The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education has approved the apprenticeship standard for District Nursing.

The occupational standard has been given approval subject to one minor amendment and comes after eighteen months of work involving key stakeholders, including employers, approved higher education providers professional nursing organisations. The trailblazer group that prepared the draft standard has been led by Queen’s Nurse Steph Lawrence, Interim Executive Director of Nursing at Leeds Community Healthcare and Leeds GP Confederation.

The standard will not be ready for delivery until the end point assessment has been approved later in the year. Once finalised, the new standard will lead to a new national apprenticeship model for District Nurse specialist education in England and will provide an employer-funded route to achieving the NMC approved District Nurse qualification.

Welcoming the announcement from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, Steph Lawrence commented:  ‘After two years of dedicated work, we are pleased to have district nursing recognised as unique occupation and enable continuation of training which is crucial if we are to deliver more care in the community to meet the NHS long term plan.’

Dr Crystal Oldman CBE, Chief Executive of the Queen’s Nursing Institute, also welcomed the news:

‘We are delighted that the District Nurse apprenticeship standard has been approved. This is a testament to the hard work of Steph Lawrence and others, who had the vision, the knowledge and the determination to see the application process through from first beginnings in 2017.

‘The new NHS Long Term Plan in England places renewed emphasis on the importance of delivering high quality care to patients in the home and recognises that appropriately skilled and qualified District Nurses are the practitioners who will lead, manage, coordinate and deliver complex care, working autonomously within their communities in every village, town and city, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  District Nurses are the unsung heroes of the NHS, supporting people to be cared for safely at home and preventing thousands of hospital admissions every day.

‘Achieving approval of an apprenticeship standard for the District Nursing Specialist Practitioner Qualification demonstrates clear recognition of the highly skilled specialist role that is critical to patient safety and the overall success of the Long Term Plan for the NHS in England.  Given the recent doubts about continued funding from Health Education England for the District Nursing Specialist Practitioner Qualification, the new apprenticeship offers an alternative funding model for the qualification of District Nurse, alongside but not replacing the existing funding model. There is a very bright future ahead for all nurses coming into the District Nursing service.’

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