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Government announces 100,000 NHS apprenticeships including nurse associate role

The government will consult on the nursing associate role soon

The government has announced 100,000 new NHS apprenticeships including the nursing associate role to encourage careers in the health service. 

Health minister Ben Gummer announced plans last month to create the new support role of nursing associate, seen as a bridge between the healthcare assistant and nurse roles, with the ambition that 1,000 could be trained from this year. 

The Department of Health (DH) also announced its intention to create 100,000 NHS apprenticeships in England by 2020.

The government will consult on the nursing associate role which will provide training on the job and could lead to a foundation degree. 

It will also consider whether nursing associates could become registered nurses through a degree level apprenticeship or shortened university nursing degree. 

The DH and Health Education England say that nursing associates will be delivering ‘hands-on’ care to patients, although it is not yet clear what form the care will take.

The government will consult on proposals to make 2.3% of workers in large public sector bodies apprentices, including healthcare assistant apprenticeships in the NHS. 

Although the apprenticeships are aimed at young people, the scheme could mean existing NHS staff can have the opportunity to try a new role or enhance their current role, according to the DH. 

The DH is working with the Nursing Midwifery Council, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and employers to develop a nurse apprenticeship standard which will allow people to work towards a nursing degree while being employed as an apprentice. 

The Safe Staffing Alliance, comprised of senior nurses, academics and senior nurse leaders, claims that the new proposals for nursing associates ignore research evidence showing patients achieve better outcomes and lower mortality rates when cared for by registered nurses. 

Mr Gummer said: 'This apprenticeship plan, along with the £10 billion we have invested to back the NHS' own plans for the future, will ensure staff have the opportunity to develop their careers in both existing and also new and exciting roles such as nursing associates.'

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