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Growing school of nursing to remedy workforce gap

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Published on 11 April 2017

Sunderland School of Nursing students with a PCPI participant
Sunderland School of Nursing students with a PCPI participant

Sunderland School of Nursing is to grow after receiving formal accreditation from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to work with three new partner Health Trusts.

The University of Sunderland launched its BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing Practice Programme in April 2016, in collaboration with Sunderland and South Tyneside Foundation Trusts; after extending its partners to five it now has the go-head to expand its numbers and facilities.

The first cohort of students is already progressing well, with students studying for the pre-registration adult nursing qualification benefiting from excellent facilities and teaching. These include the pioneering new Living Lab complete with mock hospital ward and high-tech simulation equipment - mapping the patient journey from home to pharmacy, GP practice to hospital and back again.

Just weeks after opening the University began talks with three additional Health Trusts: County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust; North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust; and Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust. All three Health Trusts are now on-board and the Sunderland School of Nursing students will spend half of their time on placement in a hospital or healthcare setting with their host Health Trust – applying their class-based learning. 

The next cohort, starting on 24 April, will be based in the existing Sciences Complex but by the autumn intake in August this year the School of Nursing will have extended. The University is investing close to £3.5m into refurbishing Shackleton House on its City Campus for its growing School of Nursing. The site is close to the Sciences Complex and Living Lab, with its high-fidelity simulation equipment and two mock wards.

Simone Bedford, Principal Lecturer in Nursing at the University of Sunderland, said: “After several meetings we were delighted when all the Health Trusts came on board and said ‘we really like your programme and can see the benefits of having home-grown nurses to fill the workforce gap.’”

The University of Sunderland received approval from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to increase its intake and work with the larger number of Health Trusts following an inspection visit to assess its course, facilities and the student experience.

Simone added: “The NMC representative came to assess our BSc Adult Nursing provision and she met with our PCPIs [public carer, public involvement team - a group of services users and carers], with the students and with the partner Health Trusts.

On its website the NMC states: “Quality assurance (QA) is our process for making sure that all our approved education programmes reach the required standard to protect and maintain public safety. A programme cannot run until our approval process has confirmed that the standards have been met.”

Sue Brent, Head of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences added: “We’re really excited about this growth in our Sunderland School of Nursing, we’re delivering excellent teaching in excellent facilities, so our ambition to improve patient care in the region is really gaining momentum now, that’s our driver and we are committed to that. The fact that we now have five Health Trusts working with us reinforces that we are doing a good job and that’s why we can invest further in our staff and facilities.

“The content of the University’s BSc Adult Nursing Programme was developed in collaboration with the regional Health Trusts who wanted to grow their own workforce. It’s a really good place to be. We have the highest levels of teaching, we’re exceeding the standards, we have industry-standard facilities and equipment here at Sunderland; and we are training the next workforce.”

Anyone with the right qualifications interested in becoming a nurse can contact the University’s recruitment team for more information by emailing student.recruitment@sunderland.ac.uk

Sunderland School of Nursing Developments

New staff are being appointed to increase the capacity in the School of Nursing’s teaching team and in the support available to students during the 50% of their time spent on placement with the Health Trusts.

The redeveloped Shackleton House will include two mock wards, assessment suites, a mock Patient Transfer Suite and an industry-standard Positive Pressure Isolation Room.

Simone continued: “We’re very excited about the Positive Pressure Isolation Room, which will give the students experience of dealing with isolation and enable simulation of, for example, someone with TB – where positive pressure isolation will prevent the potentially contaminated air from circulating. Alternatively for someone who is immune-compromised the positive pressure room will keep them in a clean environment.”

Upon entering the new Sunderland School of Nursing in Shackleton House, students will encounter a mock Patient Transfer Suite and there will be a functioning ambulance parked outside so Paramedic Practice students can experience working within the confines of an ambulance and moving patients into the Patient Transfer Suite.  

On the second floor there will be a Point of Care area and a multi-functional space with dividing walls and rooms of various sizes for a variety of uses, including objective structured clinical examination (OSCE).

Simone concluded: “We were one of the first Universities to go down the non-commissioned nursing route and in under a year we’re unique in the number of partners we now have. So it’s brilliant for the area, and for the students who will have more choice on where to do their placement and who will benefit from a broader network of colleagues they have trained with, who they will undoubtedly encounter through their career.

“It’s a challenging course but we want them to have the knowledge that goes with the skills, our students can now see the benefit of being pushed and challenged. The new breed of nurses are training to be knowledgeable doers. We’re at the next level now, where nurses have the extensive knowledge to question why they are doing something and to make informed decisions.”

PCPIs – patient, carer and public involvement

The University of Sunderland has received many commendations and endorsements for its team of PCPIs – patient carer, public involvement participants – which is essentially a team of service users, carers and members of the public. Lesley Scott, academic lead for PCPI participation started the programme initially with about 20 PCPI participants on her books, however, this number has grown to over 100, with a rolling programme of recruitment and more participants joining on a regular basis.

PCPI participants support the development of programmes with the NHS Trusts, they take part in teaching sessions, in assessments – including practical exams where patients have a section on the assessment just for them, so they can give their view on whether the student has communicated effectively, was compassionate, and their scores are equally as important as the technical side. The PCPI participants are important for gathering feedback from service users on the students’ performance – and the students get a real taste for how it will be when they go out into practice. Additionally, patients are reassured that training is being developed with them at the heart of the development.

Lesley Scott said: “Within our Faculty, we are very proud of our PCPI participants, and value their input across all health-related courses. The PCPI participants are highly respected by both staff and students alike. Our model of partnership working, with the PCPI participants at the centre of education, is invaluable.

“They’re part of interview and selection days and their input can tip the balance – because we need to ensure that candidates’ values and beliefs align to those in the NHS constitution – so we are recruiting candidates with the right attitude and personality to succeed in a nursing career.”