IfA funding band review: Healthcare standard set for 67 per cent funding increase

A healthcare apprenticeship standard is set to have its funding band increased by a massive 67 per cent following the Institute for Apprenticeships’ rate review.

The level three senior healthcare support worker will have its maximum funding cap increased from £3,000 to £5,000, according to Jane Hadfield, national senior programme manager for apprenticeships at Health Education England and Kay Fawcett, a registered nurse and consultant, the co-chairs of the employer group that developed it.

The pair also told FE Week that the rate for the level five healthcare assistant practitioner standard is set to stay the same, at £12,000.

“We are keen to recognise the input of our Trailblazer employers and apprenticeship providers for their ongoing support, in achieving this recommendation,” Ms Hadfield and Ms Fawcett said in a joint statement.

Both standards were developed by a wide number of organisations including NHS trusts, the Royal College of Nursing and the Ministry of Defence.

The level three standard, approved for delivery in October 2016, is designed to train apprentices to “help registered practitioners deliver healthcare services”.

It had 1,820 starts in the first nine months of 2017/18, making it the 21st most popular apprenticeship standard.

A senior healthcare support worker will “provide high quality, compassionate healthcare, following standards, policies or protocols”.

This could include assisting with clinical or therapeutic tasks, helping with a patient’s overall comfort and responding to signs of discomfort.

Meanwhile, an assistant practitioner works “at a level above that of healthcare support workers” and has a “more in-depth understanding about factors that influence health and ill-health”.

The standard was approved in May 2016, and it had 1,160 starts between August 2017 and April 2018, making it the 26th most popular standard.

It can be used as a stepping stone towards becoming a registered practitioner, with the apprenticeship providing credit in some higher education programmes “aligned to professional registration”.

The IfA’s funding band review, launched in May, was intended to “help make sure that employers can access high quality apprenticeships and that funding bands represent good value for money for employers and government”.

It covers 31 standards – including some of the most popular.

Analysis at the time the review was launched found that the 31 represented 64 per cent of all starts on standards for the first half of 2017/18 (45,900 out of 71,720).

The healthcare standards are the first that FE Week is aware of not to have had their funding bands cut following the review.

The level two hair professional standard is set to be cut by 22 per cent, from £9,000 to £7,000.

Three management standards – including the level three team leader/ supervisor, responsible for the highest number of starts of any standard – will be reduced by between 10 and 22 per cent.

The level two customer service practitioner standard is facing a 13 per cent reduction, from £4,000 to £3,500, and the level two retailer standard will have its funding cap reduced from £5,000 to £4,000.

Each of these proposals is subject to potential appeal by the employer groups behind them, and final approval by the education secretary, Damian Hinds.

Writing for FE Week, the IfA’s chief executive Sir Gerry Berragan insisted that the “collaborative approach” it had taken with the reviews was working.

Some of the reviews had resulted in recommendation that the bands “stay the same, some increase, and some decrease”, he said.

The IfA has also refused FE Week’s request for a full list of its recommendations, insisting it would be “premature” to do so.