The Royal College of Nursing has issued a critical response to the Chancellor’s autumn statement, in which he announced a £6.2bn boost for the NHS – including £150m for training and professional development for doctors and nurses.
Chancellor Sajid Javid claimed the statement symbolised ‘the end of austerity’, but RCN chief executive Dame Donna Kinnair said that the Chancellor ‘had completely missed the opportunity’ to significantly increase the number of nursing students, citing that 1000 fewer students have started degree courses since the removal of the bursary in 2016.
‘It’s very disappointing that the Chancellor has not heeded our call for immediate investment of £1bn into nurse higher education,’ said Dame Donna. ‘Independent economic modelling for the College shows this would be the fastest and most effective way to quickly increase the supply of nurses.
‘Ministers now need to explain exactly how they plan to stem the current workforce crisis in nursing, with over 40,000 posts vacant in England alone.’
Dame Donna also responded cautiously to news of a £1.5bn boost for local authorities to provide social care. She said the extra money would ‘begin to help, but only if the money is ring-fenced so it cannot be diverted to other priorities.
‘Councils have lost 60p in every £1 of central government funding since 2010 – there will need to be significant cash increases every year from now to try to redress this huge funding gap.’