow to the hard work and larn without doing the paper work or both students lik paperork nurses dont h c a's dont but we hve to do it i worked with two third yer students that quilify soon they said to me i am not ready to be a nurse i said wow! nobody will listen to me or respect me for who i am? i said it is years of experience within care and dont expect things to just drop in your lap you have to earn respect?

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  • Anonymous | 17-Aug-2013 10:19 am

    pardon?!

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  • Peter Carter described the policy as having “more holes than a Swiss cheese”....

    Ha ha ha!!!

    Anonymous | 17-Aug-2013 10:19 am

    WTF are you trying to say??
    I'm so glad to see the standard of the English language is high within the Healthcare world.

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  • So what's new? Talk about reinventing the wheel. When I joined the NHS back in the dark ages ie 1973, it was as a cadet nurse. We worked alongside qualified nurses and students on the wards to gain experience of what it is actually like to work in a hospital. It sorted out whether you were suited to the profession before you committed to the three year training. Once training commenced, students already had experience of how a hospital worked from the bottom to the top. Something sadly lacking these days.

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  • hi all
    I am student nurse at present, I have to agree with this process of doing some sort of care work before entering the course, but is a pilot scheme really needed? why not just initiate it? There are many on the course who don't have a caring bone in their body or a clue on what nursing involves, and yet the NHS is funding their tuition.
    I myself, when fresh out of school, did a cadet nursing programme (2003) and found it very engaging and necessary for me to know what career I was looing in to and what would be needed of me, this course also gave me a NVQ level three in care so helped towards gainful employment even if nursing wasn't or me I could have still been a HCA.
    I have also done some work as a HCA both within hospital and in the community whilst helping my family run a company and found this all helpful in my broad spectrum of learning.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 19-Aug-2013 2:19 pm

    That does seem to be where this came from - it isn't that working as an HCA is necessary 'as a qualification', but more that they believe 'this will filter out some of the nurses who the public think are much too interested in the 'technical stuff' and who seem to think 'basic hands on care is beneath them''.

    Like your cadet scheme, but for different perceived reasons:

    'It sorted out whether you were suited to the profession before you committed to the three year training.'

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  • well, instead of spending money on some student who have not got a clue of what this career field is all about! why don't you just ask for HCA experience as a necessity requirement for entering nursing degree at the first place?

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