Speaking last week at a parliamentary briefing that was organised by NT, she told MPs she agreed that current difficulties nurses faced in accessing post-registration training were ‘unacceptable’.
Ms Keen said she would do everything in her power to reverse the present situation, which led 52% of 4,000 nurses surveyed by NT at the beginning of the year to say they were not receiving enough training from their trust.
‘It is unacceptable that nurses have had to pay for their own training and have done it in their own time,’ she said.
‘While I am in this job, I will do everything that I can to make sure this stops. I give you my commitment.’
Ms Keen delivered her remarks after listening to two frontline nurses and RCN director Janet Davies, who explained the difficulties nurses faced in accessing post-registration training.
Joanna Smith, senior staff nurse at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, told Ms Keen that nurses were subsidising the NHS by often paying for their own training and too much was expected of members of the profession.
‘I value post-registration training but after a week of marathon shifts, trying to muster the energy to study on precious days off – which are meant to be the time to recover physically and mentally – is often extremely difficult,’ she said. ‘However, that is the reality of what nurses are being asked to do.’
Maria Gough, senior nurse practitioner with West Essex PCT, warned: ‘As a qualified nurse and workplace mentor, I am aware that many nurses do not display the level of ability I would expect at their stage. I believe this lack of knowledge is due to a lack of access to post-registration training.’
NT’s Time Out For Training campaign, which was launched in January, aims to improve access to ongoing education for nurses.
As part of this goal, NT is petitioning the government to ringfence budgets given to strategic health authorities to pay for nurse training.
Since 2005, around £600m has been diverted from training budgets and some SHAs continued using this money to help balance their books in the last financial year (NT News, 3 June, p3).