New degree apprenticeship pledges to address nurse recruitment difficulties in Birmingham

June 2019

A “distinctive” new adult nursing degree apprenticeship at University College Birmingham (UCB) could provide the answer to the rising number of NHS vacancies advertised in the city.

Figures from the NHS recently revealed there were 268 full-time equivalent nursing and midwifery positions advertised in Birmingham in March 2019, up from 223 in March last year – an increase of 20%.

Experts say that despite an increase in the number of nurses and midwives, demand is continuing to outstrip supply, with nurses and midwives themselves warning that recruitment and retainment difficulties are impacting on people's care.

Kathryn Riley, UCB Senior Curriculum Lead for Nursing and Health, said the University’s new four-year Adult Nursing Degree Apprenticeship BSc (Hons) could bring these figures down because of its focus on community placements.

“Birmingham is crying out for more highly-skilled nurses in community roles, ones who are educated to the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s ‘Future Nurse, Standards of Proficiency for Registered Nurses’ gold standard,” she said.

“One of the problems is that most trainee nurses on traditional degree programmes tend to complete more placements in hospitals and automatically go for jobs in clinical settings in Acute Hospitals NHS Trusts on graduation. They don’t always realise the breadth of progression routes open to them.

“Our new adult nursing degree apprenticeship supports employers to develop their own healthcare support workers and nursing associates towards registration with the NMC and is distinctive in that it includes placements in a variety of community settings.

“These include nursing and care homes, GP surgeries, hospices, specialist units and schools. Apprentices could be out visiting patients in their own homes.

“Our placement partners include Marie Curie Hospice and Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, as well as private providers such as Spire Healthcare and acute settings including the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital.”

The vocational course, which sits alongside a new three-year Adult Nursing BSc (Hons) degree and has been developed with guidance from the University of Birmingham, will see apprentices spend three days a week with their employer and one day a week learning at UCB. This sits alongside placements within both clinical and community settings mapped around work and academic studies.

UCB’s commitment to widening participation, recognising the potential of students who might not necessarily go to university, means its Diploma Level 5 Assistant Practitioners in Healthcare Apprenticeship students also have the opportunity to top up to the new degree apprenticeship.

“They will already be undertaking their on-the-job part of the degree out in the community and it will be a natural progression,” said Kathy, a Registered General Nurse (RGN) who worked at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital for 26 years as an acute nurse and senior educator within the nurse education team.

Employer event

Employers are now being invited to attend an event at UCB this month to learn more about the degree apprenticeship and how it could benefit them, but also play an active role in shaping it before the first intake in 2020.

“We want to ensure we have a teaching curriculum that meets employers’ needs,” said Kathy. “Their input at this stage will ensure their newly-qualified nurses are totally fit for purpose. Employers who are interested in offering placements are also welcome to come along.”

To ensure UCB’s nursing students receive the highest level of skills training, they will have use of a purpose-built Health Hub at the University’s new Moss House building, which opens in October and is part of a £100million investment into facilities to enhance the teaching and learning experience. 

With small teaching groups, this specialist learning environment will closely replicate real-life primary and secondary care settings and incorporate a six-bed hospital ward with simulation manikins and a clinical skills teaching room.

The employer information and feedback evening will take place at UCB’s McIntyre House building, Holland Street, on Tuesday, June 18 between 5-8pm. Please email Kathryn at k.ariley@ucb.ac.uk if you would like to come along.

Find out more about the new Adult Nursing Degree Apprenticeship (BSc) Hons and the Adult Nursing (BSc) Hons degree.

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