Midwifery degree apprentices – a national strategy
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Royal College of Midwives, London, United Kingdom
Publication date: 2023-10-24
Corresponding author
Heather Bower   

Royal College of Midwives, London, United Kingdom
Eur J Midwifery 2023;7(Supplement 1):A107
There is a shortage of midwives in the UK and the number of midwives continues to decrease1. Since the NHS bursary for healthcare students was removed in England in 2017, there has been a reduction in the number of mature, local students entering midwifery. In response to workforce need, the first Registered Midwifery Degree Apprenticeship (RMDA) programmes were commenced in 2020 as part of a pilot of three universities. These pilot sites and subsequent programmes have now been evaluated.

Material and Methods:
A trailblazer group was set up to develop the RMDA apprenticeship standard2. The standard aligned with the standards for midwifery education set by the professional body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)3. The pilot universities then approved their RMDA programmes with the NMC. The first RMDA programme commenced in January 2020 and there are now five programmes running throughout England, with another six programmes approved or in approval. A mixed methods evaluation has been undertaking to identify the benefits and issues associated with the RMDA from the perspective of apprentices, their employers and universities. This is the first evaluation of the RDMA programmes.

Evaluation of the programmes that are running has demonstrated positive outcomes. Apprentices are employed by the Trust during their programme, therefore recruitment of apprentices is Trust-led. This creates a stronger sense of belonging to the Trust where they undertake practice placements. Apprentices contribute to services whilst studying and are 'work-ready' when they qualify. The academic proficiency of apprentices is at least as good as 'traditional' students. Attrition of RMDAs is lower than for ‘traditional’ students, with almost no attrition during the pilot programmes. Local, mature apprentices are more likely to take up employment in the Trust where they qualified, therefore meeting local workforce needs.

The benefit of RMDA programmes is being recognised by the UK government, with RMDAs being promoted in the most recent maternity services policy document4. The positive evaluation provides evidence of the benefits of the programme to RMDAs, Trusts and to the wider maternity workforce. The greatest barrier is in funding the salary of apprentices while they are on the programme as this is not covered by the government’s apprenticeship levy. The Royal College of Midwives supports the apprenticeship route into midwifery and continues to lobby for the funding for further roll-out of RMDA programmes across England.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
Royal College of Midwives.
Bonar, S. Numberjacks: New calculations reveal growing midwife shortage. Published April 5, 2023. Accessed April 21, 2023.
Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. Midwife (2019 NMC standards) (Integrated degree). Published February 19, 2021. Accessed April 4, 2023. https://www.instituteforappren...
Nursing and Midwifery Council. Standards of proficiency for midwives. Published November 18, 2019. Accessed April 21, 2023.
NHS England NHS England. Three year delivery plan for maternity and neonatal services. Published March 30, 2023. Accessed April 21, 2023.
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