Editorial

Student finance: one of several reasons for optimism in 2020

After years of stagnation and decline this year has started with some positives

After years of stagnation and decline this year has started with some positives 


New students who want to train as learning disability nurses will get a maintenance
grant and an extra top-up for choosing a shortage specialty. Picture: iStock

With 2020 designated the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Organization, what part will learning disability nurses play – and will the profession be in a better state at the end of it?

After years of stagnation and decline this year has started with some positives. 

In England – where the problems are most acutely felt – new students wishing to train as learning disability nurses will get a maintenance grant and an extra top-up for choosing a shortage specialty, which might lead to more recruits.  

Reset project for learning disability nursing

NHS England is also leading its ‘reset’ project for learning disability nursing and developing an action plan to improve care and share good practice.

The Queen’s Nursing Institute is developing standards for community learning disability nursing, which could provide a vision of what the role involves for the first time.

‘If #2020Nurses is to be more than a hashtag, there needs to be sustained investment to make a lasting change’

For people who have learning disabilities, 2020 could at last see some changes with the anticipated roll-out of the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Learning Disability and Autism programme for all NHS health and social care staff. 

Look to Northern Ireland for more positive inspiration, with the long overdue restoration of power sharing, and striking nurses who have secured promises on pay and safe staffing. 

Unlock nurses’ leadership potential

And there’s the Nightingale Challenge, run by the Nursing Now campaign, which aims to unlock nurses’ leadership potential.

There’s also a need to keep up the momentum generated by 2019’s learning disability nursing centenary.

Ultimately though, if #2020Nurses is to be more than just a hashtag, you need to get involved – and there needs to be sustained investment to make a lasting change. 


Christine Walker is editor of Learning Disability Practice 

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