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General election: Labour commits £1 billion to nurse education

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Labour has pledged £1bn to nurse education Labour's pledge to reintroduce the nursing bursary was welcomed by the RCN

Labour has pledged £1billion to nurse education, if it wins the general election on 12 December.

The NHS budget would rise to £155bn by 2023-24 – £6bn more than the government promised when it set out its five-year plan last year. As part of this, the party would reintroduce nursing bursaries.

‘Labour is the first party this election to pick up our call for at least £1 billion annually for nursing education, and all political parties must show this same direction. Staff shortages are the single biggest threat to patient care and there are tens of thousands of vacant nurse jobs in England right now. This funding must be forthcoming every year - not a one-off - to stand a chance of helping, and must be recognised as only the starting point of a package of investment in nurse education,’ said Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing.

‘No matter how people voted in the EU referendum, nobody wants the NHS left open to a carve-up as a result of post-Brexit trade deal. Brexit chaos and rows about deals cannot become a distraction from solving the mounting nurse shortage at home. All parties now need to commit to invest in nursing - there are nurses in every constituency and they need a Parliament and UK Government that supports them.’

The party has also committed extra funds to buildings and equipment, the training of staff and public health services. Social care is also set to be a major area that the political parties will focus on in the run up to December’s election.

‘The success of any NHS funding policy will rest on the ability to recruit and retain enough workers to staff NHS services. Labour’s pledge to reinstate a training bursary for nurses is welcome, although it will be critical to focus on retaining existing NHS staff over the next few years, at a time when many are leaving the service due to the intensity of their workload,’ said Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund.

‘For many UK voters the distinction between the NHS and social care is unclear, and many are surprised to find that social care is not free at the point of use. The current social care system is not fit for purpose and is failing the people who rely on it. A key test for party manifestos will be whether they include plans for fundamental reform of social care funding.’

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