What is the background behind the Healthcare Assistant Apprenticeship Scheme?

Some practices are starting to reshape their workforce by increasing the number of Health Care Assistants (HCAs) to alleviate pressures on already stretched nursing teams. HEE is keen to promote an expansion of the HCA workforce within primary care by providing a standardised regional programme to ensure that HCAs in general practice have the knowledge and skills required to understand the role they are delegated.

Practices that meet a defined set of criteria are eligible to receive bursary funding to support HCAs completing an apprenticeship in clinical healthcare support, plus primary care specific ‘bolt-on’ modules (Venepuncture/ ECG/ Wound Care/ Motivational Interviewing and First Aid.)

Apprenticeships provide quality developmental routes for existing staff or new recruits and are a cost-effective solution to recruitment and employment. This bespoke apprenticeship delivers skills designed around the needs of the practice and help to develop the skilled workers required for the future to achieve organisational objectives. 

The Primary Care Workforce & Training Hub is working in partnership with our local training provider (Barnsley College) to provide ongoing support to practices involved in the HCA Scheme for the current financial year.

The details:

Payment:

£6800 payable after 6 weeks and once the SY&B Primary Care Workforce & Training Hub has received the name of the HCA and their supervisor, plus a copy of the induction/ educational plan for the apprentice HCA. NB: £300 of this must be paid to the Further Education provider to cover the employers’ levy for the cost of the apprenticeship.

Training:

  • L3 Diploma in Healthcare Support
  • Care Certificate
  • Level 2 English and Maths (if not already achieved)
  • Dementia Awareness training (Tier 1)

Plus: Primary Care-specific ‘bolt-on’ modules:

  • Venepuncture
  • ECG
  • Wound Care
  • Motivational Interviewing & Health Promotion
  • First Aid

Allocation:

No minimum number, practices can employ more than one HCA. 

Requirements:

Mentor in the practice to support the learner. The HCA must be employed by the practice for a minimum of 30 hours per week for the full duration of their training (12-18 months) and must be paid no less than the national minimum wage for this period (at least £5.90 per hour.) There should be a commitment from the practice to employ the HCA at the end of the training period.

Frequently Asked Questions:

 We already have a HCA…why do we need more?

Retirement statistics show that there will be 33% less nurses over the next few years; HCAs can relieve some of the pressure on already stretched nursing teams. With the introduction of the Nurse Associate role and the Nurse Apprenticeship, HCAs are potentially your future nursing workforce.

HCAs can generate income in the practice by running clinics and managing calls/ recalls of targeted patient groups. They are often local people who have a vested interest in their communities and therefore offer a great return on your investment.

If we sign up to the HCA Apprenticeship, what is the cost to the practice?

The practice only needs to pay the Employers’ Levy for the cost of the apprenticeship (£300 to the Further Education provider.) For the duration of the apprenticeship, the practice must pay a minimum of £5.90 per hour (national living wage) to the apprentice. 

How much time out of the practice will the apprentice need?

The apprentice will be in college for one day per month for the duration of the apprenticeship. They are also required to be given 20% of their working week for “off the job training.”

What input is needed from the Mentor at the practice?

Every apprenticeship is different according to individual Mentors and apprentices, but typically Mentors can expect to spend the first few months having their clinics observed by their apprentices. During this time, apprentices complete work on the Care Certificate, which must be signed off by the Mentor.

When the Mentor is satisfied that the apprentice is competent and has been trained sufficiently, the apprentice can start running their own clinics. Mentors/ other staff members may need to be available during these times to answer any immediate queries or to talk things through with their apprentices at the end of the day. Monthly reviews between Mentors and apprentices are usually standard. 

What is our ‘commitment to employ’ at the end of the training period?

The HCA Apprenticeship funding is on the understanding that there is a role for the HCA in the practice after the training is complete. 

What happens if we are unable to employ our apprentice at the end of the training period?

If there is a business reason why the ‘commitment to employ’ cannot be fulfilled by the practice, then there would be no penalty. It is hoped that the practice would help the apprentice to find work elsewhere.

What happens if we feel that our apprentice is not suitable to work at the practice at the end of the training period?

The HCA should be treated as any other member of staff at the practice, subject to the same type of performance reviews. If the apprentice is not suitable for continued employment in the practice, the usual procedures would apply.

 

Interested in the HCA Scheme and want to find out more?

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