Nursing apprentices could work in the NHS from September 2017, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced.
The apprenticeships, announced earlier this year, will provide an alternative entry into nursing and aim to increase the numbers of nurses employed in the NHS.
‘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,’ said Mr Hunt in his keynote speech at the NHS Providers annual conference in Birmingham.
The apprenticeships are available to those already working in the NHS wishing to upskill to nursing and to those who would like to become nurses without undertaking a three-year nursing degree full time. Those who complete the nursing apprenticeship will receive a nursing degree.
The Department for Education has now approved the degree-level nursing apprenticeship standard.
Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), welcomes the introduction of the nursing apprenticeships as a way to tackle the 24,000 nurse vacancies in the NHS now.
She said that ‘flexible entry’ is important to get right. ‘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 [on numbers] created by limited funding,’ she added.
A spokesperson from the Department of Health confirmed that the nursing apprentices will work across all settings in the NHS.
‘Students via the apprenticeship route will need to meet the same nursing and midwifery standards as other nursing students and they will be required as part of their apprenticeship to undertake a variety of placements.
‘A student employed in a primary care or community setting would have access to a range of placement experiences, in common
with one employed by an acute Trust,’ the spokesperson said.