Nurses may seize a greater role in deciding the size of the NHS workforce and staff roles under the government’s health reforms.
The government has said it would give up responsibility for planning education and training and this should move to employers and professional groups, but has not said how this would work. It is expected to publish a consultation next month.
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Royal College of Nursing director of policy development and implementation Howard Catton, speaking at the Nursing Times Future of Nursing conference last week, said he was hopeful it would mean the planning of medical and nursing education and training would be brought together.
At present, education and training decisions are dominated by Medical Education England.
A change could open the door to extending nurses’ roles into more areas traditionally covered by doctors. It may also allow education funding to be moved more quickly from medical training to nursing.
However, Mr Catton said: “If we are going to have difficult conversations about substitution [of roles], those won’t be easy conversations.
He also warned that losing a national or regional overview of planning could lead to a short term view of staffing being taken.