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MPs launch inquiry into nursing shortage

The Commons health committee has launched an inquiry into pressures facing the nursing workforce.

The Commons health committee has launched an inquiry into pressures facing the nursing workforce

The committee will examine issues including pay restraint, workload, morale, Brexit and new routes into nursing. This forms part of an inquiry examining whether the government and other bodies have a robust plan to address the shortfall of nurses.

As part of its remit, the committee is seeking evidence on the current and future scale of the nursing staff shortfall and whether the government, arms-length bodies, NHS, community and specialist providers and other partners have effective plans in place to recruit, train and retain the ‘vital’ nursing workforce.

New pathways into the profession, including the Nurse First graduate scheme, nurse degree apprenticeships and the nursing associate role, which aims to be a bridge between healthcare assistants and registered nurses, will also be looked at.

The effect of changes to funding arrangements for nurse training, including the withdrawal of bursaries in England, and alternative funding models and incentives will also be considered and examined. 

'Wider workforce pressures'

Sarah Wollaston
Commons health committee chair Sarah Wollaston. Picture: Matt Austin/REX/Shutterstock

Announcing the inquiry during a Commons debate into NHS pay on Wednesday, health committee chair Sarah Wollaston said: ‘I am delighted today to be able to announce that the health select committee has agreed to look at the nursing workforce as our first inquiry [of the parliamentary year].

‘We will be looking not just at pay, but those wider workforce pressures nurses face around workload, morale and all the other non-pay issues contributing to increased pressures across the system.

‘We are also going to be looking at the new routes into nursing, the impact of [the loss of] bursaries and those already entering the nursing workforce.

‘We know for example that those who drop out of nursing courses are more likely to be in the younger age groups and those who come into nursing as mature students are more likely to stay.

‘We are also going to look at the skill mix more widely and the variety of roles in health and social care, as well as the impact of Brexit and language testing.’

Call for submissions

The committee is calling for submissions on how policymakers could optimise the potential of new routes into nursing, as well as how they might retain and deploy existing staff more effectively.

The deadline for submissions of no more than 3,000 words are invited by 12 October, and the committee expects to hear oral evidence in November.


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