Cygnet has introduced nursing associate foundation apprenticeships in a bid to address the national shortage of registered nurses in the independent sector.

Some 21 support workers from Cygnet are currently studying to become nursing associates through the programme, which was launched by the University of Wolverhampton’s Walsall Campus in March.

Cygnet says the nursing associate role is designed to ‘bridge’ the gap between healthcare support workers and registered nurses, enabling nurses to increasingly take a lead on decisions about patient care and to focus more on clinical duties.

Upon completion of the two-year course, participants will continue to study and work for a further two years before becoming fully registered nurses.

The project follows a successful trial run by Health Education England in the NHS, where pilot schemes have resulted in a commitment to train a further 12,500 nurse associates by 2020.

Mandy Blanchard, head of learning & development at Cygnet, said: ‘The bespoke programme takes the form of an apprenticeship, where the participants work in our hospitals, for a minimum of 30 hours a week and spend one day a week studying and being supported by lecturers from the University of Wolverhampton.’