A new government 'must commit to nurse education and development'

A new government needs to commit to funding nurse and midwifery education sufficiently, the Council of Deans of Health has said.

A new government needs to commit to funding nurse and midwifery education sufficiently to protect patients and community nursing, the Council of Deans of Health (CoDoH) has said

As concerns continue to grow for nursing education, the next government must make changes to
meet these needs. Picture: John Houlihan

The council, which represents UK university faculties that train nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, has released what policies it feels political parties hoping to win office in the June general election should sign up to.

CoDoH said: 'The need to grow the nursing, midwifery and allied health professional workforce has never been greater, particularly post-Brexit.'

EU percentages

It said EU nationals made up 5% of the nursing, midwifery and allied health professional working in the UK, and 4.5% of the university staff who educate them.

'The next government should rapidly guarantee the rights of EU citizens working in the UK to secure stability both for healthcare and higher education staff retention,' the council wrote.

CoDoH pointed out the 7.2% average nurse vacancy rate in England, saying it stands as high as 15% in some areas of the country.

Funding shortfall

The council say in England there is currently a two thirds shortfall in promised university funding for the 75,000 students currently in the system – with tuition fees not covering the full cost of the resource-intense courses.

'To address workforce shortages and reduce the reliance on overseas staff, the government must commit additional funding to meet the real cost of providing healthcare courses and increase student numbers,' the deans said.

They continued: 'New routes into the professions, such as nursing associates and apprenticeships can create new opportunities, but draw on the same resources in terms of educators and placement capacity. In the interest of patient safety, governments must scale up tried and tested university routes as the means of educating the future workforce as well as trying new roles and routes into the professions.'

The council called continuing professional development (CPD) 'essential for patient safety and staff retention', adding: 'There were cuts to local CPD budgets in 2016 of up to 45%, as the result of a decision taken at national level to reduce workforce development funding by 49%.

Development concerns

'Moreover, specialised roles such as health visiting, district, practice, school and occupational health nurse higher education face uncertainty in terms of their future funding. This does not reflect the urgent need to provide patient care closer to home.'

Further concerns were raised over research and development budgets, post-Brexit, with CoDoH suggesting nurse-led projects result in 'older people falling less, fewer infections in hospital, better rehabilitation for stroke survivors, improved rates of return to work after illness, improved maternity services and better mental healthcare'.

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