How St Andrew's is tackling the nursing shortage

Ged Rogers, Clinical Education Manager for St Andrew’s Healthcare, has been with the Charity for more than 30 years. Here he shares his thoughts on the current nursing shortage, and what St Andrew’s Healthcare is doing to attract the very best staff to work at the Charity…

“I recently spoke to Stuart Linnell from BBC Radio about the nursing shortage (listen from 2hr 6min), which was good fun; it really made me realise how St Andrew’s approach to the problem is both innovative and inspiring.

“By working in partnership with the University of Northampton, St Andrew’s has developed the ASPIRE programme, which is a fantastic route for Healthcare Assistants to develop themselves into either Learning Disability or Mental Health nurses. We offer our staff pastoral support as well as a £15,000 training bursary (paid via a salary support agreement), and if they have relevant experience or previous qualifications, staff can enter the University of Northampton’s nursing degree programme at year two, bypassing the first year.

“The feedback is just brilliant. We are finding that many Healthcare Assistants who have had long-term aspirations to become nurses are finding their confidence levels growing, and they are now able to realise their potential. As many say, ‘I never thought I could be doing this’.

"To join the degree course, our staff follow a special admission process which involves a joint interview with us and the University. Each person’s application to the course is dependent on them achieving the same standards and knowledge as the University’s other first-year nursing students. Once they start, we closely monitor their progress, offering support and guidance throughout the course.

“The next challenge for us at St Andrew’s Healthcare will be to adapt our present provision into an apprenticeship route so we can support even more staff in achieving their goals. If other organisations can also develop such supportive pathways for staff, perhaps the government’s lofty aim of 21,000 new mental health nurses by 2021 can be achieved.”

To find out more about the ASPIRE programme and becoming a nurse at St Andrew’s, visit the nursing page on our website.