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New route into nursing for healthcare support staff


Healthcare assistants are to be offered a route into nursing through part-time degrees, under plans revealed by Health Education England.

The new £4.9bn education and training quango has announced a major investment in the training of NHS staff working in bands 1-4 of Agenda for Change. This will include re-opening career routes into nursing and medicine for staff through in-service training and part-time degrees, which could be up and running by September 2014.

HEE highlighted that bands 1-4 make up 40% of the NHS workforce and deliver around 60% of the patient contact, but receive only 5% of the education and training budget.

Nursing Times understands the move by HEE is a bid to reverse a trend that has seen such routes closed to support staff due to the requirement to study full-time.

Stephen Welfare, managing director of the East of England Local Education and Training Board and national lead for the new HEE strategy, said: “We need to find a way of increasing the numbers back again.”

He said support staff that progressed into a professional career tended to be local and more loyal to the trust they worked for and were less likely to drop-out of the training course, as well as already possessing a detailed knowledge of the NHS and providing patient care.

The strategy will also see the roll-out of national minimum training standards for all workers, not just healthcare assistants. The independent sector will also be included.

New clinical roles such as midwifery support workers, which have already been used in some parts of the country, will also be developed as part of national plans to develop the workforce. HEE will also push for a greater emphasis on continuing professional development within bands 1-4.

Mr Welfare added: “I don’t think it’s possible for us to talk about safe staffing levels if we don’t also have properly trained clinical support workers.”

He said significantly investing in bands 1-4 “would build trust and confidence in the group”, adding: “We need to make sure we invest more and that this group is given the priority that they deserve.”

Bands 1-4 include healthcare assistants, porters, domestic support workers and a range of non-clinical jobs such as finance assistants, receptionists and medical secretaries. Staff working in these bands earn between £14,294 and £22,016, based on pay rates effective from 1 April this year.


Readers' comments (9)

  • part time degree? what, they will be working and studying at the same time. why not just second them onto nurse training, scrap the degree only course and let good, efficient, caring, compassionate people actually be able to train as nurses.

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  • what salary will a HCA earn if they are working and doing a part time degree? how many hours a week will they be in college or on placement?

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  • Mr Welfare?

    Oh, My!

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  • This is nothing new, the Open University has run a Pre-Reg Nursing Programme for a number of years for HCAs. It is a national programme covering the whole of the UK including Ulster. HCAs study and work, paid at Band 2 or 3, the fees are covered by HEE. The programme is now a BSc Nursing for either Adult or Mental Health.

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  • Fab news! This is were we should be looking to recruit student nurses, there are fab hca's with all the knowledge of patient care and the NHS already on our wards yet we want to put potential students on the wards for a few months then send them of to do a 3/4 year degree. Why not make the most of the training we've already given to support staff. Scrap the full time degree course.

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  • The OU have been offering part time degree courses in a multitude of disciplines, from the sciences through to english literature, since the late 60's, requiring no formal entrance qualifications as they provided foundation modules. My first degree was obtained through them whilst working full time, on my normal salary, and being father to a new baby. There is nothing new under the sun.

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  • of course this is nothing new but I guess it may look good on his cv.

    he must think he is on a absolute winner with this, keep the HCA working part-time, pack them off to uni for a couple of years and then misguidely (is that a real word) think they will stay working at your Turst out of loyalty.

    who is funding the uni course and how long will the HCA/Student be expected to work at that Trust post qualifying, what happens if they leave midway through the training?

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  • This is great news - we need opportunities for staff who have already completed level 3 Diplomas to be able to progress onto the degree courses without being required to go back to basics. Access courses do not fulfill this groups need rather they need transition modules that provide the top-up to attaining the CAT points for entry. This can be done through accredited learning that uses appropriate assessment methodologies that reflect work situational learning

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  • This is brilliant!!!
    How do i find out more info.
    I currently work as an HCA and want to progress to RN.

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