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Mandatory training and CPD victims of short staffing, warns RCN


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”

Peter Carter

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.



Readers' comments (9)

  • I think we might be missing the point slightly, it is not critical that nurses receive annual refreshers...

    It IS critical that nurses put into practice on a DAILY basis the correct knowledge and competences - we have all seen the 6c's - there is no "T" in there.

    Safety to practice is not something that happens annually in a training room - it is daily and that is why CQC are asking nurses questions about their knowledge and observing their practice.

    Therefore lets get ready for the new CQC inspection.

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  • Fair point Alex, although I would challenge that the 6c's should actually contain words such as safety, assurance and responsibility. A pedant may argue that most mandatory training outcomes are covered by competence.

    In our Trust only Fire, Information Governance and Resuscitation are refreshed annually. Topics are offered in a number of ways through a highly credible online tool, which cuts down the amount of time spent sat in a classroom environment. We have more than doubled our rate of compliance in two years as a result, and access to training continues to grow as the need for training/refreshing and the mode of access becomes more and more embedded in people's minds.

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  • I think the point here is that even mandatory training is being squeezed out -that is a requirement which employers should have no choice about. Online tools have their role, but where mandatory training is done by default in nurses own time (as can sometimes be the case with those tools) that makes it even harder to find time for the kind of reflective and considered approaches nurses should be taking. Nothing comes without effort, but time is also important

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  • Isn't mandatory training done as much to absolve Trusts of legal responsibility as it is to educate and reinforce practice?

    Surely the reason a box ticking computer exercise is becoming more common.

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  • Agree 7pm

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  • I think the point is that it is 'mandatory' training which employers have the responsibility to ensure staff get but don't bother about and should not be in their own time and how good are tick box computer quizs??????

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  • Online training is becoming more and more common with some trusts delivering almost all of their mandatory training this way. Trusts are required to provide training to ensure safe working under HSE regulations but many are even letting this slip. There need to be greater sanctions for those employers who fail their staff in this way.

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  • Surely we are missing a big point here, it is mandatory training so it has to be provided, when it is not provided there are 2 very negative outcomes. 1. Staff feel neglected, they feel that their organisation doesn't care about their health and welfare and become disengaged. 2. If they for example suffer a back injury and they have not been provided with adequate mandatory training they will rightly make a claim for compensation.

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  • Every time there is training, we should be learning new things or reminding ourselves those things we knew but which we might not be currently doing very well in practice. Nurses need these trainings as reminders; some of the techniques and skills involved are often not regularly in use, hence the need for reminders.
    I agree computer tick boxes are often not usually useful for nurses.


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