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Thousands more placements to be funded to boost student nurse numbers

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Thousands of extra clinical placements will be funded in England by 2020 to allow additional nurses to train at university, starting from this year, under workforce plans being drawn up by the government.

The Department of Health is due to make the official announcement later this week but has confirmed to Nursing Times that it would be reinvesting some of the annual £1.2bn it expects to save from removing bursaries for trainee nurses, midwives and allied healthcare professionals.

“We are announcing funding for an extra 10,000 places for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals by 2020”

Department of Health

Details about the number of extra placements at NHS trusts and employers that will be available this year are expected to be confirmed next week, when many applicants will receive their exam results and universities begin filling empty spaces on their courses through the clearing process.

Since announcing the move to a loans system at the end of 2015, the government has claimed an extra 10,000 nurses, midwives and AHPs could be trained by 2020. It said this was because the number of course places universities offer would no longer be constrained by funding.

But universities have previously warned that it would not be possible to increase the number of students to this level without additional cash for clinical placements at the same time, noting that nurses must spend at least half of their training in practice.

Health Education England, the government’s arms-length workforce body, has previously said it had no extra money to fund more placements in the 2017-18 academic year.

In addition, the DH was due to release proposals at the end of 2016 about how it would fund clinical placements from 2018 onwards.

However, the government’s latest plans mean that HEE will now receive additional placement money for students starting from this September.

It is understood that the move is part of wider plans to ensure the NHS has more “home-grown” nurses after Brexit, when it is thought fewer European staff will come to work in the UK.

“It’s good to see the Government acknowledging the need for more UK nurses”

Janet Davies

The government also wants to reduce the amount of money the NHS spends on hiring agency nurses to fill staffing shortages.

A spokeswoman for the DH highlighted that this year there was still almost double the number of applications to nurse training places, adding that the department was confident the NHS would get the nurses it needed.

“We are announcing funding for an extra 10,000 places for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals by 2020 – which means we can recruit more home-grown talent from the thousands of applications that are rejected each year,” she said in a statement for Nursing Times.

In a story published on Monday trailing the expected workforce plans, The Telegraph reported that the NHS would “recruit an army of British nurses” after Brexit instead of paying expensive agency staff.

Responding to the Telegraph story, the Royal College of Nursing said it was “good to see” the government acknowledging the need for more UK nurses, highlighting that “staffing shortages are one of the biggest threats to patient safety”.

Janet davies

Janet davies

Janet Davies

RCN chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies said: “There just aren’t enough nurses in training to fill the thousands of vacant posts, and the removal of student nurse funding is only driving down applications further. Meanwhile, the pay cap is forcing many nurses out of the profession they love.

“With Brexit on the horizon, it’s crucial these issues are tackled head on,” she said. “This is about developing a strong and skilled workforce that is treated with respect.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • When I trained in the 70's and 80's there were enough staff nurses to supervise several layers of student. Under the eagle eyes of the Sister who gleaned knowledge and observations from her staff to write your end of ward report. Third years as part of their management placement and those in senior placements to juniors would help hand down practical knowledge and skills- effectively mentoring- those skills almost always superior to that of nurse students in practice today because of the limitations universities put in place. I could run a bag of saline and attach it by the end of my ward placement independently! Universities don't have enough placements for students because wards seem to be unable to manage more than one or two students at a time. I tried to get a third year to work with a second year just before I left. I set ground rules and expectations. Neither could manage the task set so heaven help them when they qualify. It was no better when I put them with a HCA to 'manage' a group of patients. Without the qualified nurses for this additional workload trusts and universities are going to be forced to look back and see how we managed a large group of nurses. At CXH we had a whole set of 3rd years between 3 wards for their trauma module. if one had done their medicines assessment- they could do a drug round together safely. They were expected to manage a group of patients with minimal supervision. Unless we can get back to student mentoring it is going to be a disaster. Raising the bar for students so they will be able to hit the wards running. Something they cannot do at the moment. Speaking with a nurse who trained in the 60's today. She has had to tell students how to do things when she has been a patient. Tasks she would have learned in PTS!

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  • I totally agree with the above comments.

    Reading this article it seems that HEE don't have a clue about nursing today.

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