A Government Health Minister has praised local NHS Nursing Associate apprentices at a celebration event on Thursday evening (9 February), as part of National Apprenticeships Week 2023.
Will Quince MP, Minister of State for Health and Secondary Care, welcomed the apprentices to the NHS and in his speech, thanked them for taking on these new roles which are making a difference for our residents. He also reiterated the importance of apprenticeships, which enable great talent to join the NHS, while supporting people to earn while they learn.
22 Primary Care Nursing Associates are now undertaking apprenticeships in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes as part of a project with local universities which offers a new, on-the-job training route to nursing careers. The Integrated Care Board has supported general practices to identify suitable candidates and to access this new role to expand their range of services for patients.
Nursing Associate is a new healthcare role created to ‘bridge the gap’ between healthcare assistants and registered nurses. Nationally there are now over 7,800 Nursing Associates on the NMC register, with many more in training.
Sarah Stanley, Chief Nursing Director at Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board, said:
“National Apprenticeship Week is the ideal time to highlight the development opportunities available to NHS staff. The training to become a nursing associate can be completed on the job, over the course of a two-year apprenticeship.
“We’re committed to supporting people to develop their careers in the NHS, and apprenticeships are an ideal way to earn while you learn.
“Although many employers support apprentices via the apprenticeship levy, smaller businesses such as general practices have traditionally found it more difficult to make these opportunities available.
“Our Primary Care Training Hub saw the chance to develop staff via the Nursing Associate role, which helps them to broaden their career aspirations and helps the NHS to plan a workforce for the future. We’ve worked with practices to identify staff interested in completing the apprenticeship, and have a partnership with the University of Bedfordshire and other universities to support them onto the course.”
Eight apprentices started their training in 2021, with a further 14 signing up last year. Many were already working in NHS roles prior to beginning their apprenticeships, but others were recruited onto the course from local communities in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes. The apprenticeship lasts for two years, so the first cohort will conclude their studies and gain their accreditation as Nursing Associates later this year.
Alison Stephens, one of the 22 Nursing Associate apprentices working in primary care in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes, said:
“I’d already worked as a healthcare assistant in the NHS for eight years so I was really excited to be able to go to university as part of my professional development. I’m learning new skills which benefits my patients and my colleagues, too.
“I understand what I am doing at university and how it fits into the role. I already feel that I am a better healthcare professional for the few short months I have been studying.
“I think in the future, Nursing Associates will be playing a major role in both primary and secondary care and I am looking forward to the options and new responsibilities it gives me.
“It’s not easy: it isn’t meant to be, but I’ve settled down into a routine with the support of my colleagues at the surgery. Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for people to learn on the job, and I look forward to using my new skills at work every day!”
There are over 350 different careers in the National Health Service. Explore roles and qualifications at www.healthcareers.nhs.uk.