Tens of thousands of doctors and nurses ‘to be trained as apprentices’

It is thought up to a third of nurses could be trained by the new apprenticeship scheme. Credit: PA

Tens of thousands of students will be able to train as doctors and nurses while on the job to tackle NHS staff shortages.

It is expected the much-anticipated NHS workforce plan will significantly ramp up the number of medics trained via apprenticeships as an alternative to a university degree.

Up to one in 10 doctors and a third of nurses could get qualified this way in coming years, it is understood.

It comes as NHS boss told school-leavers to “earn while they learn” through the apprenticeship schemes.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS in England, told pupils at her former school that “tens of thousands” of doctors and nurses would be able to train as apprentices in the coming years.

The expansion of the schemes will offer and may entice people into a medical career later in life, she said.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had promised that the NHS’s long-term workforce plan will be published “shortly”.

Ms Pritchard said the plan is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to put the NHS on a sustainable footing”.

Chief executive of NHS England Amanda Pritchard speaks to students at her old school, Durham Johnston School in Crossgate Moor, Durham. Credit: PA

Speaking to pupils at the Durham Johnston Comprehensive School on Friday, Ms Pritchard said: “One thing is clear, the NHS is nothing without its staff.

"That is why with more than 124,000 vacancies across the workforce, we know we need to increase training places in universities so more of our brightest and best can train to become doctors or nurses.

“But university isn’t right for every school-leaver and some young people want to start earning straight away, while others may decide on a career in health care later in life.

“So the NHS is looking to expand apprenticeship schemes over the coming years, offering a different route into the NHS where students can earn while they learn, instead of going through the university route.

“But this move isn’t just something that will benefit school leavers of the future. Young people finishing their A-levels this summer can apply for the first ever medical degree apprenticeship next year.

“I would urge anyone who is leaving school this year and thinking about what comes next to consider joining the NHS, it has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me in every role I’ve done."

She was speaking as she toured her old school and met current pupils, as part of the NHS’s 75th anniversary celebrations, marked on July 5 this year.

The NHS’s doctor apprenticeship scheme is due to start in September this year, where medics in training will be able to earn a wage while they study.

The concept was first introduced as an alternative route into medicine, outside the standard undergraduate or graduate university programmes.

Commenting, Dr Latifa Patel, workforce lead for the British Medical Association, said: “We don’t know if medical schools and employing organisations are going to be able to produce medical degree programmes to meet individual apprenticeship needs while also meeting the same high standards of training experienced by traditional medical students.

“Ultimately the solution the NHS needs is still the same: A dramatic increase in traditional medical school places, postgraduate training pathways, and essential medical academic staff, all fully resourced and without delay.”

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