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University to help tackle Midlands’ nursing skills gap with the launch of new degree apprenticeships

A major new package of university courses are set to be launched to help tackle a shortfall of nearly 8,500 nurses across the Midlands, and land learners with a degree while they train.

Birmingham City University is launching the suite of nursing degree apprenticeships in a bid to boost the region’s healthcare workforce.

Figures revealed by the Royal College of Nursing last year showed that the Midlands had a total of 8,416 unfilled nursing posts – a rise of 6.1 per cent on the previous year.

The shortage accounts for 12.6 per cent of nursing vacancies across the country – or one in eight posts - which the RCN described as a ‘crisis’.

Birmingham City University, which is the largest trainer of undergraduate nurses in the Midlands, will now work alongside local NHS Trusts to offer their employees an opportunity to train in nursing.

The new apprenticeship will span four years and, upon completion, apprentices will graduate with an honours degree in nursing as well as registered nurse status.

Those training to become learning disability nurses will be the first to begin the apprenticeship, starting their training in March this year.

The news comes as apprenticeships are celebrated across the UK, as National Apprenticeship Week activities recognise their value in meeting workforce needs and providing the opportunity to earn as you learn.

Associate Professor at Birmingham City University, Jim Chapman, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for us to help address the needs of our local healthcare workforce.

“We know we need more nurses and we know we need to encourage more people to train to become nurses.

The costs of being a full time student can be a factor in that decision, particularly for mature students. The launch of our new apprenticeships mean that those working in the NHS can progress their careers and gain a degree whilst still working.
Jim Chapman

Emma Flanders, Lead Matron, Learning Disability Services Division at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, welcomed the new apprenticeships:

“We are excited that we have embarked on the learning disability nursing degree apprenticeship in partnership with BCU. This allows us to support the development of our future nursing workforce, affording apprentices the opportunity to have work experience across variety of settings delivering person-centred specialist healthcare with and for people with learning disabilities.

“Our apprentices will access the pre-registration learning disability nursing degree, without the worry of university fees or loans, whilst receiving pay and being supported by and working alongside a number of healthcare professionals within multi-disciplinary workforce.

“There is a recognised national need for and celebration of our profession, and as a learning disability nurse myself, I believe this new route into nursing will offer the opportunity to strengthen the development of our future workforce - widening the approaches to achieve the privileged status of being a registered learning disability nurse.

“To deliver our national commitments in improving healthcare and the standards of services to support for people with learning disabilities, the need for learning disability nurses is at its greatest, and at BCHC we believe our apprentices will play a part in becoming the future workforce that is required to achieve these aspirations.”

Apprenticeship routes into adult, child and mental health nursing will begin in September 2020.

Charlotte Sutton, Talent for Care Manager at Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for NHS staff to be able to become nurses without all the university fees.

“As it is, via the apprenticeship route, they will be supported by the NHS Trust and the university whilst studying. This will hopefully encourage more people to choose Learning Disability Nursing as their career.

“Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust are enjoying learning more about the Nursing Degree Apprenticeship for their staff.”

For more information on nursing apprenticeships, please visit the University’s website.

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