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Virtual nurse training prioritised in funding boost



The Government has promised virtual training for healthcare students including nurses will be ‘rapidly expanded’ as part of a £25m funding boost.

It announced yesterday that up to an extra £15m will be made available to universities for simulated training – allowing students to reproduce clinical procedures and settings through virtual reality, manikins, role play and smart phones, tablets or computers.

Dr Katerina Kolyva, executive director of the Council of Deans of Health, said the investment will go ‘some way’ to providing the ‘expensive’ technology needed for simulated learning, which has increased because of pressure on placement capacity during the pandemic.

She added that continued investment in ‘infrastructure and staffing would allow the nation to educate more nurses, midwives and allied health professionals for the health and social care sector’.

The Department of Health and Social Care added that the cash would help ease pressure on clinical placement capacity across the NHS and social care during the pandemic.

The funding comes after the NMC announced in February that up to 300 of 2,300 clinical practice hours for student nurses can take place in simulated environments where conventional clinical practice is not possible during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A new national critical care qualification for qualified nurses and some allied health professionals has also been launched, backed by an extra £10m. This will be rolled out immediately to help boost the number of people able to work in critical care during the pandemic.

Health Education England chief nurse Professor Mark Radford said: ‘We welcome this support on simulation hours from the NMC in support of students, which will build on universities’ existing expertise in the education of healthcare workers for the NHS and social care.

‘During the Covid pandemic, we recognise and very much value the massive contribution of our students and universities, along with all NHS staff. This further investment will directly support students to further their studies and qualify.’

Minister for care Helen Whately said: ‘Whilst there is no substitute for face-to-face training on wards, simulated training is a vital part of the curriculum and provides a safe space for students to develop their skills.’