The government in Wales has announced it will increase nurse pre-registration course places by 13% this year, along with boosts for community and practice training, as part of a £95m investment in healthcare education.
An additional £10m has been made available compared with last year and part of the money will be used to allow an extra 192 student nurses to start on courses in 2017-18, said the Welsh government.
“This £95m investment will ensure that our healthcare professionals are able to provide high quality care now and in the future”
Some of the investment will also be used to boost advanced nurse training through a “significant increase” in practice and district nurse education, said the government, which has set aside an extra £500,000 for general practice to help move care closer to home.
Meanwhile, it said midwifery training places will increase by around 40% this year. An additional cohort of physician associate training places will also be available from September 2017, with 12 of these places hosted by Bangor University and 20 hosted by Swansea University.
However, no extra money will be provided to train more healthcare support workers, with investment maintained at £1.5m. Although £250,000 of this will be used for general practice.
Across a range of healthcare professions, the total number of student training places for 2017-18 will increase by 3,000.
The boost to nurse training places is on top of a 10% increase in 2016-17 and 22% increase in 2015-16.
“The additional investment in the education of district nurses, community psychiatric nurses and practice nurses is particularly welcomed”
Health secretary for Wales Vaughan Gething said: “We rely on the skills, knowledge and experience of those providing the care in the NHS on a daily basis.
“This includes nurses and paramedics as well as those behind the scenes, who provide vital support services such as laboratory tests to enable diagnoses to be made and treatment to be provided,” he said in a statement.
“Education and training is fundamental to ensuring the sustainability of our workforce,” he said.
“This £95m investment will ensure that our healthcare professionals are able to provide high quality care now and in the future and that patients’ will be able to receive care closer to home,” he added.
The Royal College of Nursing in Wales said it was “delighted” with the increase in investment, highlighting the ongoing staffing pressures within the NHS.
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“The additional investment in the education of district nurses, community psychiatric nurses and practice nurses is particularly welcomed,” said Peter Meredith-Smith, RCN Wales’ associate director for employment relations.
“The RCN in Wales has argued for years now that investment in community staffing infrastructure in Wales has not kept pace with changing models of care across the country, with a shift of care from hospitals to community settings,” he said.
He noted it would take a number of years before nurses completed their training, but that “the impact of this announcement on the morale of frontline staff should not be under-estimated”.
He highlighted that the increase in investment in clinical staff would support the introduction of new nurse staffing laws, brought in last year and due to be implemented in full by 2018.
“The priority now is for education providers across Wales and the NHS in Wales to ensure that this investment is well used to improve the quality and sustainability of services to Welsh citizens,” he added.