Yes, the NHS does need more nurses

The shortage of NHS nursing staff is a topic never far from the news. The number of nurses is currently falling against population growth, and figures released by the NHS in 2017 revealed that over 85 per cent of vacancies remained unfilled across the South West.

One reason is the ageing profile of nurses, with the NHS losing large numbers to retirement each year. This is across both acute and community nursing – and the outlook suggests that a further third of practice nurses are set to retire by 2023. Add to the mix the sharp rise of staff leaving the profession early, plus the 96 per cent reduction in EU nurses joining the UK register since 2016, and we see a worrying picture before us.

Education and training is an area always in the spotlight when it comes to addressing NHS staffing issues. And while traditional nursing degrees have gone through significant changes in recent years, alternative routes are now beginning to attract some serious attention – including Higher and Degree Apprenticeships.

The NHS is brimming with healthcare staff who despite being dedicated, experienced and efficient, lack the qualifications for registered nursing and beyond. Bringing universities, colleges and employers together, nursing apprenticeships offer a way for individuals to progress their career whilst applying new theory and skills to the workplace.

As well as Registered Nursing apprenticeships, there’s an important new addition to the national scene. Health Education England (HEE) is currently piloting a new Nursing Associate role, designed to support registered nurses in the frontline care of patients. A new foundation degree apprenticeship allows healthcare staff to progress to Nursing Associate, with the potential to continue on to a Registered Nurse programme, delivered to the same academic standard as the traditional degree. It offers the NHS an opportunity to retain talent and expand skillsets to help meet the shortfall.

Supported by the European Social Fund, the University of Plymouth offers both the Nursing Associate and Registered Nurse apprenticeships, as well as a masters-level qualification that offers specialist advanced training. We are building on our strong track record in healthcare training, and our close relationship with healthcare partners, to provide an opportunity for nursing staff at any level to progress in their career whilst remaining in employment. This truly creates a win-win for employers, employees and patients, and hopefully a brighter future for the healthcare system.

Strategic Employer Engagement and Hidden Talent

The Strategic Employer Engagement (SEE) and Hidden Talent projects provide opportunities to unlock unrealised potential through improving access to higher education for businesses and individuals across Devon and Somerset.

Supported by the European Social Fund, the projects bring together educational partners across the region to deliver outreach, engagement and skills development activities to promote and encourage participation in higher-level skills, regardless of ability or education level.

First choice for health

The University offers the largest range of healthcare study options in the South West. Your learning experience will be enhanced by our state-of-the-art clinical facilities, joined up working and real life placement opportunities across the region.

Join us – become a healthcare professional of the future