The government must invest in nursing higher education, the RCN has said, after a report found that apprenticeships are not sustainable.
The report by the House of Commons Education Committee Nursing, Degree Apprenticeships: In Poor Health?, said that the idea that nursing degree apprenticeships were a realistic and sustainable route into the nursing profession was 'a mirage’.
'Nursing degree apprenticeships are far from the magic bullet the Government promised to grow nurse numbers and keep patients safe,’ said Dr Anne Corrin, RCN Head of Professional Learning and Development.
‘They are trapped in a tangle of regulation that offers cash-strapped employers little incentive to run schemes and recruit apprentices. Take up is very low. We support the recommendations in the report that seek to address these issues.
The warns that uptake of the apprenticeships has been slow and that there is ‘no evidence’ to show how the target of 400 nursing associates progressing to degree apprenticeships from 2019 will be met.
‘However, we are concerned the report suggests a more flexible approach to students’ learning status,’ added Dr Corrin. ‘The RCN is clear that the Government must commit to maintaining supernumerary status for nursing apprentices, so that they are not counted in staffing numbers. Supernumerary status is vital if apprenticeships are to provide the safe route into nursing that patients deserve.’