NHS England’s most senior nurse is calling on NHS organisations to boost the number of nursing apprenticeships they offer to local people, in order to help deliver the health service’s Long Term Plan to improve patient care.
England’s chief nursing officer, Ruth May, last week met 17 nurses in Cambridge who are among the first in the country to complete their qualifications through the scheme, inspiring her to encourage the rest of the country to follow suit.
She commented: “The NHS is providing world class care for more patients than ever before, and to carry on doing that we need 50,000 more nurses.
“Boosting the number of nursing apprentices is one important way we can achieve that goal, and as we deliver on our NHS Long Term Plan we want local health service employers to ramp up the number of opportunities they offer to people in their areas.”
Almost 1,800 new nursing apprentices have already started their training over the last couple of years, where they are given a triple package of on-the-job training, free tuition fees and an annual wage, meaning people of all ages have a chance to earn while they learn to provide care.
The NHS says that it has already invested over 50% of its £200 million apprenticeship levy back into creating training opportunities during 2019/20 – significantly more than in the previous year, but now every NHS trust in the country is being urged to take this a step further and aim for 100% over 2020/21 in order to boost the health service’s workforce.
The push sits alongside the organisation’s “We are the NHS” recruitment campaign, which has seen applicants for nursing degrees increase by 6% year on year.