The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced a new £172m-package that it says will enable healthcare employers to take on up to 2,000 nursing degree apprentices every year over the next four years.
A spokesman for DHSC said 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 through 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.
Mike Adams, Royal College of Nursing director for England, welcomed the package but warned that it ‘falls short’ of the investment needed to tackle health and care staffing issues.
‘This increase in places is a welcome step and we hope it will make a career in nursing more accessible for those fortunate enough to secure a place.
‘It does, however, fall short of the wider investment needed to educate enough registered nurses for the future, ensuring health and care services have the staff needed.
‘The full-time three-year nursing degree remains the best way to increase domestic nursing supply at the scale and pace needed.
‘The government must abolish self-funded tuition fees for all nursing students as well as introducing universal living maintenance grants that reflect actual student need if it is truly committed on delivering the 50,000 more nurses they promised.’
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.
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.’
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