02 / 04 / 2013
Apprenticeship qualifications have gained momentum on both a local and national level and are especially valued because of their consistency with a range of national priorities, including improved patient outcomes and increased staff efficiency. Healthcare organisations across Britain are therefore working towards a renewed focus on education and training in this area. Furthermore, apprenticeships are being used to promote one of the central pledges in the 2010 NHS Constitution: to provide staff with personal development, access to appropriate training and the line management support necessary to fulfil their potential.
Since publication of the NHS South Central Apprenticeship Strategy in 2009, over 2,500 apprenticeships have been embarked upon by members of the non-registered workforce across NHS South Central (Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight).
What we did
We commissioned a research study to quantify the benefits of apprenticeships across NHS South Central since April 2009. The aim of this study was to establish the value of apprenticeships in improving patient care and service delivery across the region. Although apprenticeship frameworks are accessed by staff in both clinical and non-clinical positions, this report focused on individuals who regularly engage with patients.
Interviews were conducted with service managers who were responsible for qualified apprentices across NHS South Central. A number of common themes emerged which included their desire for changes to the practice of apprentices, improvements to patient care and service delivery, enhanced interactions (between apprentices, their teams and patients), the need for more effective support for apprentices and better advice for managers.
Although this was a small scale research study, it highlighted how apprenticeships have helped to formalise the skills and competencies of individual learners. This has led to an increase in the available mix of skills, helped free up the time of registered staff, improved productivity levels and achieved financial savings. All of these changes were attributed to the successful implementation of apprenticeship programmes.
When questioned about their hopes for apprenticeships, managers indicated a desire for their staff to become more flexible within the workplace, to gain increased knowledge and confidence, to improve morale and to enhance the self-esteem of members of the non-registered workforce.
What we found
The overwhelming majority of managers interviewed during this study stated that apprenticeships should be embraced and offered widely to staff across bands 1-4. Managers were clear about the benefits of apprenticeships, including those experienced by the individual learner and their fellow team members. More importantly, managers stressed the improved set of outcomes for both patients and their families.