I felt a little bit in shock at the end of Jeremy Hunt’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference last week.
It’s a big year for nursing – you may have noticed. Well, you and every other nurse may have noticed, but Mr Hunt certainly hasn’t.
I felt sure he was going to mention the severe nursing workforce crisis. After all, it’s his government that is removing the bursary and pressing for the introduction of the nursing associate role in order to try to alleviate it.
I was confident that he’d talk about the hard decision to remove the bursary, but explain his conviction that it would increase nursing numbers to at least instill some confidence from those who are worried about it.
”I felt sure he was going to mention the severe nursing workforce crisis”
I felt certain he would stake his claim that the introduction of the nursing associate role would increase the numbers of people able to provide care so desperately needed.
At the very least, he had to mention the service’s dependency on overseas nurses and pledge a commitment to them post-Brexit?
But instead he focused on the doctors, announcing that he would increase annual medical training numbers by around £100m.
“Instead he focused on the doctors, announcing that he would increase annual medical training numbers”
Now I can understand why after a bitter battle with the junior doctors and the British Medical Association, he wanted to do something crowd-pleasing for the medics. And I also won’t deny that of course we need doctors.
But don’t we need nurses more desperately? The vacancies in nursing are far higher than those in the medical profession, and with the funding pot for post-registration training under threat, as well as the bursary, the situation is likely to be even more acutely felt.
”The health secretary’s complete ignorance of the dire situation in nursing will only compound problems”
Nursing directors are struggling to fill posts and are finding it a challenge to retain a demoralised and demotivated nursing workforce. The health secretary’s complete ignorance of the dire situation in nursing will only compound their problems.
Nursing feels neglected, under-represented and without a voice. In a year when the profession has come under the biggest attacks, which will change it forever, Mr Hunt felt nursing warranted nothing but platitudes in his speech. It is a disgrace.
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