The University of Gloucestershire has announced that it is working with the county’s health service trusts in order to introduce a degree programme in nursing from 2017.
The organisations involved in the project, unveiled earlier this summer, said it was intended to tackle the registered nurse shortage being experienced across Gloucestershire, as well as nationally.
“We can develop a new nursing degree that will provide the county’s health service with new, much needed nurses”
The county needs an estimated 450 new nurses a year to keep up with demand and the trusts serving Gloucestershire are reporting significant challenges in attracting and retaining nursing staff.
The project is being led by the university in partnership with Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust and Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group.
The new BSc honours degree in nursing will “build” on the university’s existing higher education programmes in health and care, it said.
It already provides training for nursing in non-medical prescribing and returning to practice, and also a higher education apprenticeship programme in healthcare assistants.
Additionally, the university said the new degree would “expand and complement” the existing nursing degree training offered in the county by the University of the West of England.
Stephen Marston, vice-chancellor of Gloucestershire University, said: “Given the challenges faced by our local health service in recruiting sufficient nurses to meet the needs of the county, introducing a BSc in Nursing programme is the logical next step.
“We already work closely with NHS trusts in Gloucestershire,” he said. “By working in partnership with them, we can develop a new nursing degree that will provide the county’s health service with new, much needed nurses, while also providing new opportunities for local people to train to become nurses.”
Maggie Arnold, director of nursing at Gloucestershire Hospitals, said: “This is an exciting and encouraging opportunity particularly for the young people of Gloucestershire who in the future could be offered the chance of studying and training locally with the prospect of full-time employment and a career in healthcare at one of our two hospitals in Gloucester and Cheltenham.
“The national shortage of key healthcare professionals has been well documented,” she said. “This development has the potential to help address some of these issues. It also demonstrates our continued commitment to high quality patient care.”
Marie Crofts, director of quality at 2gether foundation trust, added that she supported the “goal of having nurses trained and living locally”.
Richard Graham, Conservative MP for Gloucester, has also backed the move. “This is very exciting news,” he said.