The government aims to introduce a new apprenticeship to give students an alternative route into nursing than through university, according to minister for nursing Ben Gummer.
Mr Gummer revealed the plans during an adjournment debate on student nurse funding in theHouse of Commons last night.
MP for Ilford North Wes Streeting raised a number of questions around the abolishment of student nurse bursaries such as how mature students would finance their studies and how clinical placements would be funded. Mr Gummer responded to the questions by stating that Mr Streeting had only mentioned the university route into nursing but that he 'ommitted to reflect on the fact that the government have stated that we will introduce an apprenticeship route into nursing to degree level - level six.'
'That will provide an alternative route into nursing, whereby nurses will be able to earn while they learn from healthcare assistant level all the way to a full nursing qualification at degree level. It will be possible for them to do so as mature students, which means it might take a bit longer, but they will be able to earn all the way from an existing job to gain a nursing qualification,' said Mr Gummer.
Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham, Yardley, questioned whether people would be paid for doing the apprenticeship to which Mr Gummer replied that they were in detailed discussions with the Nursing and Midwifery Council about how the apprenticeship route will work and says that they 'envisage the apprentices earning a salary.'
Mr Gummer said: 'The qualification has to have complete equality of both esteem and rigour...We envisage opening the route to exisiting healthcare assistants to give them the opportunity to progress to a nursing grade while continuing at a similar salary point as an apprentice...There will be two routes into nursing: the university route and the apprenticeship route.'
Mr Streeting also stated that the government should clarify how clinical placements would be funded if the number of nursing students will be expanded, which wasn't addressed by Mr Gummer.
He also questioned what assessment the government have made on the impact on mature students and at what stage applicants for nursing courses were being turned away.
Mr Gummer concluded the session by saying that there would be a consultation on student nurse bursaries on 11 January 2016 with key organisations such as the Royal College of Nursing, healthcare unions and the National Union of Students.