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NHS revamp must boost nurse numbers, RCN demands

College says it will not let government ‘off the hook’ in proposed NHS reorganisation
Image of two jigsaw pieces, one labelled NHS and the other Staff.

College says it will not let government ministers off the hook in proposed NHS reorganisation

The RCN has warned government ministers they will not be let off the hook when it comes to nurse recruitment, following the announcement of proposals to reorganise the NHS in England.

The plans to revamp the health service were announced on 11 February by health and social care secretary Matt Hancock, and a bill is due to be submitted to parliament later this year.

The proposals aim to create a more integrated health and care system, reduce bureaucracy, and improve support for social care, public health and the NHS in general.

Staff have

College says it will not let government ministers ‘off the hook’ in proposed NHS reorganisation

Image of two jigsaw pieces, one labelled NHS and the other Staff.
Picture: iStock

The RCN has warned government ministers they will not be ‘let off the hook’ when it comes to nurse recruitment, following the announcement of proposals to reorganise the NHS in England.

The plans to revamp the health service were announced on 11 February by health and social care secretary Matt Hancock, and a bill is due to be submitted to parliament later this year.

The proposals aim to create a more integrated health and care system, reduce bureaucracy, and improve support for social care, public health and the NHS in general.

Staff have risen to challenge of COVID-19 but many more are needed, RCN says

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair told Sky News that she urged the government to increase nurse numbers as part of the reorganisation plan.

Referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said: ‘Doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, we have all come together and made the best of what we have. But this isn’t letting government ministers off the hook.’

Nurse shortage brought into sharp focus by COVID-19 pandemic

The latest NHS data shows there are 36,655 nursing vacancies in England alone.

Professor Kinnair said this shortage made nurses’ jobs difficult pre-pandemic but that these challenges became even more apparent when COVID-19 struck in March 2020.

Professor Kinnair said: ‘What we want out of this reorganisation is that these proposals are matched with investment, and that responsibility is being taken to ensure we have safe and effective care with enough nurses.’

RCN wants health and social care secretary to be accountable for safe staffing

According to a white paper setting out the government’s plans, the changes will ‘help us deliver our manifesto commitments, including 50,000 more nurses and 40 new hospitals’ by the end of 2024, when the current parliamentary term is due to end.

The government said the boosted nurse numbers will come from new recruits but also from improved nurse retention and people returning to the profession.

Another proposal suggests that the secretary of state for health and social care must publish a report every five years setting out roles and responsibilities for workforce planning and supply in England, including nurse staffing.

This would be a step nearer the goal of the RCN’s People’s People campaign, which calls for the health and social care secretary to be accountable for providing safe and effective care.


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