Nursing leaders have welcomed Labour’s promise to expand the NHS workforce.
The plan, announced at the party’s conference this week, pledged to create more thousands more training places for all nursing disciplines, as well as doubling the number of medical students. Announcing the proposal, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, stressed the vital importance of good public services. ‘We know that our health service today is on its knees. It is a social priority. And it is an economic priority,” said Ms Reeves.More on this topic
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QNI Chief Executive Crystal Oldman fully supported the proposal saying: ‘the data we have from members of the QNI’s Community Nurse Executive Network (CNEN) supports the proposed doubling of the number of registered nurses to undertake the postgraduate programme of District Nursing each year.'
‘Having more District Nurses who work at an advanced level of practice, leading and managing teams of regulated and unregulated staff, will help the whole system and will enable high quality, complex care to be delivered in people’s homes and communities,’ said Ms. Oldman.
Alison Morton, Executive Director of the Institute of Health Visiting, welcomed the announcement to train 5,000 health visitors saying it was ‘good news for babies, children and families, and the health visiting workforce that supports them.’
She added that ‘ too many vulnerable children are invisible to services and not getting the support that they need.’ Spending on the health visiting service is ‘a smart investment in our children's future and the future of our society’.
The plan was given more of a cautious welcome by the RCN, who pointed out that successive governments have failed to plug the gaps in the NHS workforce and urged Labour to ‘get to the root of the problem’.
‘Without enough nurses, patients aren’t safe,’ said RCN Chief Executive Pat Cullen. ‘While potentially addressing some workforce gaps – such as district nurses – the problem across the system is far greater.’
Labour says the scheme will be financed by scrapping the Tory tax cut for the highest earners that was announced last week in the mini budget, Rachel Reeves promised: ‘Those at the top will pay their fair share.’
Ms Reeves claimed that reinstating the 45% rate of income tax would bring in £2billion per year that could be pumped into the NHS to help with the acute staffing crisis.
The RCN emphasised that it considers such investment critically important. ‘Without enough nurses, patients aren’t safe,’ said Pat Cullen. ‘With 47,000 unfilled nurse posts in England’s NHS alone, urgent investment is needed in measures to recruit.’