Nurses are continuing to miss out on mandatory training because of staffing shortages, a large survey by the Royal College of Nursing has indicated.
The survey of more than 14,000 nursing staff found nearly a fifth – 18% – were unable to complete mandatory training in the last year, a finding the RCN described as “extremely worrying”.
Mandatory training includes vital health and safety skills such as lifting and handling techniques.
“It is unacceptable that workplaces are so short staffed that nurses cannot be released for training”
Of those unable to do this training, nearly 45% said it was because there were too few staff to cover their work while they were away.
Meanwhile, nearly half of nurses who were able to do the training said no cover was provided while they were absent from their normal duties.
One in 10 said they had to use annual leave and do the compulsory training in their own time.
Overall, the RCN said there had been some improvements since a similar survey in 2010, but it was clear staffing shortages and budget shortfalls were still preventing nurses from accessing training.
The new survey, which was carried out in March, found more than a third of nurses did not feel up to date with core training.
It also revealed ongoing problems with continued professional development, despite the fact nurses were required by the Nursing and Midwifery Council to complete at least 35 hours of CPD every three years.
About 26% said they did not have access to structured CPD, with a similar proportion reporting CPD opportunities had got worse in the past five years.
Again the survey found nurses were using their own time and money to do CPD, according to the RCN. It found 85% of nursing staff had done training in their own time during the last year, with nearly a quarter using annual leave.
The RCN noted that the percentage of nurses funding their own training has gone down since 2010, but 31% still reported paying for CPD themselves.
The college said the findings raised potential issues with the NMC’s new system of competency checks called revalidation, which ups the requirement for CPD to 40 hours over three years.
Less than half of those surveyed – 45% – felt confident their employer would give them access to sufficient professional development.
“It is absolutely critical that all nurses receive essential training each year to maintain standards of care for patients and it is extremely worrying that almost one in five nurses has not been able to do this,” said RCN general secretary and chief executive Peter Carter.
“It is unacceptable that workplaces are so short staffed that nurses cannot be released for training and it is shameful that many have to do essential sessions in their own time,” he said. “Employers need to address this urgently or risk harm to patients.”
The RCN survey was UK-wide and included 700 nurses from Wales and 1,300 in Scotland.
- In 2008, Nursing Times ran the Time Out For Training campaign with aim of ensuring that money and time were ringfenced for post-registration nurse training.