University Alliance, a collection of universities responsible for training 30% of the nursing workforce in England, has called for nurse training to incorporate simulation to help tackle the NHS workforce crisis.

In its briefing ‘Delivering the Healthcare Workforce of the Future’, the alliance highlights four areas where universities, the NHS and the government can work together to ensure more nurses can be trained quickly to the required high standards.

One of those areas is to fully embrace simulation in nursing training, something that the Nursing and Midwifery Council recently pushed for.

In January of this year, the Nursing and Midwifery Council approved changes to pre-registration education programme standards. This included the use of simulated practice learning. As a result, education institutions can now run innovative simulations for 600 of the 2,300 practice learning hours required by students.

University Alliance sees this as a welcome development and says “simulated training should now be invested in for the long-term”.

The use of simulation during training will help students to build both confidence and skills in medical situations that they may not come across often in practice. Using virtual clinical settings also relieves some of the strain on healthcare settings providing the placements.

The other areas of focus the University Alliance called for were: involving the education sector in long-term NHS workforce planning; reforming placement tariffs for nursing students; and exploring a new model for nursing education.

Vanessa Wilson, University Alliance CEO, said: “Alliance universities are delivering innovative nursing training including the use of cutting edge ‘virtual’ clinical placements, taking pressure off NHS trusts and other clinical placement providers in the process.

“The exciting developments in simulated settings alongside regulatory and funding reforms would enable universities to train larger numbers of competent and confident nurses without compromising on quality.”

Training for medical professionals is increasingly using technological advances. A year ago the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals partnered with GigXR to create interactive holographic simulation training, while Guy’s and St Thomas’ has been training its surgeons of the future using innovative virtual reality (VR) technology.