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Cameron dismisses RCN’s workforce warning


Prime minister David Cameron has claimed there is a “massive” nurse training programme underway, in response to concerns raised by the Royal College of Nursing about staffing levels.

A report, timed to coincide with the start of the RCN’s annual conference, warned that nurse recruitment will be put under increasing strain in the coming years from new immigration rules.

“We have got a massive training programme for nurses at the moment”

David Cameron

The legislation requires migrant workers who have come from outside the European Economic Area to have a salary of at least £35,000 after five years of working in the UK if they want to remain in the country.

The RCN has claimed the law, which was amended in 2012, means that from 2017 thousands of overseas nurses could be forced to leave the UK and will create “chaos” for the NHS.

The story was picked up by a number of national newspapers and broadcasters, leading Mr Cameron to be asked about it while on a visit to Runcorn.

In response, he said: “We have got a massive training programme for nurses at the moment, there are something like 8,000 more nurses in the NHS today than when I became prime minister. The training programme will continue.”

The comments are presumably a reference to Health Education England’s existing plans to increase the number of places on nurse education courses.  

Mr Cameron added that a key advisory committee had decided earlier this against recommending making it easier to recruit overseas nurses from outside Europe.

“Crucially, we have an organisation called the Migration Advisory Committee and they advise us about which occupations to put on the so-called shortage occupations list, the ones where they fear skills shortages will develop,” he said.

“They haven’t put nursing on that shortage occupation list and I think we should listen to their advice above all,” said the prime minister.


Readers' comments (5)

  • Perhaps someone should invite the Migration Advisory Committee to spend a couple of days on a Care of the Older Person ward. Derisory Advisory Tosh.

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  • 8,000 more nurses maybe but how many of them can converse fluently with patients ?

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  • Migration Advisory Committee have listed health service managers of the "shortage" list but not Nurses........

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  • The RCN was heavily involved in the review exercise with the MAC. Here's some direct quotes from the report:

    "Data from NHS Jobs and the Royal College of Nursing indicated to CfWI a national nursing vacancy rate of less than one per cent of the 310,000 person workforce."

    "However, the Royal College of Nursing provided evidence that suggested that vacancies were employer-driven rather than a structural problem in the UK. It was stated that vacancies were largely caused by recruitment freezes and redundancies due to budgetary pressures, with employers keeping some posts unfilled to keep costs down."

    So... good job by the RCN - provide all the ammunition for the CfWI to jump in with:

    "CfWI said that this suggested that including adult nurses on the shortage occupation list would not be effective at reducing the number of vacancies."

    CfWI - Centre for Workforce Intelligence - "Our work is helping decision-makers plan the future medical workforce in England." Here's their own definition of Workforce Planning:

    "Workforce planning is the process of ensuring that a business or organisation has the right number of employees; with the right knowledge, skills and behaviours in the right place, at the right time."

    So it seems we can't blame the Migration Advisory Committee for this - the RCN and the CfWI between them managed to do really great job.

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  • Not sure where Cameron gets figures from for the "massive nurse training programme". The April 2015 Civitas report on training NHS health workers states nurses training places have been cut steadily by the Coalition government despite rising demand and large numbers of older nurses.

    In 2010-11 there were 25,904 places on nursing courses in the UK. By 2012-13 this had decreased by 13.6 per cent to 21,529. Currently there are 20,033 nurse training places in the country. The Coalition promised 827 extra nurse training places in 2015/2016 made up of 100 mental health nurses, 11 learning disability nurses, 161 children's nurses and 555 adult nurses.

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