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Saturday 22nd October 2016

Cuts to nurse training

10th May 2006

10052006_blood_pressure1.jpgA poll for Nursing Standard found half the strategic health authorities in England who responded to its survey were cutting training posts, with around one in 10 nurses' training places being cut.

Some units said they were reducing places by as much as 40%, although the average reduction for England was 10%. The Department of Health said nursing training numbers would reduce as the NHS workforce began to 'stabilise'. 

The Nursing Standard contacted all 28 strategic health authorities (SHAs); of these 21 responded, with 10 SHAs saying they planned to cut training numbers by between 3% and 24% authority wide.

The executive officer of the Council of Deans and Heads of the UK Nursing faculties, Paul Turner, said it looked like around one in 10 places would be lost. He added that in some cases there are more substantial reductions; 30% in one course and possibly up to 40% in another.

The Royal College of Nursing said moves to cut the number of student nurses were short-sighted, especially in the light of an ageing population and workforce. RCN policy adviser Jane Naish said there has already been a decrease in the number of district nurses, and health visitor numbers are at a standstill.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said that when the NHS Plan was launched in 2000, the public made clear their top priority was to have more staff working in the NHS.  "We now have over 85,000 more nurses working in the NHS in England than in 1997" the spokeswoman said.

She continued by saying there is still record numbers working in the NHS, but the annual increase has got smaller. She added "In future, as the size of the NHS workforce stabilises, our emphasis will be on staff working differently, in order to deliver more personalised services for patients." 

The strategic health authorities who answered the survey said the changes to course places were in response to demands for jobs and local workforce plans. For example Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire health authority said it was reducing training places by a fifth in response to local needs, saying that "The numbers have changed as we have moved from national targets to numbers driven by local demand."

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