Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health has announced that extra 5000 trainee nurse places will be created next year to increase the numbers of home-grown NHS staff.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Hunt promised the largest increase in training “in the history of the NHS” to boost the numbers by a quarter.
The additional 5,000 places will bring the number of undergraduate study opportunities to 25,850 in 2018/19, around 15,000 up from 2015.
At the conference, Hunt said that the National Health Service will be looking after a million more over-75s in just a decade, so the government need to jump-start nurse training.
Hunt said that in combination with a 25 per cent increase in medical school places, the new nurse training places will markedly change the NHS’ ability to cope with upcoming pressures.
He further added that the government will also improve retention rates amongst the current workforce with new flexible working arrangements to be made available to all NHS staff.
A recent study by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has shown an estimated 40,000 vacant nursing positions in the health service and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) recently warned that more nurses and midwives are leaving the UK workforce than are joining.
In addition to extra training places, current NHS nursing staff will be provided with the opportunity to retrain at their local hospitals by means of a 4-year apprenticeship.
The chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, Janet Davies said that the college welcomed the announcement of an increase in numbers but criticised the scheme as “too hospital-focused”.
It is very important that the nurses of the future have a flexible education, which enables them to work in a variety of settings to deliver a 21st century health and care service, she added.
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