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Cuts to nurse training budgets will be reversed, claims NHS chief

He promised to ensure a “meaningful expansion” in the number of undergraduate nurses.

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The head of NHS England promised he would ensure a “meaningful expansion” in the number of undergraduate nurses.

Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England, has offered a “personal guarantee” that the cuts to professional development budgets will be reversed and promised a “meaningful expansion” in undergraduate nursing numbers.

Stevens claimed that CPD budgets had orgionally been cut due to ‘funding reductions’ at Health Education England (HEE) but admitted he recognised the damage this had caused.

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In a statement at the Chief Nursing Officer for England’s summit today, he said; “We know we have got to provide the tools to enable proper career development for nurses, midwives and health visitors”.

“You have my personal guarantee that we will get a restoration, phased over the next five years, for the budgets we need for CPD,” he said.

Adding; “We have got to see a meaningful expansion of undergraduate nurses. There’s no substitute. Even despite the fact we are going to have wonderful nursing associates and new routes into nursing there’s no substitute for graduate nurses and we have obviously seen this big fall in the number of applications for undergraduate nursing”.

‘We need to see a meaningful expansion in undergraduate nursing’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Acting Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Nurses at every stage in their career will be pleased to hear the personal commitment by Simon Stevens this morning at the Chief Nursing Officer’s summit that the savage cuts to funding for Continuing Professional Development in England over the past five years will be reversed. Lack of training opportunities are regularly cited by nurses in surveys as one of the main reasons they are unhappy and may leave their jobs. 

We also welcome Simon Stevens’ announcement this morning that we need to see a meaningful expansion in undergraduate nursing. The most effective way to ensure this is to invest £1 billion immediately in nurse higher education, in order to reverse the serious fall in the numbers of students taking nursing degree courses – there are almost 1,000 fewer students on undergraduate courses now than there were in 2016/17, before the nursing bursary was removed. 

“The RCN is part of the Workforce Implementation Group and we will work constructively to hold NHS England to these pledges. We will continue to provide fully costed and worked-up plans for bringing about both these objectives.”

‘Recruitment and retention’.

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, said: “Nurses and midwives have such an important role in health and social care, in people’s communities, and in their lives. Being the regulator of such important and trusted professions is a real privilege.

But focussing on what more we, and the health and care system as a whole, can do to help tackle the recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives is one of the most vital contributions we can all make – and supporting the professionalism and pride of nurses and midwives across the UK now, and in the future, has got to be at the heart of that.

“Every nurse or midwife we lose has an impact and costs, in terms of both recruiting new people, as well as the opportunity cost of replacing their invaluable experience and knowledge.

“I really welcome today’s pledge to prioritise continuing professional development as being not only the right thing to do for nurses and midwives who love seeing the difference they make for people, but as the most effective thing to do too.

“Working together we – regulators, nurses, midwives and their employers, the public and our partners – can help provide the right conditions where nurses and midwives feel valued and can truly thrive and flourish.”

Workforce

Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.

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There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.

NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.

Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.

In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.

A new law is needed.

The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.

Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.

The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.

‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.

“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

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Workforce

NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce

Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.

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Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.

Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”

With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.

Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.

Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”

“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.

“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.

Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.

“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”

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