As part of my job I get out to conferences and meet nurses who have taken some time out to learn and network with others. I also spend too much time looking at Twitter, which gives the impression that everyone who works in the NHS spends most of their time at conferences.
So it was a stark reminder when a nurse recently told me that it cost her £700 to take her asthma diploma – and she had to do it in her own time.
For many nurses the opportunity to spend a couple of days at a conference is unlikely. Even getting an afternoon off to attend a link nurse session is a luxury and many do these roles in their own time. While dedication should be applauded, and as professionals perhaps it is accepted that some study is done in our own time, I wonder if the “good will” approach is sustainable.
Since the Francis Report there has been a considerable amount of rhetoric around education and staffing levels but very little in terms of tangible change. The results of our survey published a few weeks ago showed that nurses still feel undervalued overworked and underpaid.
The problem is that as trusts throw money at increasing nursing numbers and addressing training needs, demand on services continue to rise and we are just running to catch up.
Nursing numbers and training opportunities have been forced up the list of priorities in many trusts but the reality is they are often paid for at the expense of another part of the service because, let’s face it, there is no additional money.
So where does this leave my friend who is paying £700 for her asthma course?
To be honest, I’m not sure. It is possible to argue that training not only benefits the service you work in but is also part of personal professional development and the financial cost and time should be shared.
An interesting argument if salaries keep pace with inflation, but I am sure many of you have felt the pinch in the last few years.
So what is the alternative? I would be interested to hear.