Apprentices now will be able to train directly towards becoming a nurse, the government has announced.
The apprenticeship will be targeted at healthcare assistants who have proven they can give high quality care to patients, but do not have the academic qualifications necessary to get on to a nursing degree.
The new apprenticeship will ensure there is an opportunity for care workers to progress into nursing, giving them a chance to use their vocational experience of working as a healthcare assistant to enter the nursing profession.
Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said: "I would like to thank the organisations involved in this trailblazer project, and hope their future recommendations for the degree level nursing apprenticeship will provide the NHS and private providers with a group of highly skilled and confident nurses."
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: "NHS and social care support workers have a long history of delivering high quality, compassionate care to patients and their families.
"This new apprenticeship will help healthcare support workers who have demonstrated a track record of delivering high quality care to get on in life, and break through the glass ceiling that has in the past prevented people from poorer backgrounds from entering nursing and other healthcare professions. We are supporting people with a record of hard work and dedication to our NHS to progress their careers and get on in life.
As part of the requirement that all new nurses must have a nursing degree, the apprenticeship will have the degree at its core. The group who are developing it will be looking at how ensuring that on completion, apprentices will have all the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to perform nursing duties well and confidently, meeting their employer’s and professional registration requirements.
Dr Peter Carter, Royal College of Nursing chief executive said: “The nursing profession needs to hear more detail about how this scheme would be funded, and to be fully engaged in evaluating how well the schemes work in practice. Evidence shows the value of first rate training for nurses, and we must not develop a two-tier workforce in the process.
"Above all, patients will be well served by a dynamic nursing profession which attracts the right people into a demanding role, and the RCN is committed to working with Health Education England, the government and others to achieve this.”