Funding boost to double nursing apprentices and help deliver 50,000 more nurses

Nursing careers in England will be made more accessible through a new Government package worth up to £172 million, which will enable healthcare employers to take on up to 2,000 nursing degree apprentices every year over the next four years.

The news comes as interest in health careers has surged, with the number of people looking for information on nursing on the NHS careers website rising by 138% between March and June.

Nursing degree apprenticeships provide a route into nursing where people can train to nationally recognised standards and earn as they learn, benefiting those for whom a full-time university course is not practical or preferred. 

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

“I’m thrilled to see a rising interest in nursing careers, but we must ensure this fantastic career is truly diverse and open to all.

“Nursing apprenticeships allow students to earn as they learn and this new funding will enable healthcare employers to hire thousands more, helping us to deliver 50,000 more nurses by the end of this Parliament.”

Gillian Keegan, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister said:

“Nursing apprenticeships are a brilliant way to start a truly rewarding career with our fantastic NHS.  Nurses are at the heart of our NHS and their care, compassion and support of patients save and transform lives across the country every day.

“This multi-million pound funding boost will help to support thousands of apprentices to gain the skills they need, and earn while they learn. Apprenticeships are an excellent way for anyone, regardless of their background, to kick start their career or to progress.” 

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

The nursing degree apprenticeship is a four-year course with placements available in the four fields of adult, children, mental health and learning disability, after which students can qualify as fully registered nurses. NHS and social care employers currently train around 1,000 nurse apprentices every year.

In addition to this 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 31st January 2021.

The news comes the week after the NHS People Plan was published setting out how the NHS will put staff wellbeing at its heart with a new recruitment, retention and support package. It sets out practical support for wellbeing such as safe spaces to rest and recuperate, wellbeing guardians and support to keep staff physically safe and healthy.

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Adam Cramp, 29, completed a Nursing Degree Apprenticeship at Broadmoor Hospital, part of West London NHS Trust, said: 

This scheme has given me an opportunity that I would never have thought possible. I left school without any A-Levels and worked in retail, security and as a Healthcare Assistant, where I realised I wanted to support patients and I am now a Registered Nurse.

“Without this apprenticeship, I would not have been able to get the qualifications I needed due to barriers in attending University, especially as a mature student but now believe that this is the best route into a nursing career regardless of your personal situation.

“The support I’ve received from my Trust, my University and my Managers is incredible and I even won the Apprentice of the Year Award in 2018. I encourage anybody interested to apply, I’m so thankful that I did.” 

Sophie Hurcombe, 31, a second-year Nursing Degree Apprentice from South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Trust, said: 

“I joined the Trust as a Healthcare Assistant in 2015 and witnessed first-hand the fantastic opportunities and job satisfaction that my qualified nurse colleagues had. When I saw that the Trust was advertising Nursing Apprenticeships, I knew that this would be an amazing opportunity to progress my career. 

“As a more mature student, full-time university was not financially realistic for me, so being able to study alongside my role as a Healthcare Assistant has allowed me to develop my skills and confidence whilst earning a wage. 

“The support I have received from colleagues has been invaluable and I would recommend a nursing apprenticeship to anyone thinking about getting their foot on the NHS career ladder.”

Dennis Little, Head of Workforce Development and Education at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Trust, said: 

“We introduced the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship to allow experienced healthcare professionals at our Trust to train as Registered Nurses at the University of Sunderland. The programme has allowed our apprentices to utilise the knowledge and experience they have gained through providing high-quality patient care in their nurse training.

“Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for people to develop, who may find it difficult to pursue a traditional University route towards nursing, but demonstrate a natural ability to deliver compassionate care to our patients.

“We are proud to support our current apprentices and look forward to further developing our skilled nursing workforce in the future.”

Becky White, 30, a Nursing Degree Apprentice from West London NHS Trust. said:

“I have always wanted to support others with their mental health, and my interest in this grew, working on the Rehabilitation wards at Broadmoor Hospital. When they began offering Nursing Degree Apprenticeships, I realised this was the perfect opportunity to develop my career and become a successful Mental Health Nurse. 

“I now split my time between gaining further on-the-job experience, university, and placements. My role is incredibly varied, and I’m delighted to be in a position where I can achieve and encourage others towards, success.”

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