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Along with many other areas of the country, Somerset is experiencing difficulties recruiting enough nurses for our health and care services. Health and care services in Somerset want to change this and earlier this year they commissioned RSM Consulting to carry out research to help them understand how they can do this.

A few months ago they asked the people of Somerset to let them know if they were interested in careers in nursing and what issues need to be thought about to make the training accessible to all. Nearly 500 people responded to their survey to give their views and a series of five focus groups were also held in Taunton and Yeovil.

Health and care services will use the information from the research to make it easier for people to train as nurses in the county. By working with education providers they hope to offer a locally available nursing degree programme to Somerset residents in the near future.

Helen Stapleton, Somerset STP Workforce Programme Lead said: “We are delighted that so many people took the time to give us their views. The findings clearly show that there is a strong interest in training to become a registered nurse or midwife in Somerset. This interest is very strong among people in their 20s and 30s, many of whom already work in other roles in health and care services.

“This is great news but we know that there are many factors which make a difference to people actually being able to train. People in Somerset told us that the three most important things which affect their ability to pursue a career in nursing or midwifery are:

  • Being able to access a local training base, for example in Taunton, Bridgwater or Yeovil, so that they don’t have to leave home to go to university to study
  • Being able to earn or receive some type of financial support while they are studying so they can support themselves and their families
  • Being able to access flexible training options such as term time or part time study, online or mobile learning to help them manage the balance between work, study, home and personal commitments.”

Jo Howarth, Deputy Chief Nurse, Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is wonderful to see that there is so much interest in nursing and midwifery in Somerset. The data from the survey and the findings from our focus groups are really important in helping us to shape our plans. 

“Senior nurses from across the NHS in Somerset are now working with colleagues in general practice, social care and others in an exciting partnership with Bridgwater and Taunton College with the aim of bringing a new nurse training programme to Somerset.

 This work includes: 

  • Talking to colleagues in the higher education sector and the Nursing and Midwifery Council about the logistics of getting a local programme approved
  • Joining the national call for a return to financial support for nurse training
  • Exploring ways of offering flexible options for training, such as nursing degree apprenticeships and top up programmes for current nurse associates, and how new technology could help us deliver a high quality learning experience for people across the county
  • Working together to provide good local student placement experiences across a wider range of health and care settings.

“Our ambition is to offer local nursing and midwifery training which is tailored to meet the needs of people in Somerset. This won’t happen overnight but we are committed to making nursing and midwifery training more accessible to our people. We will keep you updated on our progress.”