MP Theresa Villiers met apprentice nurses on a visit to Barnet Hospital to discuss how an apprenticeship scheme is improving standards and putting additional qualified staff on wards.
The programme has seen the Royal Free Trust, which runs the hospital, team up with Middlesex University to train people through Nursing Associate Apprenticeships. It targets NHS staff who might never have considered going to university to get a degree in nursing. Many on the course started out in the NHS as healthcare assistants.
Theresa visited on Thursday as part of National Apprenticeship Week and met managers, staff and apprentices, before touring the wards to see the work they do.
“This is a relatively new concept dating back only to 2017 and I was very impressed with the training and the motivation of those taking part,” said Theresa.
“The is a win-win because it gives people a chance to obtain a professional qualification who would maybe never have considered studying for a traditional degree in nursing.
“It is also a great help to Barnet Hospital day-to-day because this initiative is allowing it to train up its staff and expand the number of nurses on wards.
"I strongly support the Government's programme to deliver more apprenticeships because this gives people the opportunity to achieve their potential and get on in life. The Nursing Associate course run by Middlesex University is a great illustration of this principle."
The programme offers on and off-the-job training with at least four placements in different healthcare settings every year. Apprentices attend study weeks in university as well as undertaking practical training.
Mentoring, assessment and progress reviews take place throughout the course to ensure standards are high. Middlesex University was one of 11 pilot sites in England to be awarded a contract in January 2017 to develop the Nursing Associate Programme.