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IN-DEPTH: WORKFORCE


FIT FOR THE FUTURE


A WORKFORCE


How nursing associates and physician associates will enhance our care.


T


he coming years will see an increased focus on preventing disease and maximising health, as our population ages. One of the NHS’s biggest challenges is


ensuring we have enough staff with the right skills to meet the changing needs of our patients.


Nursing associates and physician associates are two examples of emerging new roles which are responding to changing needs and offer more flexible routes into clinical professions.


MORE REGISTERED CLINICIANS The nursing associate is a new support role that sits alongside existing healthcare support workers and registered nurses. “Nursing associates undertake a two-year training programme and, like nurses, are registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC),” explains


Cresteta Nabban-Brown, nursing associate in training


Sinead O’Neill, senior nurse for workforce, revalidation and regulation. “For patients, having nursing associates on our wards will mean more registered professionals to care for them.” Nursing associates are trained to work with people of all ages and across a range of clinical settings. “With their skills and training, nursing associates will do tasks such as administering medicines and recording clinical observations, enabling registered nurses to focus on more complex clinical care.” Nursing associates are employed while they train and the qualification can be a stepping stone to becoming a registered nurse.


“It’s given me the opportunity to progress in my career whilst also having the ability to earn money for my family,”


says Cresteta Nabban-Brown, a trainee nursing associate working in the renal planned investigation unit. “I enjoy most the patient interaction; nurses face increased pressure and workload and we can help with that, reducing patient waiting time and improving patients’ experience.”


PART OF THE TEAM


Chipo Mushonga is one of the Trust’s first three physician associates – professionals with a general medical education who work alongside doctors and surgeons providing medical care as part of a multidisciplinary team. Her role in children’s surgery involves reviewing patients on the wards and assisting in theatres, audits, and outpatient clinics. Physician associates can carry out a wide range of tasks from taking medical histories and carrying out physical exams through to interpreting diagnostic tests and delivering management plans. “We are given more responsibility as we become more experienced but we always remain under the supervision of senior doctors,” explains Chipo. While trainee doctors and surgeons rotate through different specialties, physician associates can train and remain in the same department. “I offer continuity of care which is really appreciated by the patients and the rest of the surgical team,” says Chipo. Consultant paediatric surgeon Mr Nic Alexander is Chipo’s supervisor and welcomes the new role: “It’s new and exciting, and offers an opportunity to change and challenge traditional ways of working. Chipo has immersed herself into children’s services and is proving invaluable as she grows into her role, providing continuity, enthusiasm and drive for delivering exceptional patient care.”


FOR MORE INFORMATION


About nursing associates, please contact Sinead O’Neill (sinead.o’neill1@nhs.net). Please direct questions about physician associates to Ian Bateman (ian.bateman@nhs.net).


12 /Trust www.imperial.nhs.uk


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