Considering recent shortages in nursing that have lead to overworked nurses unable to provide the best quality care to patients, and protests over pay and treatment within the NHS, it comes as a welcome surprise that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt claims there will be training for 5,000 new NHS nurses each year in England.
This training programme aims to rectify shortages in our health service, providing the possibility for NHS staff to retrain as nurses through four-year apprenticeships taken at local hospitals and consequently increasing staff by 25% each year. Since nursing applicants have dropped by 19% this year, coinciding with the cuts to £6,000 bursaries normally received by nursing students to help fund their studies, training for new recruits is long overdue and could help alleviate the pressure on NHS staff.
The Department of Health has also injected £35million into universities, to counteract the cost of training nurses on wards. The funding is hoped to be an incentive to increase the number of nurses in training.
According to Sky News, Jeremy Hunt has commented on the proposal saying, "Our NHS is nothing without its nurses, we need your skills, we need your compassion and with today's announcement we are backing the biggest expansion of nurse training in the history of the NHS".
He also has said that these newly trained nursing staff will be entitled to more flexible working hours and that he hopes these measures will lead to increased places on university courses, since Hunt seeks to triple the number of nursing associates able to work in NHS wards. Derby, Wolverhampton and Coventry universities have offered to run the four-year part-time courses to deliver the highest standard of nurses at the end of their training.
Additional support for existing nurses and their families will also be put in place, says Hunt, with the offer of flexible hours to meet issues such as child care, extra shifts at short notice, quicker pay and control over pension contributions.
However, despite positive changes for nurses, Hunt failed to address the funding cuts in social care, and how we can move forward to increase quality to care services.
What do you think of Jeremy Hunt’s recent proposals? How do you think these changes will affect nurses? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
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