A new hospital-based school of nursing – the first for nearly 20 years – could be set up in Birmingham by 2011.
The Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust is in preliminary negotiations with the government, NHS West Midlands, Birmingham University and the NMC over the possibility of establishing its own school of nursing.
Mandie Sunderland, chief nurse at the trust, told Nursing Times that the organisation was keen to take its first intake of student nurses in 2011, the year nursing moves to an all-degree entry-level profession.
‘Although the discussions are exploratory at this stage, this is something that we wish to move on more quickly,’ she said. ‘We hope to be the first hospital in the UK to bring nurse education back in-house.’
Hospital-based nursing schools were abolished in 1986 when the then Conservative government launched Project 2000 – developed by the NMC’s predecessor the UKCC – and moved nurse education into universities and other higher education institutions.
The aim of the project was to change nurse education from a system that merely responded to NHS workforce requirements to one that would expose its students to the effects of mainstream higher education – though at the time many nurses questioned whether this was necessary.
As well as reversing this policy on pre-registration training, Heart of England wants to introduce several other post-registration initiatives as part of developing a brand image for its nursing staff.
The trust also has plans to launch a faculty of nursing later this year which will offer specialist post-registration courses in renal and infectious disease specialties.
And it aims in future to try and establish a ‘finishing school’ for newly-qualified nurses. This would involve a year-long programme that would be offered to 50 new nurses each year, with the aim of giving them intensive mentorship and preceptorship, and ward management training.
Ms Sunderland said that nurses from around the country would be able to apply to the programme and that if they completed it successfully they would be guaranteed a job at the trust.
‘We want to make sure newly qualified nurses are fit for nursing,’ she said.