The impact of a new nursing role at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) which will make a difference to the lives of patients, carers and healthcare professionals by getting the right nurse next to the right bedside has been applauded at a celebratory event.
The role of the nursing associate, which is set to boost the local NHS workforce and help improve patient care in the east of England, was highlighted at a lunch at the University of Suffolk in Ipswich on Tuesday, 5 March.
Once they are qualified the first cohort of trainees, who started their two-year apprenticeship course at the University of Suffolk at the end of last year, will support and free up registered nurses so they can provide care to patients with more complex needs.
Director of Nursing for Colchester Hospital Melissa Dowdeswell, of ESNEFT and trainee nursing associate partnership lead and trainee nursing associate partnership lead, said: “We have created something that fits what we need and which invests in our students. When we invest in our own workforce it pays dividends and they then want to invest in us as a Trust. We hope by bringing them in they will be highly skilled and they may be able to fill some of our nursing vacancies, improving quality of care and experience.”
A group of eight trainee nursing associates out of the 19 on the course are now working across ESNEFT. They include Clare Ruffell, who already works for the Trust as a healthcare assistant on D’Arcy Ward at Colchester Hospital.
Speaking at the event on Tuesday, 6 March, she said: “The course is teaching me so much about myself and giving us many new skills to develop the ones we already have. The confidence that comes with going to university is also giving me confidence at work.
“I wanted to do the role as I felt I could help the nursing staff on my ward, and this was a good step to becoming a nurse myself. I feel the nursing associates will fill a gap needed in the NHS and help to deliver better care for patients.”
Other speakers on the day included Paul Driscoll-Evans, dean of school of health sciences and the University of Suffolk, Susannah Howard, programme director of Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System (ICS) and Sam Donohue, senior nursing manager – transformation at Health Education England.
She said: “You will really pave the way for the nursing associate role.
“We are recruiting from the community you serve, but also we seem to have recruited trainees with something that’s been lying dormant inside them and who’ve just been waiting for this kind of opportunity.
“You will be like butterflies, you will blossom over the next two years.”
The nursing associate role has been registered through the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Following the completion of their studies, the students could go on to a two-year top up programme to become registered nurses.
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