Health Policy

New £172 million apprenticeship scheme to combat nursing deficit

By - Integrated Care Journal
New £172 million apprenticeship scheme to combat nursing deficit

The Government has announced a new four-year nursing apprenticeship scheme worth up to £172 million which it hopes will allow students to earn as they learn. It will also help the Government to combat the nursing deficit in the NHS.

The announcement comes after a reported increase of 138 per cent increase in interaction on people looking for information on nursing on the NHS careers website between March and June. It is expected that the scheme will be take up by 2,000 nursing degree apprentices every year, over the next four years.

Nursing degree apprenticeships provide a route into nursing where people can train to meet nationally recognised standards, earning while they do so. This benefits those for whom a full-time university course is not practical or preferred.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock stated that: “Nursing apprenticeships allow students to earn as they learn…helping us to deliver 50,000 more nurses by the end of this Parliament. ”

What does the scheme mean for the sector?

The new scheme for nursing will mean that NHS and other healthcare employers will receive £8,300 per placement per year for both new and existing apprenticeships. Nursing degree apprentices will continue to receive a salary and have their tuition costs paid for through the apprenticeship programme. However, the Government hopes that the new funding will enable employers to meet the costs of taking on apprentices, including staffing costs while apprentices are undertaking education and training.

The announcement made by the Government has not been without criticism. Sally Warren, Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, commented: “Despite today’s announcement being a positive step, it alone will not solve chronic staff shortages in health and care services. ”

Ms Warren continued, explaining that the announcement: “leaves some unanswered questions for social care, a sector that went into the Covid-19 pandemic grappling with over 120,000 vacancies."

"There is a risk that the NHS recruitment drive will inadvertently exacerbate workforce shortages in social care,” she concluded.

The nursing degree apprenticeship will be a four-year course with placements available in adult, children, mental health and learning disability, fields. Once the study is complete, students can continue to become qualified as fully registered nurses.

NHS and social care employers currently train around 1,000 nurse apprentices every year.

In addition to this new funding, employers in England will also benefit from a new payment announced last month of £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and £1,500 for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, up until 31 January 2021.

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