The RCN has reiterated the need for government investment in nursing higher education, as a report out today finds nursing degree apprenticeships are not providing a sustainable route into the profession.
The report by the House of Commons Education Committee – Nursing Degree Apprenticeships: In Poor Health? – has called the Government’s vision of nursing degree apprenticeships being a realistic and sustainable route into the nursing profession a “mirage”.
It warns that uptake has been far too slow and that there is “no evidence” to show how the Government intends to meet a target of 400 nursing associates progressing to degree apprenticeships from 2019.
The RCN welcomes apprenticeships as long as they are properly resourced and implemented safely, reiterating that there should be no concessions on students’ learning status with supernumerary status essential for safe nurse training.
However, the report makes it clear that the university route remains the fastest and safest way to educate, train and recruit the nurses so desperately needed.
The RCN is calling on the Government to invest at least £1bn into nursing higher education to help fill the growing number of nurse vacancies in England.
Dr Anne Corrin, RCN Head of Professional Learning and Development, said: “Nursing degree apprenticeships are far from the magic bullet the Government promised to grow nurse numbers and keep patients safe.
“They are trapped in a tangle of regulation that offers cash-strapped employers little incentive to run schemes and recruit apprentices. Take up is very low. We support the recommendations in the report that seek to address these issues.
“However, we are concerned the report suggests a more flexible approach to students’ learning status. The RCN is clear that the Government must commit to maintaining supernumerary status for nursing apprentices, so that they are not counted in staffing numbers. Supernumerary status is vital if apprenticeships are to provide the safe route into nursing that patients deserve.”