Funding has been confirmed for the first 200 apprentices to train as doctors over the next two years, Health Education England (HEE) have recently announced – marking an important step towards making careers in medicine more accessible.
This will help develop a sustainable workforce and bring more frontline medics into the NHS, no matter their background.
The new Medical Doctor Degree Apprenticeship aims to provide an alternative route into medicine to deliver a diverse workforce that is more representative of local communities.
A HEE funding package has been agreed for a pilot programme for up to 200 apprentices over the next two years. This will support healthcare employers to meet the costs of taking on apprentices, including staffing costs while apprentices are undertaking education and training.
The apprenticeship, developed by employers and medical schools with support from HEE and a range of partners, provides a route into medicine where people can train to nationally recognised standards and earn a wage at the same time. This could benefit anyone who may have struggled to pursue a traditional medical degree education or full-time university course.
Apprentices will typically undertake a five-year apprenticeship during which they will complete all elements of medical education, academic and practical, including a medical degree, the Medical Licensing Assessment and meet all requirements set out by the General Medical Council.
Up to £50,000 will be available to employers for each apprentice, in addition to apprenticeship funding and the usual funding support provided to medical schools for each place.
HEE is engaging with medical schools that have already registered an interest in piloting the apprenticeship.
Professor Liz Hughes, Medical Director for undergraduate education at HEE, said: “I am delighted with the announcement of this new funding to enable healthcare employers to deliver up to 200 more doctors to grow our domestic pipeline in a way that supports widening access and participation as well as encouraging employment within hard to recruit areas.
“This funding boost will help to support hundreds of apprentices to gain the skills they need and earn while they learn.
“HEE looks forward to working with pilot partners to support the implementation of this apprenticeship. HEE will support employers to develop innovative models for delivering this apprenticeship and share lessons learned from existing healthcare apprenticeships.”
Minister for Health, Will Quince, said: “These 200 new apprenticeships give people the opportunity to earn as they learn and are an important step towards removing barriers, ensuring anyone with the ability, passion and determination can be a doctor – regardless of their background.
“On top of record numbers of staff working in the NHS – with 4,700 more doctors and over 10,500 more nurses – this is part of our plans to boost the workforce to give patients the confidence they can access the right care at the right time, especially as we continue to face pressures caused by Covid, flu and winter.”
Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, Robert Halfon, said: “Our NHS needs highly skilled workers more than ever, so I am delighted that funding has been secured for our new medical doctor degree apprenticeships, building on our vital healthcare apprenticeships and nursing degree apprenticeships.
“This is huge step forward in improving the accessibility of the medical profession, by giving people from all backgrounds the chance to earn while they learn and climb the ladder of opportunity, which is central to the government’s mission to meet the country’s skills needs by investing in highly skilled apprenticeships.
“This is also great news for recruitment in the healthcare sector, which will benefit from a new pipeline of diverse talent equipped with the essential skills needed to meet the growing demand for highly skilled professionals.”
Further details on the funding available for apprenticeships can be found here.