District nurse apprenticeships win key backing

Employer-funded education model is ‘clear recognition of the highly skilled role’

Employer-funded education model is ‘clear recognition of the highly skilled role’

Picture: iStock

An employer-funded route into district nursing is a step closer after an apprenticeship model received provisional approval.

Once finalised, will lead to a national apprenticeship model for district nurse specialist education in England. This would be open to nurses who ideally have some community experience.

Approval of apprenticeships body

The approval of the apprenticeship standard by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, follows 18 months' work involving stakeholders including employers, approved higher education providers and nursing bodies. The qualification has already been approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Stephanie Lawrence leads the group
working on the apprenticeship standard.
Picture: John Houlihan

Leeds Community Healthcare and Leeds GP Confederation interim executive director of nursing Stephanie Lawrence, who led the group that prepared the draft standard, said: 'We are pleased to have district nursing recognised as a unique occupation,' she said.

'This will enable continuation of training via the apprenticeship route, which is crucial if we are to deliver more care in the community to meet the NHS Long Term Plan.

'There is still work to do, but to get to this point is amazing.'

The apprenticeship standard will be ready once the final assessment process has been approved later in the year.

The unsung heroes of the NHS

QNI chief executive Crystal Oldman said: 'This is a testament to the hard work of Steph Lawrence and others, who had the vision, the knowledge and the determination to see the application process through.

'District nurses are the unsung heroes of the NHS, supporting people to be cared for safely at home and preventing thousands of hospital admissions every day.

Crystal Oldman, QNI chief executive

‘Achieving approval of an apprenticeship standard for the district nursing specialist practitioner qualification demonstrates clear recognition of the highly skilled specialist role that is critical to patient safety and the overall success of the Long Term Plan for the NHS in England.'

There had been doubts over continued funding from Health Education England for postgraduate nurse education.

Dr Oldman praised the fact that the new apprenticeship offered an alternative funding model for the qualification of district nurse specialist, alongside but not replacing the existing funding model.

'There is a very bright future ahead for all nurses coming into the district nursing service,' she added.

A spokesperson for the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education said: 'We are pleased with the good progress that is being made towards the district nurse apprenticeship being fully approved. The sector has worked hard to agree on the occupational standard, which has now been approved with conditions.'

The Department for Education has been approached for a comment.

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