Nursing apprentices near the end of their training have been given urgent special dispensations to allow them to be released for frontline services.
The move was made as the NHS comes under increasing strain in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak.
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The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education announced that with immediate effect and during the Covid-19 pandemic, registered nurse (RN) degree apprentices and nursing associate (NA) apprentices who have completed the Nursing and Midwifery Council-approved programme and who have been assessed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council as having permanently met the requirements for professional registration and have passed through the apprenticeship gateway "will be regarded to have met the end-point assessment (EPA) requirements and have achieved their apprenticeship".
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"This change to the EPA process will only be applied to qualifying apprentices during the Covid-19 crisis," the IfATE stressed. "The measure reflects the alignment of professional registration and EPA for the registered nurse and nursing associate apprenticeship programmes."
An IfATE spokesperson said: “We are supporting apprentices and employers by considering where we can introduce operating flexibilities across all apprenticeships in response to the current circumstances. Our top priority is everyone’s health and wellbeing, and then continuing the delivery of high-quality apprenticeships wherever possible.
“This temporary change is appropriate as it will not compromise quality and fits with the achievement of professional qualification. We are pleased to be able to support the nursing sector in this way and will continue to look at all apprenticeship assessment.”