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Apprenticeships are our answer to steep recruitment costs, says trust chief nurse

Employer is investing in apprentices to cut dependence on attracting overseas nurses

Employer is investing in apprentices to cut dependence on attracting overseas nurses


Chief nurse Lorraine Szeremeta and colleagues with some of the nurse apprentices.

A hospital trust in Cambridge is expanding its nursing workforce with more than 100 nurse apprentices.

The Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) has 105 nursing degree apprentices after embarking on a workforce plan to reduce its dependence on overseas nurses. It is working in conjunction with Anglia Ruskin University.

CUH has set aside around £2 million after deciding to tackle the fact that 50% of its nurses were being recruited from overseas.

Investment in training and backfill

The organisation anticipates it will spend around £500,000 each year on training and backfill costs over the next four years. It intends to have around 100 new nurse apprentices starting training each year.

Chief nurse Lorraine Szeremeta said recruiting large numbers of staff from overseas was not a sustainable as each international recruit cost the organisation around £30,000.

Ms Szeremeta believes CUH's cohort of nursing degree apprentices is probably the biggest in the country.

She said: 'I think other organisations nationally will be looking to how we are achieving this because people are anxious about the costs [of training apprentices].

'We have been supported as our board has agreed to invest in this. Some other organisations might not be able to.'

'I couldn’t afford to go to university, so it seemed like a really good opportunity'

Chelsea Booth, nurse apprentice

The nurse apprentices at CUH receive an annual band 2 healthcare support worker's salary of £17,460 and will continue to do so during the four years it should take to achieve NMC registration.

Chelsea Booth had already worked at CUH for eight years when the opportunity to become an apprentice arose.

'I felt like I was at the right stage to advance and I was well supported by my ward manager and colleagues.' she said. 'I couldn’t afford to go to university, so it seemed like a really good opportunity and I have had so much support in the area I work.'

Low uptake

Government plans for 1,000 nursing degree apprentices to enter training annually from September 2017 got off to what some might see as a shaky start. A nursing workforce inquiry by the Commons health committee in January 2018 found only 30 apprentices had entered training across the country and were confined to Anglia Ruskin University and the Open University.

Health Education England confirmed 400 nurse degree apprentices had begun programmes in 2018.


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