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Johnson pledges training support

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The government will act to ensure nurses can gain better access to post-graduate training, health secretary Alan Johnson told congress.

Mr Johnson acknowledged disparity in access to training nationally, as highlighted by NT’s Time Out for Training campaign. ‘We will consider what more needs to be done to ensure nurses can access the training and development they need throughout their careers,’ he said.

‘I am amazed at the sacrifices nurses make to acquire training that benefits the service. Nurses should not be expected to use their holiday time, or contribute towards costs for training that help them meet the needs of their patients. This is unacceptable in all other professions, there’s no reason why it should be acceptable for nurses,’ he added.

NT is lobbying SHAs to stop raiding multi-professional education and training budgets. But in an interview with NT after his speech, Mr Johnson would not be drawn on whether the government would ringfence this funding.

Mr Johnson signalled support for an all-graduate nursing profession in England in his speech.

He said the government was discussing the idea with nurses as part of the NHS review conducted by junior health minister Lord Darzi. ‘There is a strong case for this, all other health professions in England are moving towards this goal,’ he said.

‘Nurses are expected to work with increased autonomy and responsibility, they work in more complex, varied environments and many spend years topping up their qualifications to degree level once registered,’ he added.

However, he warned that if the decision was made, the government must be sure it would not hinder recruitment.

Mr Johnson also announced that the Productive Ward pilot scheme, in which nurses are given time to analyse and reorganise wards to increase time spent on patient care, would be extended.

‘I want to work with the RCN and others to see more wards involved in this programme, so more nurses are able to reduce the time they spend on unnecessary paperwork and increase the time they spend with patients,’ he said.

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