Department of Health and Social Care
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New nursing apprenticeships for those who have proven they can care

For the first time ever, apprentices will be able to train directly towards becoming a nurse, the government announced yesterday (4 March 2014).

A trailblazer group are developing a degree level apprenticeship which will widen access to nursing. It will be targeted at the brightest and best healthcare assistants who have proven they can give high quality care to patients, but do not have the academic qualifications necessary to get on to a nursing degree.

The new apprenticeship will make sure there is an opportunity for talented care workers to progress into nursing, giving them a route to advance their careers and a chance to use their vocational experience of working as a healthcare assistant to enter the nursing profession.

Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said:

We want the new norm to be for young people to either choose to go to university or begin an apprenticeship. This announcement is another step forward in making this the case.

I would like to thank the organisations involved in this trailblazer project, and hope their future recommendations for the degree level nursing apprenticeship will provide the NHS and private providers with a group of highly skilled and confident nurses.

As part of their commitment to making the NHS more compassionate, Ministers have given the go ahead for a working group to develop a brand new apprenticeship standard. The scheme is 1 of the recommendations in the independent review carried out by Camilla Cavendish in the wake of the Francis Inquiry into the tragic events at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said:

NHS and social care support workers have a long history of delivering high quality, compassionate care to patients and their families.

This new apprenticeship will help healthcare support workers who have demonstrated a track record of delivering high quality care to get on in life, and break through the glass ceiling that has in the past prevented people from poorer backgrounds from entering nursing and other healthcare professions. We are supporting people with a record of hard work and dedication to our NHS to progress their careers and get on in life.

As part of the requirement that all new nurses must have a nursing degree, the apprenticeship will have the degree at its core. The trailblazer group who are developing it will be looking at how ensuring that on completion, apprentices will have all the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to perform nursing duties well and confidently, meeting their employer’s and professional registration requirements.

Sir Hugh Taylor, Chairman of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said:

Here at Guy’s and St Thomas’ we see great potential in the apprenticeship route to nursing. It is vital to a big employer like us, providing healthcare to a highly diverse community, to widen access to nursing from our local population and from our own workforce. Apprenticeships are already proving their worth for us in other areas of healthcare. This is a logical and exciting development.

Dr Terry Tucker, of Barchester Healthcare said:

We are delighted to be involved in the development of this apprenticeship standard for nursing. We have been working towards this for over 2 years by developing great career pathways for our ambitious carers. It builds on the success of our apprenticeship programmes and offers motivated people the opportunity to advance their career into nursing.

Tracey Cottam, Director of Transformation and Organisational Development of Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust said:

We are delighted to be involved in this important initiative. This underlines our commitment to enabling our healthcare assistants to become registered nurses through a vocational pathway that will be designed to meet professional registration requirements. This will help us to meet current and future demands for high quality healthcare.

The apprenticeship will be 1 of the government’s trailblazers and its development will be led by the NHS national training body, Health Education England. They will work with employers, professional bodies and key stakeholders to develop the new standard.

Notes to editors:

1.The scheme is 1 of the recommendations in the independent review carried out by Camilla Cavendish in the wake of the Francis Inquiry into the tragic events at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. The Camilla Cavendish review recommended that:

HEE and the LETBs should develop new bridging programmes into pre-registration nursing and other health degrees from the support staff workforce in health and social care, working with Skills for Care, NMC and Skills for Health; and explore the Barchester proposal for a higher apprenticeship.

2.Employers working with Health Education England include Northampton Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Barchester Healthcare, Priory Group and Bupa UK. These will work closely with professional bodies and other key stakeholders to develop a nursing apprenticeship standard.

3.The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

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