A PIONEERING programme that will help transform the nursing and care workforce of the future is being launched at Airedale Hospital.

Once qualified, ‘nursing associates’ will be able to support registered nurses with a range of duties, including administering medicines and care planning.

The first seven trainees have joined Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, which is one of just 11 ‘test sites’ nationally chosen to provide the initial wave of training.

The two-year programme will include a mixture of ward-based learning and academic study at Bradford University, with support from onsite clinical tutors.

Trainees will be based at the Steeton hospital’s neonatal and acute medical units and on the elderly care and stroke wards.

A number of those taking part in the project were already employed by the hospital as health care support workers and are now seeking to further their careers.

Among them is Nicole Crabtree, 28, who has worked on the children’s ward for the past eight years as a senior health care support worker and has also been a play leader in the emergency department.

“I am very excited about this new course,” she said.

“I’ve done some training every year since I came to the hospital and I have always wanted to progress and develop – so, when this came up, the timing was perfect.”

Also undertaking the training is 42-year-old Helen Coates, who has been a health care support worker at the hospital for four years.

She has a particular interest in dementia care and has also been a member of Dementia Friendly Keighley for two years.

“This training just seemed a natural progression for me and was a step up,” she said.

“I love my job but I want to move further in the role and I’m really looking forward to the studying and the academic side of the course.”

Jill Asbury, interim director of nursing at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said she was delighted to welcome the trainees to the programme.

She said the course gave them an “exciting opportunity” to progress their careers.

“It will develop their knowledge and clinical skills to support and complement their nurse-led teams,” she added.

“This is part of our future plan to continually modernise and transform our workforce to meet the needs of our patients and provide a team of staff that can offer excellent, compassionate care. As these trainees are in the first wave, we are also in a unique position to work with them to develop the programme for the future.”

Nationally, more than 1,000 nursing associates will begin training this year.