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Readers’ panel: Is investment in nursing degree apprenticeships value for money?

NHS Employers reveals cost of training apprentices is far higher than undergraduate nurses

NHS Employers evidence shows the cost to individual organisations of training a nursing degree apprentice is £137,392 over four years, compared with £78,000 to train a nurse at undergraduate level over three years, as quoted in the 2015 Shape of Caring report. Nursing Standard readers have their say

Nursing degree apprentices combine study and work for four years. Picture: Barney Newman

Grant Byrne is a nursing student in Edinburgh

The appeal of nursing degree apprenticeships is obvious: they allow employers to use students as an extra pair of hands and students get to earn while they are studying. Whether this route will prove as effective as the university model remains to be seen, but I believe that the funds used to create it would have been better spent on improving access to the existing route. University education for nurses is tried and tested – why mess with a winning formula?

Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse and PhD student in Nottingham

The apprenticeship scheme is one way of taking a vital broad approach to nurse training. But if employers cannot afford to train enough apprentices, surely it is set up to fail? According to NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer, inflexibility in the way the apprenticeship levy can be used and lack of additional investment from the government means employers are being ‘priced out’ of using apprentices. This scheme needs proper government investment if it is to be successful, but I won’t hold my breath.

Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London

It may be more expensive to train nursing degree apprentices, but they are getting paid to work and to train, while undergraduate nursing students don’t get paid and those in England have lost the bursary. It has been highlighted time and again that undergraduate nursing students are effectively doing a full-time job, for free, with no funding, and the nature of the course makes it difficult to find part-time work. Is undergraduate nurse training cheaper at the expense of the students? This is more important than counting the coins.

Beverley Ramdeen is a senior nursing lecturer in Hertfordshire

Although the apprenticeship scheme allows another route into nursing, the cost in comparison to undergraduate nurse training does seem steep. I would like to see more funding allocated to training nurses at undergraduate level. But a nursing degree apprenticeship is not the same as undergraduate nurse training and we need to look at the value and benefits of the scheme – both to patients and the healthcare setting – before deciding whether nursing degree apprenticeships are value for money.

Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only


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