Without radical action, nurse shortages in the UK will double in the next 5 years, whilst General Practitioner (GP) vacancies could almost treble. A focus on the financial support and training of new nurses is believed to be the catalyst to ending the NHS nursing shortage crisis.
What is the NHS' long term plan for nursing?
The NHS has committed to establishing an online nursing degree from 2020 at a lower cost, to make training more accessible and will widen participation.
The plan outlines several measures, including proposals to increase staff numbers through training and recruitment. It also proposes to make the NHS a better place of work, where staff feel able to make better use of their skills and experience and therefore remain in their career indefinitely.
The NHS promises “New routes into nursing and other disciplines, including apprenticeships, nursing associates, online qualification, and ‘earn and learn’ support, are all being backed, together with a new post-qualification employment guarantee.
Closing the gap
The size and efficiency of training and an injection of funds for education and training is what the NHS needs to meet the UK's demand for more nurses and GPs, insists a new think tank. Their research found one of the major reasons nurses did not complete their three-year degree in 2017 was largely contributed to the pressure students felt in trying to meet their living costs.
They recommend postgraduate student nurses are
Health Education England (HEE) is responsible for the planning, funding, quality management and organisation of post graduate medical education and clinical placements for nursing and AHP students.
Through the quality framework HEE supports providers, helping them to plan placement shape and capacity in response to changing patient needs and service models whilst maintaining high quality training.
Developing, promoting and facilitating innovative, ethical and mutually beneficial educational placements in the NHS and overseas, are also aims of the new workforce strategy.
The Department of Health and Social Care sets the tariff for placements. The reform of education funding and the 25% increase of clinical placements by over 5,000 annually from 2018, will provide an important boost to the supply of nurses by the early 2020s and beyond. The draft NHS workforce strategy suggested an increase in the amount of training placements available to make the NHS the employer of choice.
Specific action has been taken to expand medical, Allied Health Professionals (AHP), and nursing undergraduate places, to ensure the future supply of qualified staff meets the needs of the NHS This includes encouraging more young people to consider working in healthcare through Health Careers; increasing the number of funded clinical placements; expanding undergraduate medical school places; reducing course drop out rates; developing new apprenticeships and supporting the NHS to access the apprentice levy; and developing associate roles.
A large number of initiatives facilitating overseas placements for NHS staff and trainees already exist across the NHS. Global learning opportunities benefit individual clinicians, overseas healthcare systems and the NHS. They are highly attractive to many NHS employees and aid recruitment and retention. HEE is working with partners to support and expand existing schemes, ensuring the right conditions are in place to provide a quality learning experience which is mutually beneficial.
HEE’s Primary Care Workforce Commission, chaired by Professor Martin Roland has developed a Community Education Provider Network (CEPN) to deliver multidisciplinary team training and support local recruitment, retention and return to practice programmes. All GP practices have access to a local CEPN and deliver the ‘Recognise, Rethink, Reform’ plan for general practice nurses which calls for improved training capacity; more pre-registration training placements in the community; retention schemes and a return to work programme.
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