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Welsh ministers pledge 22% rise in student nurse training places


The Welsh Government has announced an £80m investment to increase training places for the next generation of healthcare professionals by 16% next year.

As a result, the number of nurses being trained in 2015-16 will increase by 22%, while the number of paramedic places available will increase by 161%, compared to the 2014-15 academic year.

“We must see sustainable change in staffing levels in the Welsh NHS in order to match resource with demand”

David Wallace

The money will also support the education and training of a range of other healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists and occupational therapists, the Welsh Government said.

Ministers said the number of funded training places was based on plans developed by health boards and had been discussed with healthcare unions.

The £80m for the 2015-16 academic year will support 2,498 new students to undertake an education programme and continue the education of 6,881 students in training. In total, £350m is spent every year, supporting 15,000-plus students and trainees in Wales.

Welsh health and social services minister Mark Drakeford said: “We are creating extra training and education places in 2015-16 to increase the next generation of health professionals to meet the needs of patients across Wales.

“Good health education and training is essential to maintain and improve the standards of care provided to patients across Wales,” he added.

The Royal College of Nursing welcomed the announcement, adding that it was recognition of the “vital contribution the nursing family” to the healthcare system and frontline care.

David Wallace, associate director (employment relations) RCN Wales, said: “The NHS and its staff are currently experiencing unprecedented pressures and demands. We must see sustainable change in staffing levels in the Welsh NHS in order to match resource with demand.

“Today’s news of financial investment will hopefully help secure a more stable and secure future for patients, and safer working environments for staff, and we hope to see this increase year-on-year,” he said.


Increase in the number of training places in 2015-16:

Nursing – 230 extra places, an increase of 22%

Paramedic training – 58 extra places, an increase of 161%

Occupational therapists – 23 extra places, an increase of 26%

Physiotherapy – 25 extra places, an increase of 26%

Diagnostic radiography – 19 extra places, an increase of 26%

Speech and language therapy – seven extra places, an increase of 19%

Clinical scientists – nine extra places, an increase of 52%

Dental hygienists and technicians – nine extra places, an increase of 41%


Readers' comments (6)

  • I think rather than just increase training numbers an entire honest workforce debate should be had. The number of student nurses who leave the course is currently very high, why? The number of qualified nurses who are leaving the NHS is very high, why? Until we understand the answers we will never be able to come up with a solution that will work. The number of nurses who are due to retire is also alarmingly high and I am not sure an increase of 22% will cover even natural wastage. Until we value the contribution that nurses make we will not recruit the right people in the first place. Unfortunately this is a very simplistic answer to a complex problem that is a direct result of 15 years + of ineffective workforce planning and staff engagement.

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  • Sadly Alyx you are right.
    Workforce Development (WEDS) has been atrociously negligent and complacent in managing need for healthcare workers, in particular assistant practitioners ( Nursing).
    The same people have been in that department for years and are just not dealing with the need for nursing ( not just nurses). Closely allied to this is the need to educate a workforce which includes the fact that a significant number of nurses are required and work in the independent sector of care homes. Welsh Goverment has the right ideas but the civil servants covering these areas are sadly lacking in vision.

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  • Alyx Peters | 12-Feb-2015 4:48 pm

    "The number of student nurses who leave the course is currently very high, why? "

    Are there any official statistics about that?

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  • I do not know about actual statistics but in my year, I think that the number of adult training students have halved from year 1 to year 3, a couple have dropped out of learning disabilities (and there was only 8 to start with) and although none have dropped out of child field the university only had funding for a small cohort despite having 100's of applications.

    Some of the reasons for why people drop out is the funding student get - with placement and assignments in term 2 it is extremely difficult to fit in a part time job as well - and travel to and from placement, although gets reimbursed, takes time and money, as they do not get the money until the end of the year. It is a hard course to do and young students have to make sacrifices, whilst during the theory weeks they can join the other students in completing clubs, nights out and extra activities such as volunteering and working, during placement time they cannot complete these activities whilst doing 12 hours shifts. For the mature students it is also hard as they essentially have to juggle a full time job (37.5 hour weeks) with academic work and family life.

    However, there are 100's of applications each year that do not get a place and therefore I am pleased that the government are funding for more places on the courses as there is still definitely a demand for them! Students are being taught about change in the NHS and therefore maybe with more trained nurses with a fresher look on the NHS, cultural change could occur (and full time trained nurses, although costs to train them) costs less than lots of agency nurses

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  • what I don't understand is why they didn't think of this before, as although the foreign nurses do a fantastic job, what is the long term costs of getting qualified nurses from abroad to the UK, settling them into accommodation, visas, then possibly family... compared with training new nurses? Also then does that effect the quality of care from their country as then do they suffer shortages? I suppose for us the trade off is: experience and therefore possibly more confident and competence Vs newly qualified with less experience but fresh ideas and fresh academic knowledge.

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  • Not really sure why there are anon comments particularly on this subject.

    However to Anon 10.51 -

    "Student attrition is back on the political agenda in England, with the Chief Executive of Health Education England writing to the Secretary of State for Health citing rates ‘as high as 30 per cent’.

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