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Thousands more nursing associates and nurses to train each year, pledges Hunt

  • 9 Comments

More than 12,000 nursing associates are to begin training through apprenticeships in England by 2019, the health secretary was set to announce today as part of a major boost to the workforce that also sees the government commit to more registered nurses.

In addition to the 2,000 associates already in training this year at pilot sites, 5,000 more will begin in 2018 and 7,500 every year from 2019 onwards, Jeremy Hunt was due to confirm this morning at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

“This represents the biggest increase in nurse training places in the history of the NHS - and we will make sure that many of the additional places go to healthcare assistants”

Jeremy Hunt

In addition, it is estimated that up to around half of each year’s cohort of nursing associates will go on to further training to become a registered nurse after they have completed the initial two-year associate programme.

This is expected to result in around 4,600 extra nurses by 2022, according to government estimations.

Meanwhile, on top of the government’s previous commitment to ensure 10,000 more nurses begin undergraduate training at university by 2020 – which it pledged following the removal of student bursaries – the health secretary was due to say that this figure will increase by around a further 5,500.

Over the summer, the Department of Health made a last-minute announcement to boost clinical placement funding for universities and NHS trusts from this September onwards to support an increase in the number of student nurses.

A Department of Health spokeswoman confirmed to Nursing Times that today’s pledge to train a further 5,500 will be supported with government funding to provide additional clinical placements.

If enough people apply, this placement funding will initially allow the number of student nurses at university to rise from 20,680 this academic year to 25,850 in 2018 - an increase of 25%.

Mr Hunt was expected to say that the increases will “jump start” nurse training, needed to ensure the NHS can look after a million more people who will be aged over 75 in the next decade.

“Combined with the 25% increase in medical school places announced last year, this will transform the ability of our NHS to cope with the pressures ahead”

Jeremy Hunt

“This represents the biggest increase in nurse training places in the history of the NHS - and we will make sure that many of the additional places go to healthcare assistants training on hospital sites, allowing us to expand our nurse workforce with some highly experienced people already working on the NHS frontline,” he was due to say.

“Combined with the 25% increase in medical school places announced last year, this will transform the ability of our NHS to cope with the pressures ahead.”

Meanwhile, the health secretary was due to announce a package of measures to improve retention of NHS staff.

More return to practice courses will be made available nurses who want to come back to the profession.

A new system of bank working will also be established to ensure flexible working arrangements for staff and help to reduce the money spent by employers on agency workers.

“We are concerned at the risk of students plugging the gaps in the current workforce at the expense of quality patient care and their own learning experience”

Janet Davies

In addition 3,000 NHS employees will be provided with first refusal on affordable housing generated through the sale of surplus NHS land.

The Royal College of Nursing said significant increases to the number of nurses being trained was welcome but warned that students should not be used to plug gaps in the workforce.

The union also criticised the plans for being “too hospital-focused” and stressed that nurses of the future required a flexible education that would allow them to work across community settings as well.

“Significant increases to training numbers is welcome - we desperately need more nurses. However, they must be educated to the highest standards,” said Janet Davies, RCN chief executive and general secretary.

“We are concerned at the risk of students plugging the gaps in the current workforce at the expense of quality patient care and their own learning experience,” she added.

“It’s understandable that the government want to increas[e] the number of registered nurses and nursing associates, however our role is to protect the public”

Jackie Smith

The Nursing and Midwifery Council, which is not due to begin regulating nursing assoicates until 2019 and has yet to approve training programmes for the role, stressed the importance of public protection following today’s announcement by the health secretary.

The body also highlighted that it was “working closely” with education providers to establish what further training an associate would require to meet its standards to become a registered nurse.

”The pressures facing the health and care workforce have been widely acknowledged and our own register has seen a decline in those registered to work in the UK,” said NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith.

”It’s understandable that the government want to address these challenges by increasing the number of registered nurses and nursing associates, however our role is to protect the public by making sure that all those wishing to join our register meet our rigorous standards,” she said.

“It is essential that there is a region by region, university by university, allocation of these places as soon as possible”

Professor David Green

“If the necessary changes to our legislation go through on time, we would expect nursing associates who have completed their training and met our standards to join the register in January 2019. Those standards will ensure a clear distinction between the graduate registered nurse and the nursing associate,” added Ms Smith.

University of Worcester chief executive and vice-chancellor Professor David Green noted that government announcements to boost nurse training earlier in the year - through creating additional placements - had been too slow to materialise and called for today’s pledges to be realised “as soon as possible”.

”We very much hope that these 5,000 nurse places will be released immediately. In January the government announced that there would be 10,000 new places, but none were actually created until mid-August, when 1,500 were announced for courses starting just three weeks later,” he said.

“Our NHS faces a 40,000 shortfall of nurses because of reduction of training places, seven years of capped pay, and the scrapping of the nurses’ bursary”

Jonathan Ashworth 

”If 5,000 is the new number for next year, and thousands more nursing associate places will be created in addition, it is essential that there is a region by region, university by university, allocation of these places as soon as possible,” he added.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said today’s announcement would fail to reverse the damage done by the government, which had caused a shortage of nurses.

“Our NHS faces a 40,000 shortfall of nurses because of reduction of training places, seven years of capped pay, and the scrapping of the nurses’ bursary. On top of this record of failure, Theresa May’s shambolic handling of Brexit means more European Union nurses could leave the NHS,” he said.

“Our NHS needs what Labour pledged in our manifesto - bring back the nurses’ training bursary and give nurses the pay rise they deserve,” he added.

 

 

  • 9 Comments

Readers' comments (9)

  • If this government genuinely cared about nurse shortages they would re introduce the bursary acknowledging that properly qualified nurses are required for the challenges of the role today.

    The role of the nursing associate hasnt't been officially decided and the NMC havnt agree to their regulation as yet. How on earth can this be seen as an answer to staffing problems?

    Despite his "concerns" for our health and family life and his faux praise of the nursing profession Hunt couldnt quite bring himself to agree to a decent pay rise.

    Things can only get worse.

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  • I am a mature student with 15 years experience working for the NHS. I have three children and my husband now has to support us all for the next three years. I am unable to work due to the timetable and placements including the whole of the school summer holidays. This means no more family holidays in the summer. I knew this before I started and thought long and hard before starting the course. I am already feeling very worried about how this is going to impact my family life. I am along with many others going to be in debt for the rest of my working life. Anxious times for everybody working for our wonderful hard working NHS.

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  • All this government does is back track... They said all nurses needed a degree and the scrapped the bursary and now WHOOPS we are short of nurses so we will fund training and you can train on the job... Who voted for this joke of a prime minister and her clown party...

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  • So we are going back to the 'in service' training of old. There was nothing wrong with that, to insist on every new nurse to be a graduate is insane. Unfortunately this has resulted in care standards and available staff on the wards to be dropped. There would have been nothing wrong with having ward trained RGNs and degree nurses working together but this ridiculous idea that everyone needs to go to uni has destroyed what was good care. I am not saying that uni nurses are no good but not everyone wants to go to uni. It's the NHS that has lost out. And now to taking the bursaries away is a disgrace.

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  • All very well training extra people (assuming people actually apply for the places), but if experienced registrants continue to leave then the situation will still not improve. Nurses urgently need a pay rise, and more flexibility over working conditions in order to retain good staff, or it will be like pouring water into a huge leaking vessel.

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  • "So we are going back to the 'in service' training of old. There was nothing wrong with that" NHSFT 'growing their own' , training local people who are less likely to move on...sound so familiar.
    Nursing Associates- taking us back to the 50's, but sanitising the reintroduction of what is in effect the SEN by sending them to University.
    I have no issue with the degree, but should be a 1-2 year post registration requirement to be done while employed, within 2 or 3 years of the completion of the RGN qualification date and paid for by the trust, if the degree is here to stay. Putting low paid workers in debt for years is ludicrous and counterproductive. Those like me who trained in the 70s and 80s saw this coming. Over reliance on foreign staff and poor staff ratios. The days of 2 or 3 students from each year populating the off duty ,supporting each other and still 'mentored' by qualified staff reporting to the Ward Sister worked. Very few unequipped nurses made it to exams!

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  • Research report after research report shows the clear association between the number of RNs and outcomes including mortality and that diluting the skill mix also increases its risk. Just check out articles by L Aiken, J Ball , P Griffiths and P Myint. it is shocking that the evidence is just ignored.

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  • I have been nursing for 30 years and am one of the very fortunate healthcare assistants to be awarded an apprenticeship for the assistant practitioner role, I am thrilled to be chosen as I would not have been able to go to university myself. I will be paid a band 3 wage for 2 years whilst training, what a wonderful opportunity, I have the skills and knowledge to succeed and make a damn good healthcare practitioner and I genuinely care about the patients. Patients first that's what counts!! Thank you government for acknowledging the amazing talents that our healthcare assistants have and what hard work we do.

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  • Help to support the amazing staff we already have, develop the healthcare assistants and support the nurses. Make more opportunities and attract more caring, kind and compassionate people to the NHS.

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