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Hundreds to train through nurse apprenticeships each year, says Hunt


Up to 1,000 apprentice nurses could join the NHS each year once the new route into the profession is fully up and running, the government has announced.

During a speech to NHS employers this morning, Jeremy Hunt laid out plans to introduce the first degree-level nurse apprenticeships from September among a range of nursing workforce policy announcements.

As previously reported by Nursing Times, at least four universities are expected to begin nurse apprenticeships in partnership with employers in 2017.

Apprentice nurses will stay in work while learning and will not have to pay to train.

The Department of Health said today that people will be able to join apprenticeship programmes at different stages, depending on their qualifications and experience.

In a statement issued ahead of his speech at the NHS Providers annual conference in Birmingham, Mr Hunt said that existing routes to gain a nurse degree “shut out” some of “the most caring, compassionate staff in our country”.

“By creating hundreds of new apprentice nurses, we can help HCAs and others reach their potential”

Jeremy Hunt

“I want those who already work with patients to be able to move into the jobs they really want and I know for many, this means becoming a nurse,” he said.

“Not everyone wants to take time off to study full time at university so by creating hundreds of new apprentice nurses, we can help healthcare assistants and others reach their potential as a fully trained nurse,” he added.

Professor Lisa Bayliss Pratt, director of nursing at Health Education England, is co-chair of the “trailblazer” group of employers and representatives from the healthcare sector developing the nurse apprenticeship standard.

The standard is due to be published today by the Skills Funding Agency and will describe what apprentices will be doing and the skills required of them.

“The nurse apprenticeship route will provide employers with an opportunity to grow their own workforce”

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt

Commenting on the plans announced today, Professor Bayliss-Pratt said: “The development of the nursing degree apprenticeship standard is a key element of developing flexible routes into nursing for our health and care workforce.

“We want to open up more opportunities for people to enter the nursing profession and the nurse apprenticeship route will provide employers with an opportunity to grow their own workforce,” she said.

“We anticipate that the first nursing degree apprentice programme will be available in 2017,” she added.

When asked by Nursing Times how many apprentice places would be available across England in the academic year starting from September 2017, the DH said the trailblazer group would now work on forming a delivery plan, which would include these details.

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt

The DH said the plan would also provide information about when the apprenticeship programme is expected to be fully up and running and offering up to 1,000 annual training places in the NHS.

It confirmed nurse apprentices would also be able to train in community and social care settings.

Responding to the announcement, Jackie Smith, chief executive and registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, said: “We have worked closely with the government and other partners on the development of the nursing degree apprenticeship.

“Those following the new apprenticeship pathway will be trained against the NMC’s pre- registration standards ensuring all nurses joining the NMC’s register are equipped with the right skills, knowledge and experience to deliver safe and effective care,” she said.

View from Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN

“With almost 24,000 nursing vacancies across the UK, it is very positive that the Government recognises the need to increase the number of nurses. We know this will improve the quality of patient experience and outcomes as well as relieving pressure on our over-worked staff.

“Giving opportunities for staff currently working in the NHS in England is very welcome. Hardworking staff deserve the chance to develop their careers.

“Flexible entry into nursing has always been important to get the right nurse and enable a wide access to the profession. For many years, universities have worked to achieve just this. We have yet to see the result of the decision to remove the funding for undergraduate nurse education and nursing bursaries, expecting student nurses to pay for their education with loans. The explanation for this move was to enable more people to train as nurses by releasing the cap created by limited funding.

janet davies

janet davies

Janet Davies

“Whilst this new apprenticeship model will provide a different opportunity, we need to be careful that their clinical experience is in a learning environment and they have access to graduate level education to gain the knowledge and skills required for 21st century health care, which are proved to have a direct effect on patient mortality. Nursing has progressed over many years, we must be careful to learn from the lessons of the past when student nurses were often seen as nursing on the cheap.

“We must be careful we do not create a two-tier system which reduces equality of opportunity. We need to attract people of all ages and from diverse backgrounds into the profession.

“The RCN and the nursing community has fought long and hard to ensure a highly skilled and expert workforce. This can only be achieved if the right level of university education, supervised clinical experience in a learning environment with substantial mentoring and supervision are available.”


Readers' comments (10)

  • "......fully up and running and offering up to 1,000 annual training places in the NHS"


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  • I welcome the idea of apprenticeship, but what about the poor student nurses that have had to struggle through a university degree? They Constantly do 16+ hours 4/5 days a week due to travelling, independent study and placements and NMC regulations?? Scrimped and scrapped through with a minute bursary and not been able to work to earn extra money because of the magnitude of the workload? Think it's a little deflating and demoralising that the year I and many others qualify someone can do the job I have struggled to complete.

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  • So let's see...we're promised an extra ten thousand nurses annually through cutting the student bursary, student nurses becoming indebted and needing to repay loans in the order of £60k once qualified. Now we're promised we'll get an extra thousand apprentice nurses a year, through relatively lowly paid apprenticeship schemes...sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Note how there are no 'medical apprentices','physio apprentices' etc. No, only Nursing is allowing itself to be cheapened by the likes of Hunt, Cummings, Bayliss-Pratt etc.

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  • Why would anybody do a degree when you can become a nurse associate with 2 O levels, have no debt or responsibility and after a few years be paid more than a newly qualified, degree trained, debt laden, overworked, undervalued but proud Registered General Nurse.

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  • Call me old fashioned but the only way to improve the number of general nurses and standard of nursing is to get away from a university based education and bring training back to healthcare settings were practice can be more closely monitored. Then on completion of training there should be a contract were the newly qualified nurse must work at the hospital they trained at for a period of two years, therefore undergoing what may be deemed a probationary period with increased colleague support. Nursing has become financially focussed for universities and we now have a profession where the professionals have increasing debt and are expected to work long hours for little pay. Hardly an incentive! The RMN and RNLD course can be run in a more social setting but again, there should be a contract for two years work in the NHS if the training is funded by the NHS. |Nurses, not politicians should be doing the thinking.

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  • Just when you think that the nursing profession has gained much needed respect and admiration for their hard earned academic and professional status, along comes Hunt and takes it right back to the 'good old days'. The nursing profession is in a mess, who is actually protecting our profession? Nurse education has been chopping n changing forever and when finally we get graduate status it's messed up again. How can the public have faith in us when we don't have faith in and protect our professional standing. As I've said before it's a money saving scam, cheap nursing in the guise of gaining experience on the job training. University education promotes critical thinking, therefore challenging ideas and so on. I agree with the 6 C's but for the 21st century nurse caring, and compassion are not enough. Nurses need to be I hasten to add critical thinking, confident, challenging, clever, 4 more to add to the 6c's me thinks.

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  • I agree with the first comment in regards to training. I work alongside care homes in the community and feel that staffing is a big issue for them. why can't Jeremy Hunt think outside the box and allow apprenticeship training across the board? Why just stipulate NHS. With talk of joined up care if the people at the top of the pile don't think to consider implementing it then what hope is there for others.

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  • Mr Hunt needs to accept there is a recruitment/staffing crisis across all health professions in the NHS. Why no apprentice scheme for allied professions e.g. OT, Physio's, Dieticians, Speech Therapists, Radiographer etc? Is it because Nursing is STILL not given the professional recognition, respect and parity when set against our colleagues?

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  • I have spent a long time researching the history of nurse education and it is so sad that nurse education has been so politicised and controlled by various governments since the 1932 Lancet commission report. Since that time nurse leaders have called for higher levels of education but this has been resisted because of the need for numbers - quantity over quality. All the pre-registration reviews up to 2012 Willis review have found no issues with University based training, bearing in mind we have had nursing degrees in the UK since 1960.
    I cannot believe that the nursing profession just lets all of this happen. I can imagine the public outcry if Jeremy Hunt introduced a medical apprenticeship - the thing it medicine would never allow that to happen, and as per normal, we roll over. We are so confused about our identity and it seems that as long as we're seen as caring and compassionate that's ok. It isn't - we have to have the underpinning knowledge and we have to have comparable levels of education to other health professionals otherwise nursing will be deprofessionalised, paid less and continue to follow and not lead. I guess nursing has got what some have wished for. I find this all very sad.

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  • Bring back a Diploma based system of a two year duration this will allow a whole load of nurses through without all of the academic nonsense .Those that wish to become a career academic based nurse could go on and get a degree by day release study to gain access to higher paying positions .
    I have been a nurse for a very long time and now see how good my training was I was totally supported by the education system I was in ,it was easy to access tutor support ,they were not too busy sorting out their own qualifications PHD's etc they actually cared about the students under their wing .
    There are many very capable students failing because of the difficulties of travelling family commitments and lack of finance whilst in placement areas due to the way nurse training has evolved .
    The cohorts that start in February have little university support over the summer period ,as in my daughters case because the learning café is shut ,tutors on leave, in her placement area she has never seen a tutor.She is at the end of her second year she emails the placement team to change area, no one ever replies to her concerns , she currently leaves home at 5.30am in the morning and returns at nearly 9.30 pm , when a large local hospital is a twenty minute bus journey is away. She is not alone in this, some on her course members have dropped out because of this .
    Sadly I don't think my daughter will pass this course as she does not have enough support both academically and due to placement areas which incur car maintenance costs, petrol costs and time management issues .She has passed all her placement areas with flying colours .Her academic work she is failing ,she is not alone.
    At the end of her second year, probably unable to get on any further nursing courses ,where dose she go from here ,she always wanted to be a nurse and can't see herself as anything else .
    There is also another issue, the hugh amount of money that training costs ,to waste it by part training students and them not supporting them enough and allowing them to fail and ignoring the issues that cause them to fail .
    For the majority of nursing degrees are unnecessary ,if you want to become a career nurse, nurse prescriber ,midwife, or nurse manager perhaps that's when it has value etc .If you have dyslexia it is impossible to hope to pass this existing course set up with out maximum support which maybe difficult to access ,be warned and lets face it for a degree course ,the pay at the end of it, is at best mediocre graduates with other degrees start with a good salary £24000 and above raising quite quickly .
    I feel that things need to change and quickly the current system doesn't work well a lot of money is wasted by not learning from current mistakes and over emphasis on the role of academia in nursing which essentially requires people skills and quick thinking when patients are unwell .

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