The most senior nurse at the regulator NHS Improvement has vowed to fight for better training opportunities for qualified nurses to enhance their skills.
Dr Ruth May, who is NHS Improvement’s executive chief nurse and also one of England’s deputy chief nursing officers, said the lack of continuing professional development (CPD) was pushing nurses out of the profession.
“The lack of CPD has had a negative impact on retention I’m absolutely convinced of that”
She is helping to develop the upcoming NHS 10-year plan, the future development of which was first revealed in June by prime minister Theresa May. The NHS 10-year plan is due to be published in November, according to the organisation NHS Providers.
Speaking at the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) annual conference on Tuesday, Dr May vowed to put forward the case for better access to CPD.
“The lack of CPD has had a negative impact on retention I’m absolutely convinced of that and that’s why I’m arguing very heavily to ensure CPD is there in the new long-term plan,” she said. ”I would want to see that restored in the proper amount.”
Dr May, who is on the workforce, training and leadership working group for the development of the NHS 10-year plan, urged delegates at the conference to put forward their views on what they want to see included in the blueprint through the Talk Health and Care website before 30 September.
“I have been heavily criticised for being critical of the cuts of CPD for our profession”
She added: “We have the opportunities as nurses and nurse leaders to influence what will be the priorities of the next 10 years.”
Earlier this month, nursing and social care staff were urged to post “ideas, questions and challenges” on the new digital platform that has been launched as part of a major new national engagement exercise.
Staff who visit the site will be asked about issues including ways to improve shift patterns, speed up the use of technology, increase access to training and development, and reduce bullying and harassment.
The Department of Health and Social Care touted the engagement exercise as the “biggest health and social care conversation in British history”, involving millions of health and social care staff.
Meanwhile, a delegate at the QNI conference told Dr May that many nurses working in GP surgeries were “hacked off” with the variation in their conditions of employment and that some were made to take annual leave for CPD.
In response, Dr May said putting practice nurses on the Agenda for Change pay scheme could offer a “wonderful opportunity” to address some of the issues they faced.
As reported by Nursing Times, workforce development funding in England – largely used for CPD for nurses – has been reduced by Health Education England by 60% in two years, from 205m in 2015, to £83.49m in 2017. The budget for 2018-19 has initially been frozen, at £83.49m.
Brian Webster-Henderson, chair of the Council of Deans of Health and a professor of nursing, also used his speech at this week’s community nursing conference to highlight concerns about CPD.
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Professor Webster-Henderson gave evidence at the end of last year as part of the government health select committee inquiry into nurse shortages.
As reported by Nursing Times, Professor Webster-Henderson told the MPs sitting on the committee that cuts to CPD were “nonsense”.
Addressing the QNI conference, Professor Webster-Henderson said: “I have been heavily criticised….for being critical of the cuts of CPD for our profession.
“But I couldn’t live with myself if I went to government and didn’t mention it – it’s important funding for CPD is at the centre of the agenda,” he added.