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Risk to patients if nursing education not better funded, say nurses

There is ‘a real and significant’ risk to patients if nursing education is not properly funded, nurses have said.

There is ‘a real and significant’ risk to patients if nursing education is not adequately funded, nurses have said.


Sarah Burden at RCN congress: ‘Education cuts threaten the quality of patient care.’ Picture: John Houlihan

Education is key to fixing a ‘leaking bucket’ where more nurses are leaving the profession than joining it, said the RCN education forum at RCN congress in Liverpool.

The forum sparked a discussion at congress on Sunday about the impact of reducing investment in the education and development of the UK’s nursing workforce.

Forum member Sarah Burden said: ‘It is clear there is a real and significant impact and risks to patients if we do not fund nurse education properly.’

Bursary cuts: a mistake

She pointed out a backdrop of large-scale changes to education in England, including bursaries for nursing students being abolished in England from this summer.

‘In England, investment in education and training has been subject to cuts of up to 45%, while the funding for postgraduate medical care remains in place,’ said Ms Burden.

‘This threatens the quality of patient care.’

Clinical nurse specialist in stroke Ismalia De Sousa told congress she came to England seven years ago when her home country Portugal faced similar funding issues for training and development.

She said: ‘I started working as a staff nurse and was given the opportunity to do a master's degree.’

Ms De Sousa became a clinical nurse specialist in the UK and has stayed motivated and interested in developing other nurses in the same organisation.

‘In the past year we have had to find ourselves ways to fund education within our service [due to] cuts.

‘Do we really want to risk becoming like Portugal?’

A necessary investment

Samantha Spence, from the RCN’s Outer North West London branch, said she felt there was a lot of talk about the UK being a nursing leader in the world, which would not continue without adequate money to continue nurses’ education.

‘The modern needs of the NHS are changing consistently. We can’t let education stop if we are going to meet the needs of all our clients.’

London nurse Claire Rule said: ‘I feel quite passionately about education.

‘If we don’t invest in it, what good are we nurses going to be in the future to help remedy and fix the healthcare we need in the future?’

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