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District nursing apprenticeship standard approved by Government

The planned introduction of a district nursing apprenticeship in England has been given the go-ahead by the Government.

A draft occupational standard was approved by The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education after two years of work by a trailblazing group, led by nurse Steph Lawrence, interim executive director of nursing at Leeds Community Healthcare and Leeds GP Confederation.

The apprenticeship would provide an alternative employer-funded route into district nursing as part of a part-time two-year programme. 

The standard is set for delivery in September 2020, following the development of an end point assessment for the apprenticeship later this year.  

The new apprenticeship route follows a reduction in the number of nurses qualifying as district nurse specialist practitioners in the UK. An annual report from the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) found that 10% fewer district nurses qualified in 2017 - 464 compared to 517 the year before. 

Dr Crystal Oldman, chief executive of the QNI, said that they were ‘delighted’ with the recognition of the ‘highly skilled specialist role’ and saw it as a ‘testament to the hard work of Steph Lawrence and others’.

She said: ‘Given the recent doubts about continued funding from Health Education England for the District Nursing Specialist Practitioner Qualification, the new apprenticeship offers an alternative funding model for the qualification of district nurse, alongside but not replacing the existing funding model. There is a very bright future ahead for all nurses coming into the district nursing service.’

HEE have been contacted by Nursing in Practice for comment.