Commenting on the Department of Health and Social Care announcing up to £172m for thousands more apprentice nurses in England (Monday), UNISON deputy head of health Helga Pile said:
“This investment is a step in the right direction. The NHS is losing tens of thousands of nurses every year and properly funded apprenticeships can help attract new recruits. They can also open up career pathways for existing NHS staff.
“However, the government must go further. This opportunity to earn while you learn should be extended to other professions where shortages exist.
“The apprenticeship levy needs reforming. Many trusts are unable to spend the cash because they’re too hard up to cover all the costs of taking on apprentices. The cash then ends up lost to the NHS.
“A fair and consistent wage is also essential. Unless this is sorted urgently, the NHS will struggle to attract apprentices in the first place.”
Notes for editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.