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Labour will not force universities to take extra student nurses, say deans


Universities and hospitals will not be forced to take extra nursing students this year under Labour’s plan to increase trainee numbers by 1,000.

However, universities and hospitals that take extra students will receive full funding, and could receive an additional premium in recognition of the short notice.  

Labour leader Ed Miliband said yesterday that if Labour forms the next government, the party will immediately ask universities to reopen admissions to nursing courses in September.

The plan is part of Labour’s pledge to increase the number of nurses in the NHS by 20,000 over the course of the next parliament.

Lizzie Jelfs, director of the Council of Deans of Health, which represents nursing schools, said it had been in discussion with Labour over the proposals.

She said: “We understand from Labour that universities wouldn’t be forced to do this. In the detail I have seen it says [the party will be] making funding available for up to 1,000 places.

“Places will be fully funded both for the university and for the practice placements. A lot of this is about capacity and partnership between universities and placement providers,” she told Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal.

The council has also said it is committed to working with the NHS to fill extra places with suitable candidates.

In addition to the funding for universities, hospitals and other placement providers receive a tariff for students of £3,175 per student adjusted by the market forces factor for each trust, which modifies tariff prices to reflect the variable costs of doing business in different parts of the country.

It is understood that Labour would ensure this funding was made available to trusts and universities this year. Sources close to the plans said the party could try to incentivise providers with additional money, but it is unclear at this stage how much extra funding would be available.

“A lot of this is about capacity and partnership between universities and placement providers”

Lizzie Jelfs

The plan for 1,000 places is expected to will include all four branches of nursing – mental health, learning disability, children’s and adult nursing.

However, it remains unclear how many universities or providers will be willing to take on more students. Issues are likely to include the capacity of organisations to provide places and the availability of candidates at short notice to join the three year nursing degree.

If it wins the election Labour will call a summit with universities and other stakeholders to discuss the details of its plans and how to achieve its targets.

Health Education England’s national workforce plan, published in December, predicted existing nurse training places would deliver an additional 13,000 full time equivalent adult nurses by 2019, with a net increase of 5,641 employed adult nurses by 2019.




Readers' comments (5)

  • Its all well and good saying increase student nurse numbers but universities and organisations cant cope with the capacity of students now, this would be impossible to manage. We can't knit placements that don't exist, mentors can only manage so much before they decide to leave, patient care comes first

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  • Another well thought out plan from Labour and totally ignoring the Private Sector Nursing Homes as usual and then we get blaimed for not training any Nurses ourselves.

    We have have introduced quite a few from abroad which have subsequently been taken over by the NHS in spite of objections from Unison.

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  • It is already beyond difficult for Universities to find practice placements which are applicable to the modules being studied and now this!!! It sounds great and is without doubt a necessity but how is it going to work in reality.?..Some universities are not even managing to deal with the BSc Nursing course in any event as they are in competition for practice placements with specialist colleges!

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  • Increasing nursing students into uni is not the answer. Has anyone ever undertaken an audit of how many nurses are retained and go on to practice nursing as opposed to,those that obtain a degree and then move out of nursing.
    I still believe firmly in the Enrolled route for people that are keen to genuinely nurse,but do not want to be or have the academic ability. Patients and families want caring staff to look after them and I think there would be a lot less complaints from families if their loved ones received care instead of nurses being too involved with targets and paperwork!
    I look forward to the emergence of the Assistant Practitioner gaining recognition by the NMC as I think the profession is ignoring a very worthwhile group of professionals.

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  • As far as qualifying but not remaining in nursing - there's not a lot you can do with a nursing degree outside of direct health & social care. Many nurses move abroad - some because the trust would not guarantee a job following registration. Many nurses are sources from less wealthy/poor countries, without paying for their training or compensating their home country for using its vital assets - people, skills and education.

    There is a lot of nurse-bashing. I think people frequently resent the role of nursing being changed out of all recognition. Perhaps it's surprising that nursing was so limited in the past. I think what we have in the UK is en par with other western countries. If you want a doctor to do modern nursing tasks, then you pay for it. If you want someone with education in anatomy & physiology, and the practical and interpersonal skills relevant to nursing, then you crack on with that. Call it SEN, AP, or HCA - a title is not the issue, but that the gap in nursing knowledge appropriate to the role.

    My experience of watching a HCA being taught by a clinical facilitator was superior to my own, where we were taught clinical skills in a full classroom. When we went on placement, it was the HCA who taught us, then reported back to the mentor. I did think, though, that there was a lack or absence of knowledge of basic anatomy & physiology which does underpin all the care, enabling one to make links between the general and the specific. A catheter bag that is rounded like a balloon is not a lesser issue - in fact, perhaps the opposite.

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