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Nurse 'apprentices' to learn on the job in GP practices, health secretary announces

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced a new route into nursing, which will allow existing NHS staff to learn while they work and receive a nursing degree at the end.

Mr Hunt said he 'particularly' wants to explore whether 'a variation' on the new model, which is set to launch next year, could be used 'to attract medical assistants into GP surgeries'.

The tuition-free, five-year apprenticeships will act as an alternative pathway into nursing from traditional pre-registration degrees, with apprentices to 'earn while they learn', the Department of Health said.

The first apprenticeships will be launched in September 2017, with training provided by Derby, Gloucestershire, Greenwich, and Sunderland Universities, and once fully rolled out could see up to 1,000 nursing apprentices a year joining programmes across secondary, primary, commmunity and social care settings.

Speaking at the NHS Providers conference in Birmingham today, Mr Hunt said the new route would 'smash the glass ceiling’ that currently prevents 'highly dedicated and able health care assistants to progress their career'.

Mr Hunt said: 'I want everyone involved in direct patient care to know there is a simple route into nursing which does not involve leaving work to study full time at a university...

'And I particularly want to explore whether a variation of it could be used to attract medical assistants into GP surgeries, something where we have had very helpful discussions with both the Royal College of GPs and the BMA.'

The £4.5m budget will come from the Department for Education's budget, the Government added.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Fantastic. It is only fair that GPs also gain their qualifications by a similar apprenticeship

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  • What is traditional about degrees? When I was a house officer, the degree route for nursing was unusual and regarded with suspicion by the 'traditional' ward trained staff. The acid test will be the breadth and depth of training these individuals get. If they are only trained in general practice they will lack insight into more unusual or severe illnesses. And what will the entrance requirements be for this route? Are we bringing back the SEN? Maybe this is just a way of allowing our Health Care Assistants to be insured for some of the tasks that have been the remit of qualified nurses till now?

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