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Standards for degree-level apprenticeships to be developed by HEE


Degree-level apprenticeship standards for registered nurses are to be developed by the national workforce planning body, as part of a plans to improve the flexibility of pre-registration education.

The plans are detailed in Health Education England’s response to the Shape of Caring review, a major assessment of nursing education and training that it commissioned.

“[The apprenticeship standard] will widen entry into the care and nursing professions”


The review, which was chaired by Lord Willis of Knaresborough and published last year, made 34 recommendations to “raise the bar” for training the nurse and care assistant workforce.

At a board meeting this week, details of the actions HEE will take in response to the recommendations were approved.

The actions are based around five priorities – to ensure excellence in nursing practice, to value and develop the care assistant workforce and to ensure meaningful patient and public involvement.

The priorities also include providing flexibility in pre-registration education, and ensuring standards for post registration education.

“Our key aim is to ensure that these proposals bring about a real and positive change”


HEE said it would work with the government’s “trailblazer group” – made up of employers and industry representatives – to develop an apprenticeship standard for nurses.

As part of its ongoing work in developing the nursing associate role this year, which will also be trained through an apprenticeship, HEE confirmed it will develop standards for this new support role too.

Board papers indicate the apprenticeship will lead to a qualification at “level 5”, which is equivalent to a foundation degree.

“[The development of the apprenticeship standard] will widen entry into the care and nursing professions… and standardise competencies acquired through the Care Certificate with higher level competencies at level 5 and above,” said the papers.

HEE will also partner with the Nursing and Midwifery Council to review whether pre-registration students should spend more time learning general skills before specialising in a branch of nursing – one of the key recommendations from the Shape of Caring review.

“This is not about ‘dumbing down’ this incredibly flexible workforce, but rather about supporting and developing it”


Another recommendation of the review was a skills passport for care assistants. HEE said it would explore the feasibility of a skills passport of e-portfolio to validate and verify education.

Meanwhile, to strengthen standards of post-registration education, HEE will work with the American Nurses Credentialing Centre to test an English version of Magnet accreditation – a US system which recognises nursing excellence.

Under the current system, which is overseen by American Nurses Association, there are no UK organisations accredited. However, as reported by Nursing Times, there has been growing interest in recent months, with Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust working on an application.

In addition, HEE will develop masterclasses for sisters and charge nurses, and an education and training package for directors of nursing, both on safe staffing.

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, HEE’s director of nursing

Overall, HEE is working on plans to address all 26 recommendations that apply to it from the Shape of Caring review.

It said it would set up a Shape of Caring taskforce to ensure it meets its objectives by April 2018.

“Our key aim is to ensure that these proposals bring about a real and positive change in the opportunities that the care and nursing workforce has to continue developing and improving alongside the very best in the world,” concluded HEE in its report.

“This is not about ‘dumbing down’ this incredibly flexible workforce, but rather about supporting and developing it from top to bottom and bottom to top – aptly referred to as ‘raising the bar’,” it added.


Readers' comments (2)

  • How does the introduction of a band 4 associate role who will essentially do the job of an RN 'raise the bar'?

    How does taking nursing education away from universities and putting it in the hands of provider-based apprenticeships (contrary to nursing education models in the rest of the developed world) 'raise the bar'?

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  • Absolutely agree with anonymous above - I guess the question has to be, What 'bar' are they actually referring to...!?

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