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Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust

First self-funded nursing course launched to tackle shortage in NW


A North West trust has partnered with a local university to launch the first degree course to offer student nursing places that are not commissioned centrally by Health Education England.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust helped to design the new University of Bolton course to help address its nursing shortage, with all students accepted onto the programme offered a job at the trust after graduation.

Each year 50 places will be available on the three year course, with students applying through UCAS and self-funding their study via the student loan system.

“We recognised that we have not got sufficient trained nurses in the system and that… is unlikely to change going forward”

Karen Swindley

Karen Swindley, the trust’s workforce and education director, told Nursing Times sister title Health Service Journal that the programme was designed to address workforce pressures caused by higher patient acuity, the national focus on safe staffing after the Francis review, and a high dropout rate among student nurses in the North West.

“We recognised that we have not got sufficient trained nurses in the system and that… is unlikely to change going forward,” she said.

This led the trust to look at “how we could put additionality into the system” beyond those commissioned by HEE.

Although the students on the course will have to pay for their study unlike those funded by HEE, Ms Swindley was confident demand would be strong.

“What we do know is that the demand for places nationally for nursing absolutely outstrips the number of commissioned places that are being provided,” she said.

A cohort of “about 20” will start the course in February, but there are already 160 applications for 25 places for a later cohort in September.

Ms Swindley suggested that self-funding could result in a lower dropout rate compared to commissioned places, and said the trust would seek to retain graduates by developing “a sense of pride and belonging” while acting as the placement partner.

She said the trust had been able to work with the university to tailor the course, with patients helping to develop the course content and select applicants.

While this was the first such programme in the country, Ms Swindley said there had been “considerable interest” in the idea from other providers.

Bolton’s vice chancellor George Holmes said: “Our university is committed to working in partnership to develop innovative career-focused learning programmes and so we are very pleased to be working with such a forward thinking trust.”


Readers' comments (20)

  • high dropout rate among student nurses in the North West.

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  • This is exactly how 95% of all Paramedic university courses operate, and now they are 3 years, and thus BSc (Hons), it's the full £9000 a year, so effectively turning the profession into something only middle class school leavers can realistically apply to, with very few exceptions. I do wonder how much benefit a 3rd year really brings, but in any case, the cost is unfair on many that would otherwise be a useful addition to the service with previous life or work experience.

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  • These few students that undertake this course, are showing the up most commitment to the course. If this is to become prevalent within the profession, what would be the comparison to a nursing student that pays their own fees and those who are funded? will this cause an employment rift. Am baffled also how a University can provide a course for a 20-25 student cohort; can that be cost effective?

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  • I would be interested to know how suitability checks, including a satisfactory DBS statement are carried out using the UCAS system, which is not designed to capture these essential features of an application to train as a Nurse.

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  • @ Anonymous | 8-Jan-2015 7:12 pm:

    Students already apply via UCAS at present (perhaps with certain exceptions, depending upon course/level). That appears to just be a centralised form of admin, with results fed to Unis which then decide on interview. I had to contact DBS myself and request a certain form, fill it in with the Uni/Course info, then DBS send back to you the relevant info, which you copy to uni/pass on number. So, this has nothing to do with UCAS. I cannot see that that would be any different with the N.West scenario.

    In short, UCAS is to apply to uni (in effect they deal with the admin, rather than NMAS, who previously dealt with the Nursing & Midwifery applicants). DBS, same as it was before - successful applicant applies directly, as instructed. Occ Health, successful, applicant compiles evidence and sends info to relevant dept. All separate components of Nursing/Midwif. applications. If anything, going via UCAS feels impersonal because you are lumped with other applications. With NMAS you may feel it is more job-relevant, although that may, in part, be psychological.

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  • I had to read this twice to ensure I had grasped it correctly. So now if you are wealthy enough to pay your own way for the course, you have a guaranteed job at the end of it! We need more nurses - but the government is not willing to pay to train enough and this is the answer they came up with? Perhaps they think that if future nurses can afford to pay for their course, they can afford to be paid well below what they are worth once they qualify - inspired thinking!

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  • I personally from experience, believe this to be an excellent idea which gives individuals the oppurtunity to follow a path in nursing who would previously have been dismissed by the health education for funding due to past living commitments. For example, i had held the correct qualifications to enrol but due to my previous career which entitled me to work outside of Europe, when i returned to England to re-apply for a university course in nursing i faced an uphill battle in which i was declined funding originally due to not living in England 3 years prior to the commence of the course, despite being a british citizen from birth and living the majority of my life in England. i was told that i could only apply to the nursing degree if it was funded by the health education department, i had asked several times to pay for the course myself which was declined as the programs had to have funding in place. this is a course i would have applied to if i had had the chance a few years back.
    i notice that in my current cohort of nursing students that there is a huge drop out rate and it poses the question of "are people applying just because they do not have to pay the tuition fees?" again i think this is excellent!

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  • Laha78

    I find this disgusting quite frankly! And now nurses who pay for their degree are GUARANTEED a post on qualifying as opposed to funded nurses who work just as hard and most of them just as dedicated to the profession will now be bumped to the back of the queue! No wonder this profession is on it's knees! How about the government just gets it's finger out, give nurses the pay rise which is very much owed to them and start showing loyalty to it's existing workers and students!

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  • One of the problems with the current nurse education system and funded places is the number who are accepted, complete the course to get their degree then never work as a nurse
    As they can obtain a degree without much expense

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  • It is my understanding having looked at the Bolton University webpage that the graduates of this course are only 'guaranteed' the opportunity to apply for a band 5 job! They will all have guaranteed HCA jobs during their course!
    The pay a band 5 receives will be the same regardless of whether they have self funded or not! This is now a graduate only profession and the pay terms and conditions are the same for everybody.

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