A major milestone has been reached in an innovative programme which will help transform the nursing and care workforce of the future in South Yorkshire.

Twenty-four students have started the trainee nurse associate course at the University of Sheffield, in partnership with Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Rotherham Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Barnsley Healthcare Federation and Villa Care, Leeds.

The two-year foundation degree is training a group of nurse associates to play a crucial role of filling a gap in skills between current health care assistants and registered nurses. The degree will include a mixture of ward and community based learning across the five organisations in the partnership, academic study at the University of Sheffield and support from clinical tutors at each of the organisations involved.

Once they have completed their course, the nurse associates will be regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and will work alongside both health care assistants and qualified nurses to deliver high quality patient care.

Alison Bielby, Deputy Chief Nurse at Barnsley Hospital, said:

“This programme is really important for Barnsley and for the future care of our patients. It is vital to give a new generation of staff the enhanced education and skills required to deliver safe, hands-on care to all patients. We’re really excited to be working in partnership with other local providers to deliver a wide range of placements for the new trainees, across a number of specialities.”

Tracey Moore at The University of Sheffield, said:

“The Nursing Associate role is a landmark innovation for the nursing and care professions. Working alongside Trust partners, the University of Sheffield’s School of Nursing and Midwifery has developed a two year programme for Trainee Nurse Associates. The programme is a blended approach to learning that provides trainees with the unique opportunity to learn alongside student nurses and all other health care disciplines both in the classroom, simulation centres and across a variety of health care settings. This experience enables them to be a significant part of the multi-disciplinary workforce that is needed to respond to the future needs of the public and patients.”

Dr Mistry, Barnsley Healthcare Federation Chair, said:

“We are pleased and excited to be not only an employer but also a placement provider and to help shape and sculpt the future of the nursing workforce.”

The first Nurse Associates will finish their studies and qualify 2019, after which they will be able to work in local health and social care organisations.