Nurses and healthcare students in the UK are set to benefit from expanded virtual training and the launch of a new national critical care qualification for qualified nurses.
Universities will receive up to £15m to allow for the rapid expansion of simulated learning, and £10m will go towards the new, nationally recognised critical care qualification that will boost the qualified workforce.
The investment in simulated training comes after the Nursing and Midwifery Council announced that up to 300 of the 2,300 clinical practice hours nurses need to complete during their degree can now be completed in simulated environments, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister for Care Helen Whately said: “We are committed to training more nurses for the NHS and supporting professional development, and this £25 million investment will provide more innovative training opportunities for nurses.
“Whilst there is no substitute for face-to-face training on wards, simulated training is a vital part of the curriculum and provides a safe space for students to develop their skills. Thanks to our investment, more nursing and other healthcare students will be able to benefit from the latest innovations and new technologies to better support their learning at this time.
“The funding will also recognise our critical care nurses, who have played a crucial role during this pandemic, with a new nationally recognised qualification.”
Investing in healthcare training
The £15m will be invested in new simulated training facilities and technology, including the use of virtual reality (VR), manikins, role play, and the use of smartphones, tablets, and computers, that will help nursing students practice clinical skills in a safe environment.
This will allow students to train themselves on clinical procedures and simulate a realistic clinical setting with the support from experienced colleagues.
The remaining £10m will go towards the development of a new qualification for qualified nurses, which will be rolled out for immediate use during the pandemic to help boost the number of people able to work in critical care. Allied Health professions will also be able to access this course.
Professor Mark Radford, Chief Nurse, Health Education England said: “We welcome this support on simulation hours from the NMC in support of students, which will build on universities’ existing expertise in the education of healthcare workers for the NHS and social care. During the COVID pandemic, we recognise and very much value the massive contribution of our students and universities, along with all NHS staff. This further investment will directly support students to further their studies and qualify.
“Working with critical care organisations, we have rapidly designed new innovative education options to provide additional support to the NHS. It’s vital that we look for as many diverse and flexible routes into training as possible, and this announcement will help make the most of the technology available to support nurses on that journey.”