More nurses need to be recruited to help make the most of extra government spending on social care announced in the Budget, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said.
Chancellor Philip Hammond revealed that £650 million more would immediately be made available for social care, with a government green paper to be published shortly outlining the options for a long-term solution to social care. However, the need to deal with the nursing recruitment shortfall was of as much concern to the RCN.
Acting RCN chief executive Dame Donna Kinnair commented: “The extra £650 million for social care is a step in the right direction but, in truth, those caring for vulnerable people will know that this amount barely touches the sides." She added that the funding gap is expected to reach £2 billion by 2020.
Focusing on the issue of recruitment, she added: "When the ten-year plan is released later this year, the government and NHS England must show how they will recruit the tens of thousands of extra registered nurses needed to guarantee patient safety."
Dame Donna also praised Mr Hammond for not announcing any measures to introduce regionalised pay in the public sector, a move that had been mooted ahead of the Budget but did not materialise in his speech.
She said such a measure would be "fundamentally unfair" and noted that nurses and care workers "defeated" moves to bring in such a remuneration regime six years ago.
The issue of nursing shortages has been a long-running concern for the RCN, exacerbated by lower levels of EU staff due to the uncertainty of Brexit, which has reduced the numbers of nurses coming to Britain from Europe and increased the quantity returning to their home countries.
Last month, Dame Donna criticised a lack of any mention of the topic by the new health secretary Matt Hancock in his Conservative Party conference speech.
Written by James Puckle
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