Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/nclexion/public_html/wp-content/themes/jnews/class/ContentTag.php on line 47
An extra cash bonus will be offered to employers in England for every learning disability nurse apprentice they take on, as part of efforts to bolster the fragile workforce, it has been revealed.
Earlier this month the government pledged £172m to increase the number of degree nurse apprentices being trained to 2,000 annually over the next four years.
As part of the new package, employers will receive £8,300 per placement per year to help cover the costs associated with taking on a nurse apprentice including for “backfill” staff cover.
It has today been confirmed by Health Education England that NHS trusts will be able to claim an additional £3,900, on top of the £8,300, for each learning disability nurse apprentice included in their intake for the next year.
The significant decline in learning disability nurses in recent years has been widely recognised as an issue of major concern, with various pledges made for action to address the problem.
Latest data from the Nursing and Midwifery Council shows that the number of learning disability nurses on the UK register fell 5% from 18,163 in March 2016, to 17,179 in March 2020.
Meanwhile, according to NHS Digital, the number of these nurses in NHS posts in England has plummeted 40% in a decade, from 5,368 in May 2010, to 3,223 in May 2020.
At the Nursing Times Workforce Summit last year, NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer warned that learning disability nursing was “on the verge of collapse educationally”.
Mr Mortimer has also been a key voice in the fight for reforms to the nurse apprenticeship funding model, which is based around the government’s apprenticeship levy scheme.
The levy is a pot of cash paid into by businesses that fit certain criteria with money handed back out to employers to fund the training of apprentices.
However, inflexibility in the scheme to front wider costs incurred by employers that take on a nurse apprentice had previously been cited as a key barrier to widescale roll out of these apprenticeships.
Mr Mortimer told Nursing Times today that the new measures announced were “welcome”.
“We have called for adequate support for nurse degree apprenticeships for some years, and the Commons education select committee endorsed that call in 2018,” said Mr Mortimer.
“The steps taken in recent weeks to better fund degree apprenticeships are hugely welcome therefore.
“This further step to support education for learning disability nurses is also welcome, given the particularly high shortages of these vital nurses, and the risk that poses to services.”
Laura Roberts, director of skills development and participation for HEE, said: “Nursing degree apprentices will receive a salary and have their tuition costs paid for through the apprenticeship programme.
“The funding enables employers to meet the costs of taking on apprentices, including staffing costs while apprentices are undertaking education and training.”