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07.06.18

Apprenticeships must not repeat mistakes of the past, RCN warns

Nursing apprenticeships could put patients and apprentices at risk, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned.

The RCN believes that apprenticeships risk putting pressure on overstretched NHS services as they place responsibility for training staff on “cash-strapped employers.”

The current apprenticeship levy does not cover the full costs of training, meaning that trusts must pick up the bill.

Speaking at the education select committee, Janet Davies, chief executive of the RCN, stressed that there is a need to maintain degree-based learning for nurses, which she said is safer, more consistent and inclusive.

She referred to research carried out in the ‘80s, which found that hospital-based apprentice training was unsafe, inefficient, and did not equip nurses with adequate skills.

Davies explained: “The big challenge we have is ensuring we’ve got a proper environment where students can be students and where patients can be kept safe.

“We are working in an environment where we have 40,000 registered nurse vacancies. These are the people who have to be the mentors and supervisors and their focus has to be providing safe care to patients.”

She said that “it is not by chance” that vacancy levels are high, attributing it to poor policy and money saving in the past, which she argued apprenticeships will not fix.

The chief executive concluded: “We need to have incentives for people to be able to have a university education as well as people having the opportunity via an apprenticeship. Both models need investment not just one over another.”

Top image: sturti

 

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