Chief Nursing Officer for England Unveils Fast Track Programme

A new fast track ‘Nurse First’ programme has been announced, with Chief Nursing Officer for England, Professor Jane Cummings, backing the scheme.

The aim of the initiative is to attract high achieving graduates into a career in nursing.

It is already known that the NHS will be treating increasing numbers of people and caring for an ageing population in the coming years.

This will necessitate more complex needs, and thus attracting and keeping staff will become even more important.

With this in mind, the Nurse First programme will create a new postgraduate programme that will fast track high achievers to registered graduate nursing position.

The initiative has been inspired by the Teach First programme.

It is particularly intended to help address workforce capacity and support the development of future nurse leaders in key areas, targeting mental health and learning disabilities in the first instance.

The aforementioned Cummings outlined the ethos behind this new scheme.

“More people are training to join the NHS every year and we remain on target in terms of overall recruitment although there are still gaps in our nursing workforce. As frontline staff and services continue to face pressures from rising demand and more complex care, we know our workforce must continue to grow and adapt if it is to delivering diverse, high quality care to more patients than ever before.”

Cummings also believes that attracting diverse professionals to nursing is essential.

“As a profession, nursing has always greatly benefited from the varied backgrounds and life experience of its staff. It’s vital we continue to attract the best and brightest graduates, offering additional entry routes and career opportunities, so that we can continue to deliver specialist, high quality care to all.”

Claire Murdoch, National Director for Mental Health at NHS England, also believes that the scheme is a positive step for the nursing profession.

“As a registered mental health nurse myself, I am delighted to see that the Nurse First programme will provide more specialist mental health and learning disability nurses. They offer some of most challenging but highly rewarding roles and provide crucial care and support to some of our most vulnerable.”

While Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, also offered her support.

“There is a critical shortage of nurses in the NHS and unsafe staffing levels put high quality patient care at risk. Measures to increase the number of registered nurses are very welcome and the ‘Nurse First’ initiative is a positive way to attract talented graduates. Nursing is a hugely rewarding, complex and responsible profession. It is crucial to focus on retaining nurses who are deciding to leave and offer flexible employment to encourage people to return to nursing in the NHS.”


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