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Third of nurses pay for training with their own money


A third of nurses are having to use their own time and money to keep up to date with mandatory training because they cannot access it through the NHS, according to a survey by the Royal College of Nursing. 

The survey found that 32 per cent of the 3,086 respondents had been unable to access mandatory post registration training over the past 12 months in areas such as health and safety procedures, child protection and basic life support.  

As a result, 34 per cent said they were using annual leave to try and keep up to date and 39 per cent were self-funding their training in core areas including infection control and manual handling.

The most common reason given by nurses for being unable to do mandatory training was staff shortage and a lack of cover. Some respondents said even where training had been approved staff were often forced to cancel at short notice to cover shortages on wards.


The RCN findings appear to represent a worsening of the situation since last year, when a Nursing Times survey of 2,500 nurses and healthcare assistants found a quarter were “strongly considering” spending their own money on training courses (news, page 1, 27 January 2009). 

RCN executive director of nursing and service delivery Janet Davies said it was a “testament to the dedication” of some nurses that they were prepared to self fund or use their own time to update their practice.

But she added: “Many are simply unable to do this and staff should not be expected to. It is up to trusts and managers to ensure that staff are up to date and can access the training they need.”

The college claims the findings are a “red flag” indicator that the public sector spending squeeze is already starting to bite, as training has traditionally been an area vulnerable to cuts in times of economic pressure.  

Ms Davies said: “We know from previous economic downturns that training is often the first place managers look when they need to start making cuts.”

Nursing Times successfully campaigned for protected time and resources for postgraduate nurse training in 2008, culminating in the pledge to reform the way training was funded in the NHS next stage review


Readers' comments (11)

  • If training is necessary to do the job safely then it should be provided and the course and the nurses time should be paid for. Common sense.

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  • "Testament to Dedication" well thanks alot,so if i cant afford to pay for my own study am i not dedicated?guess not better carry on supporting my family and feeding them instead then!!!!!!!!!

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  • These nurses who pay for their own mandatory training are their own worse enemy and an NHS managers dream.

    Can nurses not see that while they are prepared to take any amount of crap working conditions things will never improve....i despair.

    If mandatory training lapses result in sub-standard care it is not the nurses is their managers and those above them for inadequate staffing levels.

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  • Martin Gray

    Where is the support from the NMC and unions in all this? After all it is our professional body that states we have to keep up to date, and the unions should be supportive of nurses training being paid for rather than at personal cost.

    Some mandatory training does not need to be done yearly and some may be evne be classed as unecessary if it is not applicable to GP practices, such as manual handling. Any money saved could then be transferred to pertinent staff training.

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  • Mandatory training, (ie compulsory or obligatory training) is set out and defined by the employer in order to enable the employee to carry out the work for which they are engaged. This is not set out by the individual nurse and so should be provided and paid for by their employer. It is madness to say "you need to do X training to work in my Trust" but then prevent the individual from doing it. Surely, this could be constued as constructive dismissal??

    Previous comments are right, where are the unions in this??

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  • Training to maintain registration is different to mandatory training. As professionals we are personally obliged to maintain our registration status and so our employers can't be held liable for provision of that type of training.

    Issues like fire training and manual handling are employers requirements; they need to provide them

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  • Do they have a break-down of where they work? NHS trsut or PCT? what kind of organisation etc. I am very fortunate as I work one of the largest NHS Trust in London and our management is very strict on ensuring all of us are up to date of all mandatory training! May be depends on individual organisations and that sort of data would help rather critisizing NHS in general

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  • This is outrageous! Mandatory training should be paid time or time off in lieu, I can't believe NUrses are doing this in their own time. Indeed where is the RCN on this? surely they and the NMC need to step in?

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  • Steve Williams

    I see the RCN are still 180 degrees out of touch with reality. Instead of expressing outrage at the cynical neglect of employers who prey on the goodwill of nurses Janet Davies says it's a “testament to the dedication” of nurses... a “testament to the ineptitude” of the RCN more like!

    The RCN should be advising their members to sit back and do nothing with regard to mandatory training until such time as their employers provide it. Should the managers fail in this statutory duty then the nurses cannot be deemed to be at fault and any disciplinary action that may result will (as a previous writer mentioned) can be legally construed as 'constructive dismissal' and 'unreasonable behaviour.' But then any half-decent union-rep could have told you that - oops I forgot... the RCN isn't a union is it... just an organisation that kisses up to management at the cost of their own membership.

    In addition when Janet Davies says it's a “testament to the dedication” of nurses... is she being serious? It is not dedication to your patients to use up your valuable vacation/rest days and fiscal resources in order to subsidize your employer's coffers... you will return to your unit even more stressed and less able to provide the optimal standard of care your patients deserve!

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  • I am way overdue on my mandatory training. To the tune of 2 years on Violence & aggression and manual handling. Each time I try to book online there is a problem registering. And due to our increased workload and targets we find that there isnt the time to go anyway; paying for it or free.
    I have mentioned it a few times, but keep being fobbed off with some excuse or other.
    Hardly fair when WE will get the blame for not ensuring our ongoing training, and not the managers who keep us from doing it.

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