Investment in the NHS will be one of the new Conservative government’s priorities, under proposals outlined under the Queen’s Speech.
The Conservative Party, which won a landslide victory in the 2019 election, will invest £33.9 billion extra every year within the next 5 years. The party has committed to recruiting 50,000 more nurses, and has announced that every nursing student will receive £5000, with certain disciplines eligible for more.
‘As my grandmother taught me, nursing is one of the most fulfilling careers you can have. These days it’s a high-tech, highly rewarding job, one of the most respected, valued and caring professions you can do,’ said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
I’d like to thank the Chief Nurse, Dr Ruth May, for the work she’s done to attract the brightest and the best into nursing, but I know that advertising alone is not enough. So to attract more nurses into the profession, and to reward students who choose nursing as a career, today I can announce a £2 billion package of financial support for trainee nurses. We’re going to give student nurses a free, non-repayable training grant worth up to £8,000 a year, on top of the existing funding available, almost doubling the financial support on offer.’
The renewed focus of nursing was welcomed by organisations such as the RCN.‘The new Government’s focus on the NHS, and on the nursing workforce in particular, is much-needed, as is the additional funding for the health service in England. But as nursing staff prepare to endure another long and difficult winter, Ministers and NHS leaders must waste no time in pushing the promised investment to the frontline where it is desperately needed. We also want to see responsibilities for workforce planning clarified within the NHS Long Term Plan Bill,’ said Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing.
‘Plans to achieve cross-party consensus on funding for social care in England must be put into practice without delay. Nurses, who work in both the health and social care sectors, know better than anyone how inextricably the two are linked. Nurses working in hospitals know that all too often, their patients, many elderly and frail, can’t be discharged despite being medically fit to leave. A social care workforce strategy is also needed as a matter of urgency.’
Other proposals for the new parliament outlined by Health Secretary Matt Hancock include 40 new hospitals over the next decade; 6000 more GPs; 6000 more primary care professionals; and 50 million more GP appointments.
‘Additional NHS investment is welcome and will help to start to stabilise NHS services, but it is not a funding bonanza: by historic standards the amount promised is, in real terms, below the long-term average in NHS spending, and it also doesn’t represent a comprehensive funding plan that includes workforce training, capital funding, or public health,’ said Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund. ‘The government must be honest with the public: as well as additional funding, a credible plan to increase the workforce is also urgently needed. Even then, it will take time to bring down waiting times and patients will unfortunately continue to wait longer to receive the care that they need.’