The Welsh Assembly has announced an increase in the number of nurse pre-registration places to be funded in the next academic year.
The number of courses to be funded by the assembly from September 2009 is based on recommendations from the NHS, staff and unions on future workforce requirements.
A new two-year post-graduate pre-registration nursing programme for students with relevant first degrees in a health-related subject will be established, while training on the traditional three-year nursing courses will also be increased.
Other increases include a 15% rise in midwifery training places in recognition on the increasing birth rate, a 30% increase in mental health nursing places in recognition of the increased investment in mental health services needed, while community nursing degree places will be increased by 2% and modular community education for qualified nurses to become community nurses will be increased by 41%.
Health minister for Wales Edwina Hart said: ‘The staff in the NHS is its most important asset. This is an exciting time to be working in the NHS with the administrative changes taking place this year. These extra training places will ensure that we continue to have the appropriate levels of staff to meet the health and social care needs of the future.
‘I am determined that the NHS becomes more flexible enabling staff to have a better work-life balance. By having more nurses in the NHS, we will be able to reduce our reliance on bank and agency nurses, which will ultimately reduce costs. This is essential as the level of investment seen in the NHS in previous years cannot be sustained given the economic climate and we must therefore do more with what we have,’ she said.
RCN Wales director Tina Donnelly added: ‘RCN Wales welcomes the increase in training places for nurses. We have had discussions with the Minister on the need to develop a robust workforce capable of meeting the needs of patients. We hope to see more nurses treating more patients in a variety of settings and these increases are welcome.’
Related article: Pre-registration training: The bigger picture