Nursing Apprenticeship Programme – creating a sustainable workforce

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Davie Wherrett, Director of Workforce

Lorraine Szeremeta, Chief Nurse

Delivering this nursing apprenticeship pathway at pace and scale is a significant part of the Trust’s sustainable workforce ambition. There are over 200 people undertaking the apprenticeship, rising to 400 by 2022 – one of the most ambitious schemes of its kind in the NHS.

The Trust had recruitment difficulties with a high staff turnover and an action plan set out to reduce nurse vacancy levels, agency spend and turnover. The apprenticeship initiative ran alongside traditional and overseas recruitment. The course fees are paid via the Trust’s levy contribution with additional investment of about £500k for the backfill costs of apprentices’ study time.

Key points:

  • Ambitious plan for 100 + nurse apprenticeships a year, sustainable and funded pipeline
  • Clinical education support teams, pastoral support, mentoring: low attrition rate
  • Opportunity to attract, develop and retain staff as never before: ‘earn and learn’
  • Achieved positive support from clinical and education staff.

Judges’ view:

A well-developed programme with clear strategic alignment, measurable ambition and exciting potential for scalability; the judges were  impressed by the demonstrable impact being seen at organisational, patient and individual level, with a well evidenced, strong sense of engagement from the Board throughout the Trust.



Innovation in Ambulance Education – What’s your Emergency?

North West Ambulance Service

Paula Davies, Head of Education

The apprenticeship levy gave the opportunity to think differently about the way to prepare and transform the emergency technician workforce through education. This was impossible to achieve via the standard routes of healthcare worker occupational standards.

The new Associate Ambulance practitioner L4 qualification was developed collectively by ambulance trusts and gave the opportunity to use the apprenticeship model to support training of EMT1 staff which the previous model did not offer.

Key points:

  • 18-week programme, work-based e-portfolio, assessment over 15-18 months
  • Benefit of working alongside experienced paramedics, mentoring
  • Potential to convert to paramedic degree roles with prior learning
  • Enhances flexibility and resilience of workforce, boosts recruitment.

Judges’ view

A great example of how an apprenticeship programme can positively impact on the culture and sense of belonging within a workforce, and how the learning can be scaled up and shared with partner organisations in different sectors.  




Growing our clinical workforce

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust

Shirley Yearsley, Head of Clinical Academy South East

Kent have been forerunners in developing a nursing academy, nurturing and supporting students during their studies. The ambition is to train nurses and AHPs who want to stay and work within the Trust as they can see the difference they make to patients’ lives.

Key points:

  • Introduced degree apprenticeships for associate and registered nurses, accredited by Open University
  • Apprentices fill healthcare assistant posts while they train, helping to reduce agency spend
  • Clinical student partners support apprentices in workplace.

Judge’s view

The panel were particularly impressed by the Academy Model, set up with the ambition to widen access to nursing and AHP career pathways, and Board investment and support to develop new, innovative roles to support education and clinical placements.  


Chamberlain Dunn Learning has been delivering bespoke learning and development programmes to public and third sector organisations throughout the UK for over twenty five years. It specialises in management, leadership, personal skills, finance and budgeting, and project management. Its 18-strong faculty of course leaders and associates are all highly experienced in these sectors and can deliver inspiring programmes to audiences of all levels.

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