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Learning disability nursing omitted from new Welsh training places

Welsh Government's investment in the health service workforce has been welcomed, but there are concerns over a lack of places for learning disability nurses

Welsh Government's investment in the health service workforce has been welcomed, but there are concerns over a lack of places for learning disability nurses

Almost 400 more nurse training places will be available in Wales next year, as the Welsh Government approved a £281 million investment package.

Concerns over a lack of extra places for learning disability nursing

But while adult, child and mental health nursing courses will see capacity increase in 2023-24, concerns were raised as learning disability nursing has been overlooked.

Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan said the move was a conscious decision to ‘invest in the NHS workforce in Wales.’

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Welsh Government's investment in the health service workforce has been welcomed, but there are concerns over a lack of places for learning disability nurses

Three nursing students learn about resuscitation using a manikin
Picture: iStock

Almost 400 more nurse training places will be available in Wales next year, as the Welsh Government approved a £281 million investment package.

Concerns over a lack of extra places for learning disability nursing

But while adult, child and mental health nursing courses will see capacity increase in 2023-24, concerns were raised as learning disability nursing has been overlooked.

Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan said the move was a conscious decision to ‘invest in the NHS workforce in Wales.’

The announcement comes as latest figures published by the Welsh Government show the ‘enormous pressure’ the health service is under, with December being the busiest month on record for NHS Wales with an average daily attendance of 2,847 people to emergency departments and minor injury units.

There are currently 3,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the country, which has an annual agency spend of about £140 million.

Extra places will help improve sustainable care in Wales

Ms Morgan added: ‘Despite the inflationary pressures on our budget we are committed to investing in the NHS workforce in Wales. I am delighted to increase training places once again for nurses and the many other health professions, which are the backbone of our health service.

‘A well-trained NHS workforce with the right skills is essential to providing sustainable high-quality care to people across Wales and improving standards in our health service. These additional training places will deliver a workforce that can respond to the challenges of the future.’

An extra 241 adult nursing places will be made available, along with 120 extra mental health nursing and 17 child nursing spots.

RCN calls for focus on retaining nurses as well as boosting student places

But as RCN Wales welcomed the extra places, it warned that the lack of investment in learning disability nursing was ‘disheartening’ and also called for more action on retaining skilled nurses.

RCN Wales director Helen Whyley said: ‘Given that people with learning disabilities have some of the poorest health outcomes in our communities, the need for learning disability nursing skills has never been greater.

‘The Welsh Government must continue to increase nursing student places in all fields of nursing and ensure that they have access to adequate financial support through the NHS Wales bursary scheme.

‘However, this will not avert the current nursing workforce crisis. There must be more emphasis on retaining the nurses we have.’


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