Nursing apprenticeships will allow students to "earn while they learn"

Jeremy Hunt is set to announce 14,500 places for apprentices to become registered nurses by 2019 in his conference speech later today.

During his speech today at the Conservative Party Conference, Jeremy Hunt is set to announce plans to create a new nurse apprenticeship route and commit to training an additional 5,500 nursing associates each year by 2019.

Nursing apprenticeships will allow students to "earn while they learn" and obtain a degree and full Nursing and Midwifery Council registration less than in 4 years. Nursing apprentices won’t have to pay tuition fees, the cost of the apprenticeship will be paid for by employers.


Mr Hunt will also promise to increase the number of university places by 25% for undergraduate degree nursing courses.

Speaking today, Mr Hunt will describe the changes as; "The biggest increase in nurse training places in the history of the NHS".

The announcement comes after the RCN called for an "urgent review" of hospital staffing levels after they warned patient safety and dignity is being put at risk by over-stretched services.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, responding to the announcement in Jeremy Hunt's Conservative Party conference speech on nurse education, said: 

"Significant increases to training numbers is welcome - we desperately need more nurses. However, they must be educated to the highest standards. We are concerned at the risk of students plugging the gaps in the current workforce at the expense of quality patient care and their own learning experience. 

"These plans appear too hospital-focused. It is essential nurses of the future have a flexible education which enables them to work in a variety of settings to deliver a 21st century health and care service. We are prepared to work with the Government on meaningful solutions for the education of nurses.

"Greater flexibility for nurses working extra shifts, supported by new technology, should improve their experience and we support this move."

Experts have warned that the country's hospitals are heading for a winter care crisis which they say could be the worst in recent history.