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More registered nurses needed, says NHS England chief executive

Nursing associates should not replace registered nurses, NHS England chief executive states.
Simon Stevens

Nursing associates should not replace registered nurses, the chief executive of NHS England said.

Simon Stevens told senior nurses and midwives at the chief nursing officer summit in Birmingham on Tuesday: 'Not withstanding the importance of reforms made to new ways into nursing nursing associates and apprenticeships there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that we need more registered nurses.

'Whatever we do needs to supplement that need, not replace it.'

He talked of the need to retain and train nurses, and the uncertainty of Brexit.

Pressures and paradoxes

Mr Stevens said there were three paradoxes in the NHS at the moment.

The first he said, was that despite 'huge pressures', especially in A&E and elective surgery, more people are surviving serious illnesses like cancer than five or ten years ago.

Nursing associates should not replace registered nurses, the chief executive of NHS England said.

Simon Stevens told senior nurses and midwives at the chief nursing officer summit in Birmingham on Tuesday: 'Not withstanding the importance of reforms made to new ways into nursing – nursing associates and apprenticeships – there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that we need more registered nurses.


Simon Stevens.  Photo: Neil O'Connor

'Whatever we do needs to supplement that need, not replace it.'

He talked of the need to retain and train nurses, and the uncertainty of Brexit.

Pressures and paradoxes

Mr Stevens said there were three paradoxes in the NHS at the moment.

The first he said, was that despite 'huge pressures', especially in A&E and elective surgery, more people are surviving serious illnesses like cancer than five or ten years ago.

'The second is, we are demonstrably getting healthier, but the pressure on health services continues to increase,' Mr Stevens said.

Thirdly, he said there were more staff working in healthcare then ever before, yet more were needed.

Inefficient systems

Mr Stevens called for more uniformity of systems, referring to a junior doctor he had spoken to who was working on three wards in the same hospital that each had a different model for discharge.

He welcomed the spring budget announcement of £1 billion social care funding in England, and challenged nursing leaders to engage with local authorities to meet care needs, which would in turn, improve discharge procedures.

'If we can free up 2,000-3,000 hospital beds, we will be able to look after people coming into A&E better and do more routine operations.'

He said this measure would be equivalent to between five and six new hospitals.

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