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New nurse roles in pharmacy and therapy mooted by training chief


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”

Ian Cumming

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.


Readers' comments (10)

  • Now this I find very exciting. Its about time we thought about the development of new clinical roles. Made my day!

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  • Really?! Distinct lack of RN workforce at the bed-side and in people's homes and now a call to overlap with pharmacy and physio. Let's sort out a decent number of RNs firstly, that deliver excellent nursing care to a reasonable number of patients before thinking about hybrid roles that may well be covering deficiencies elsewhere in the system.

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  • And you think pharmacists, physios and OTs will be happy about this. Most hospitals are already employing foreign nurses because there are not enough home grown staff. Why not concentrate on doing a nurses job well. Two lots of training two jobs and what will the salary be? They are already downbanding specialist therapist jobs from 8a down to 6s and 7s. This is just a cynical ploy to get more for less and set professions against each other [very useful if you want to pit profession against profession when negotiating pay rises]

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  • As a registered Occupational Therapist I am dismayed at the lack of respect shown by this speaker for the individual professions of nursing, physiotherapy (and other therapists) and pharmacists. As experts in their fields, their contribution to healthcare is not an 'add on' to another role. Does the speaker think that the development of degree courses in all these specialties has been achieved on a whim? Each has a unique contribution to make and brings a different perspective and ethos to the care they contribute to. Rather than have staff with qualifications that make them a jack of all trades, there should be masters employed who each make a specific and essential contribution.

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  • If we pause long enough from planning the next overseas recrutiment process to fill the ever increaisng RN vacancies we have to deliver basic care then we will have time to think about hybrid roles maybe!

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  • Laha78

    Can we just focus on having enough registered nurses to do the basics for patients and making the nurse/patient ratio safe again!!

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  • dunno what your prob is but we did very in depth training in pharmacology which by nature of our work in general medicine have to keep our knowledge up to date as well as step in for physios outside their working hours evenings and weekends for respiratory and mobility physio.

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  • Just another government ploy to get srvices on the cheap

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  • I am a physio.At our hospitals there is 24 hour cover for respiratory emergencies.Most therapy teams work up to 6 pm 7 days aweek and we have a rapid responce therapy team working till 10 pm 7/7. I would love some of the nurses to mobilise my patients more regularly but if you think just walking a patient on the ward is all that physio is about you are being insulting. That would be like saying that the trained nurses of today just do bed pans and washes. We need to show each other professional respect or we will be played off against eac other.

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  • michael stone

    I admit to not being sure what the proposal is - is this a nurse pharmacist (which I would take to be a pharmacist with nursing skills added in), or a pharmacist nurse (reverse of previous - a pharmacist nurse would I think be a nurse with unusual expertise in pharmacy added in), or people with equivalent skills in both nursing and pharmacy ?

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