Revalidation has been declared an early success by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
At last week’s NHS Confederation conference in Manchester, NMC chief executive Jackie Smith celebrated that nurses were getting on with it, the process was going well and many in the profession had recognised the value of reflecting on their practice. Hosting the session, which was about the introduction of the nursing associate role, chair Sir Keith Pearson made a comment from which I infer he believes nurses are implementing revalidation with less fuss than medics. Who would have thought it?
But just as the practice of recording and evidencing continuing professional development is being heralded a success and nurses are recognising the need to continually update their skills to practise safely, the government is making it more difficult by attacking funding for post-registration training (read the story here). The budgets for this held by Health Education England have been cut by 50% for this year, and are under further threat for future years.
So while the NHS struggles to recruit and retain nurses in these times of a dire nurse shortage, the government makes the situation worse by cutting the budgets allocated to develop their skills and incentivise them to stay. As pay has remained stagnant, employers have always managed to tempt nurses to the NHS by promising development and skills training – now they can’t even do that. The education funding reform is removing the bursary for pre-registration nurses, forcing them to pay for their education, and now it seems they are expected to pay to maintain their skills afterwards.
I know funds are limited, and taxpayers have funded training for nurses who don’t always stay. But do you remember that old adage – what happens if you train them and they don’t stay? The riposte was always: “What happens if you don’t train them and they stay?”
More nurses who aren’t staying are David Foster and the other nursing and midwifery advisers at the Department of Health (the story here). Apparently, we can do without their insight and support. Meanwhile, medics still have civil servants to advise ministers. The inequality saddens and disturbs me. Once again, when cuts must be made, nursing is put up first to make the sacrifices. Who is standing up for the profession? Who is standing firm and telling the government what they will lose by these cuts? If no one does, soon there won’t be any nurses left to stand up for.