New types of nursing roles that overlap more closely with physiotherapy and pharmacy work should be developed to meet the changing needs of healthcare sector employers, the chief executive of England’s official workforce planning body has claimed.
Health Education England chief executive Ian Cumming said he wanted to see new professions, including nurse pharmacists and nurse therapists, created in the future because some parts of the health system would “bite your arm off” to employ these workers.
However, the chief executive warned that NHS England would have to demonstrate its commitment to commissioning services that guarantied a certain number of these new jobs before HEE could fund training places.
“I know from talking to people that new roles, such as nurse therapists are something that some parts of the system are asking for”
Speaking at HEE’s board meeting yesterday – where the body’s national workforce plan for England in 2015-16 was agreed – Mr Cumming spoke about his intentions for workforce planning beyond next year.
“I want to see new roles,” he said. “I believe and I know from talking to people out there that new roles, such as nurse therapists – these could be registered nurses who are also qualified in physiotherapy or occupational therapy – are something that some parts of the system are asking for.”
He added: “A nurse pharmacist is another role that’s been talked about before. I know that Boots the pharmacist would bite your arm off for that sort of role.
“But we need to make sure before we start training people that we’ve got the output,” he said.
He referred to previous problems around training other relatively new roles, such as physician associates, saying that employers were initially slow to provide enough jobs for the amount of trainees.
Mr Cumming added that in the future he also wanted to see an increase in the number of training places for healthcare support workers who wanted to complete part-time or long-distance degree programmes in nursing.
He said: “Last year we commissioned quite a significant expansion in commissioned places with the Open University, which means we have been able to take quite a large number of healthcare support workers onto degree programmes leading them to be registered nurses – but while they are working.
“We need to expand this - as an option, not as the only route,” he told the meeting.