NHS partnership offers apprenticeship route to nursing

  • Date

    Thu 12 Apr 18

We’ve teamed up with four NHS Trusts covering mid and south Essex to be one of the first areas in the UK to offer nursing degree ‘top-up’ apprenticeships – a new route to nursing that will help more people get into the profession.

Through nursing degree apprenticeships, existing NHS staff can train to become nurses by studying part-time alongside their jobs. NHS trusts partner with universities to offer the apprenticeships, and pay apprentices’ course fees using the government’s apprenticeship levy. 

With our experience in running nursing courses, we’ve been chosen as provider by a consortium covering mid and south Essex, comprising: 

  • Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust
  • Mid-Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust
  • Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Basildon and Thurrock Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

27 staff from the four trusts started their courses on 9 April at our Southend Campus. 


Julie Coleman, Lead Nurse Practice Development/Education Liaison Manager at Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “Apprenticeships are a fantastic opportunity for us to develop a ‘grow your own’ workforce model. There has been a huge amount of interest from existing staff as well as new starters to the Trust. Vocational courses enable staff to fulfil lifelong ambitions of becoming registered nurses.

“From the interviews it was clear that the group of staff hoping to complete the apprenticeship are passionate about the nursing profession. Despite the NHS being under considerable pressure they were highly motivated and enthusiastic about the prospect of becoming registered nurses.”

Professor Graham Underwood, Executive Dean of our Faculty of Science and Health said: “Establishing these new apprenticeship programmes with our partner NHS Trusts in Essex is testament to the high regard in which our nursing programmes are held. 

“We are proud to be working across Essex and the wider region to train the nurses and other healthcare professionals that the health sector needs.”

Full apprenticeships are four years in total, split into two halves. After two years apprentices earn a Foundation Degree and are then qualified for Assistant Practitioner roles. The second two years then lead to the BSc Nursing award. The four Essex Trusts are running these final two years as a ‘top up’ programme, with the students all already holding Foundation Degrees. 

The apprentices will undergo the same training as the University’s full-time nursing students, organised differently to fit around their continued work commitments.

Sarah Lee, Head of Nursing in our School of Health and Social Care said: “Essex has a long tradition of being able to respond quickly to changes in healthcare and has always supported a variety of routes into nursing beyond traditional full-time programmes. This approach has meant we can respond quickly in structuring our existing BSc Nursing curriculum for the apprenticeship delivery model.

“Apprenticeships provide great opportunities to widen participation in nursing by supporting people with a variety of backgrounds to become registered nurses.”