Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. It might be a day of romance for many, filled with hearts and flowers and a little bit of intrigue, but I am not sure the government has got any sense of how to make nursing more attractive.
In fact, the only thing Mr Hunt et al are flirting with is the danger of losing even more nurses from the profession.
Every time I think things can’t really get any bleaker for nursing, they then do. Last year’s removal of the student bursary for undergraduates, funding cuts for continuing professional development for qualified nurses and – almost inevitably – Brexit make for a pretty intoxicating cocktail that tastes more sour than sweet.
The latest plan to remove bursaries for people with degrees in other subjects who now want to study nursing brings yet another blow for the profession.
The move was revealed on the newly rebranded Department of Health and Social Care’s website on Friday with little fanfare – perhaps unsurprisingly.
But in the midst of what everyone is now conceding is the worst nursing workforce crisis ever, here comes yet another plan that will surely make it harder for those postgraduates to train and join the workforce in areas where the need is most critical.
The Commons’ health select committee’s recent report into the nursing workforce highlighted that the removal of the undergraduate bursary might be the cause of a drop in nursing course applications.
Among a range of other factors, it also wrote comprehensively about the impact of cuts to CPD funding, which it warned was making nurses feel unvalued and compelling them to leave the profession they loved.
So, it seems outrageous that this plan is unveiled by the government just a few days later. The secretary of state has admitted that we need to boost nursing numbers, and assured the public he has a desire to do that, and yet here he is delivering news that will have the opposite effect.
”Mr Hunt should be trying to romance people to enter the profession”
Figures suggest fewer than 1,000 postgraduates train to be a nurse each year, which is a small number I admit in the grand scheme of things.
But, as a result, so is the amount of money needed to fund them through their courses, especially when looked at in terms of the size of government budgets. And, let’s face it, we need every nurse we can get right now. Cut off this workforce supply, and you deepen the crisis further.
More than that, this decision continues to support the views of those who believe that Mr Hunt does not respect registered nurse training, skill or input.
While he promises money for nursing associates, he seems to not value the clinical expertise and talent of those who have acquired their roles through the traditional degree route.
Mr Hunt should be trying to romance people to enter the profession – not just on 14 February but always. Where is the effort to make the profession feel loved secretary of state?