Health Education England is planning a second phase of pilots for the controversial scheme to make aspiring nurses work as healthcare assistants before starting their training, Nursing Times has learnt.
The scheme formed a central part of the government’s initial response to the Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust back in March.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt proposed all aspiring nurses should complete a full year working as a HCA before they could be considered for entry onto an NHS funded course.
Health Education England was asked to trial the scheme and set out strict criteria for the first six pilots, which were up and running by September.
However, Nursing Times understands the second phase will be a lot more flexible. For example, potential nursing students could be required to work for periods of three or six months rather than a full year.
Many in the profession have argued a year is too long and therefore the softening of the criteria for the new pilots is likely to be welcomed.
The proposed second phase was due to be discussed at a meeting of the pre-nursing experience steering group earlier this week.
A spokesman for Health Education England said: “Planning and implementation of the existing pre-nursing experience pilots has been very successful and a second phase would allow us the opportunity to explore and evaluate similar and alternative channels for aspiring nurses to gain experience and over a shorter period.”
About 180 potential student nurses were recruited to the first wave of pilots that started in September.
Nursing Times has previously reported on pilots in the areas covered by the East of England, East Midlands and North and East Central London local education and training boards.
Other areas tasking part include the West Midlands – where University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust, Birmingham Women’s Hospital and Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust are taking students – the North West and the North East.