Publication of Government response to Education Committee report – Nursing degree apprenticeships: in poor health? 

 

The Education Committee has today (4 Mar) published the Government’s response (Eighth Special Report of Session 2017-19) to the Committee’s Eighth Report of Session 2017-19, Nursing degree apprenticeships: in poor health?  

 

The Committee’s original report, published on 6 December, examined how the system of nursing degree apprenticeships is currently working and some of the reasons behind the low level of take up since the scheme was introduced in 2016. 

Conclusions and recommendations

A special case?

1.Setting an ambitious target for apprenticeships across the public sector is vital to promoting their uptake as part of a wholesale shift in our economy. But that target must be realistic, and any barriers should be torn down. There are too many obstacles in the way of nursing degree apprenticeships, making it extremely difficult for the NHS to play its part in achieving the public sector target. (Paragraph 12)

2.The Government should maintain an ongoing conversation with the NHS to ensure that it is supported to develop a sufficient number ofquality nursing apprenticeships. (Paragraph 13)

3.We recognise that nursing degree apprenticeships alone will not solve the nursing workforce crisis or improve access to nursing for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. However, no-one should be prevented from undertaking a nursing degree apprenticeship due to a lack of availability or take-up within the system. We welcome the Government’s cross-departmental work in establishing nursing degree apprenticeships and we look forward to it developing with a focus on expanding the programme to ensure that every future nurse has a choice about their route into the profession. (Paragraph 14)

4.There is currently little incentive for the NHS to spend precious time and resource building nursing apprenticeships. It is imperative that nursing apprenticeships work for the NHS as well as for providers and nursing students. (Paragraph 15)

Supernumerary status

5.We look forward to the outcome of the NMC’s consultation on whether nursing associate students should remain supernumerary and whether there are alternative approaches. We urge the NMC to apply any safe and effective flexibility to supernumerary status to nursing degree apprentices in addition to nursing associates. (Paragraph 22)

Apprenticeship levy

6.We recommend that the Government should reconsider its position in not providing much needed flexibility in the apprenticeship levy for the NHS.

  • We recommend that the Government should allow NHS employers to use their apprenticeship levy to cover the backfill costs of apprentices who are required by the NMC to be supernumerary for over 20% of their contracted hours.
  • Our report on the quality of apprenticeship training and provision recommended that the Government should double the time employers have to spend their levy funds to 48 months. We reiterate that recommendation, which would allow the NHS to develop and implement more apprenticeship standards. (Paragraph 32)

7.We recommend the funding band for nursing degree apprenticeships remains at a minimum of £27,000 and the IfA should consider increasing it. Any future reduction of the funding band must be assessed to ensure that providers can continue to deliver apprenticeships. These assessments should be published. (Paragraph 36)

8.We recommend that the Government should prioritise investment in CPD for nurses and that it release a strategy and timeline for how it intends to do so. We also recommend that more postgraduate (Level 7) apprenticeships should be created for nurses to enable them to further their careers and develop specialisms. The Government should provide funding for trailblazer groups to develop these apprenticeships.(Paragraph 40)

9.We recommend that employers should be able to use the apprenticeship levy to develop the necessary infrastructure for nursing degree apprenticeships, including training nurses in supervision and protecting time for them to undertake such training. (Paragraph 41)

Committee Membership: Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP (Con, Harlow), Lucy Allan MP (Con, Telford), Ben Bradley MP (Con, Mansfield), Marion Fellows MP (SNP, Motherwell and Wishaw), James Frith MP (Lab, Bury North), Emma Hardy MP (Lab, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle), Trudy Harrison MP (Con, Copeland), Ian Mearns MP (Lab, Gateshead), Lucy Powell MP (Lab Co-op, Manchester Central), Thelma Walker MP (Lab, Colne Valley), William Wragg MP (Con, Hazel Grove)  

 

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