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Chief Nursing Office award Simon Cassidy of HEIW for improving student experiences through Covid-19

Simon Cassidy, Head of Placement Experience and Improvement at HEIW has received a Chief Nursing Office Wales Excellence Award. This is for the support he provided trainee nurses throughout Covid-19 and his contribution to the development of several common elements that underpin future nurse programmes.

The pandemic brought unforeseen challenges for nursing students to continue their training in placement settings.

Approximately 6,500 nursing students are enrolled on healthcare programmes in Wales each year. Nursing programmes involve students undertaking practice placements where they need to apply their knowledge to practice.

However, the pandemic threatened this approach and jeopardised students’ opportunity to qualify as nurses on time.

The award recognises Simon’s commitment and work over the past two years to help ensure that this generation of nursing graduates will enter the workforce fit for practice and without delay, helping to ensure that Wales has enough qualifying nurses over the next few years.

His achievements include:

  • co-producing essential practice learning resources
  • developing national placement principles which have been adopted by all universities and placement providers across Wales
  • creating an all-Wales student PACT document, which outlines a series of pledges to reduce students’ anxieties about entry into placements
  • agreeing national position statements on key worker status for nursing students and students’ access to vaccinations
  • implementing an all-Wales safe return student placement passport, which details pre-placement preparation and induction information
  • co-creating a comprehensive set of frequently asked questions, supervision and assessment exemplars and placement blueprints.


Simon also led on national research to evaluate student experience during pandemic conditions. He said: “I am so grateful and immensely proud to receive this award. Thank you to the Chief Nursing Office and to those individuals who nominated me. The work I have been commended for is a product of much collaboration and co-production, and I would like to thank all stakeholders involved for this engagement.”

The Chief Nursing Office Wales Excellence award was presented to Simon by Sue Tranka, Chief Nursing Officer for Wales, at the Chief Nursing Officer Wales Conference programme 2022. The awards presentation can be watched at 2:49:20.