UK COVID-19 Update: Funding for Nursing Apprenticeships

Peter Russell

August 10, 2020

These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

Earn As You Learn Boost for Trainee Nurses

An 'earn as you learn' approach to recruiting more nurses in England has received funding from the Government.

Up to 2000 nursing degree apprenticeships each year over the next four years could become available after the Department of Health and Social Care said it would contribute up to £172 million to the scheme.

Ministers said they wanted to capitalise on an increase in interest in health careers in the NHS, with the number of people looking for information on nursing said to have risen by 138% during the COVID-19 pandemic between March and June.

Nursing degree apprenticeships enable people to train to nationally recognised standards, while being paid, rather than committing to a full-time university course.

NHS and other healthcare employers will receive £8300 per placement per year for both new and existing apprenticeships. Nursing degree apprentices already receive a salary and have their tuition costs paid for through the apprenticeship programme.

Employers in England will also benefit from a new payment announced last month of £2000 for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and £1500 for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, up until 31 January 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

Gillian Keegan, the apprenticeships and skills Minister said: "Apprenticeships are an excellent way for anyone, regardless of their background, to kick start their career or to progress."

The Royal College of Nursing described the funding announcement as a welcome step. However, Mike Adams, the director of nursing for England, said: "It does, however, fall short of the wider investment needed to educate enough registered nurses for the future, ensuring health and care services have the staff needed.

"The full-time three-year nursing degree remains the best way to increase domestic nursing supply at the scale and pace needed.

"The Government must abolish self-funded tuition fees for all nursing students as well as introducing universal living maintenance grants that reflect actual student need if it is truly committed on delivering the 50,000 more nurses they promised."

Back to School Commitment

The Prime Minister said he was determined to get all UK children back to school this autumn.

He underlined is commitment with a visit to a school in East London earlier today.

Over the weekend, Boris Johnson was widely reported to have said it was clear that full school re-opening was a "moral duty", putting the measure ahead of keeping shops and pubs open.

Schools across the UK closed in late March, except for children of key workers and vulnerable children. Limited reopening for early years pupils, reception, year 1 and year 6 took place on 1 June. Some secondary school pupils also had time with their tutors.

Today, Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, said there was little evidence that COVID-19 was being transmitted in schools.

Later, he announced that local transport authorities in England would receive more than £40 million in funding for the autumn term to create extra capacity.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said: "Today’s funding will allow local authorities to procure dedicated extra capacity in our transport system to help students get back to their colleges and schools in time for the education restart in September.

"But we need everyone to do their bit and help even further by cycling or walking where they can, whether they’re a student going back to school or a parent commuting into work."

Randox Testing Kit Recall

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has instructed Randox Laboratories Limited to recall the 'Randox COVID-19 Home Testing Kit' on safety grounds.

A statement from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) did not elaborate on the reason for the recall but said it was a precautionary measure and that the risk to safety was low.

The PCR test kit bears the catalogue number EV4429.

Replacement kits would be provided as soon as possible, the DHSC said.

Face Mask Rule for Northern Ireland

Wearing masks in shops has become mandatory in Northern Ireland from today.

Shoppers risk a £60 fine if they enter retail outlets across the region without a mask.

To coincide with the move, the Northern Ireland Executive launched a 'Wear One for Everyone' campaign.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) warned that officers could not enforce the new rule entirely by themselves.  Mark Lindsay, chair of the PFNI, said: "It is not solely an issue for police officers. Yes, officers will be the final bulwark in enforcement, but retailers will also have a major part to play in making this mandatory instruction workable and effective.

"The vast majority of people will comply because they know the stakes couldn't be higher. However, it is an impossibility to have a police officer outside every shop in every city and every town to ensure there is full compliance."

See more global coronavirus updates in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.

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