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Internships suggested for new nurses in Wales

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A workforce inquiry has recommended an internship scheme be set up to help newly qualified nurses in Wales find work.

Under a scheme based on one in Scotland, nurses would also be sent details of vacant posts for 12 months after graduation.

The recommendation is one of 28 made to the Welsh Assembly by the Health, Wellbeing and Local Government Committee inquiry into workforce planning in health and social care.

The inquiry report warned that new nurses who had received ‘expensive training at the public expense’ might be lost if not enough posts were funded.

‘An [internship] scheme would ensure the consolidation of skills acquired in training as well as ensuring that these skills are not immediately lost to the public service,’ the report concluded.

The inquiry also raised concerns about a 10% decline in health visitor numbers between 1999 and 2006. It recommended this was tackled as a priority if the assembly wanted to keep promises made in Designed for Life, its 10-year health strategy.

However, the committee rejected an RCN call to place a statutory duty on managers to ensure there were appropriate staffing levels for patient care, saying this would be ‘too inflexible and cumbersome’. The college had said it was concerned by the excess hours worked by nurses.

Overall, the inquiry identified significant shortcomings in health and social care workforce planning in Wales, noting that it was ‘too often based on historic patterns rather than
on future needs’.

It said that only one fully trained workforce planner was employed by Wales’ central NHS workforce planning unit.

Tina Donnelly, RCN Wales director, said: ‘Workforce planning for the NHS in Wales is poor, relying almost solely on information from local employers. There is no effective provision to estimate the staffing numbers based on the health needs of the population.’

The assembly is expected to decide whether to accept the recommendations within the next 12 months.

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