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NHS plan vows to tackle nursing shortage

Wednesday 9th January 2019
The NHS ten-year plan has vowed to make nursing more attractive and improve retention and recruitment, but the Royal College of Nursing is not convinced.
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The NHS England ten-year plan has acknowledged that the shortage in nursing staff is "unsustainable" and has pledged to address this. 

It has promised to make nursing careers more "rewarding" and create a "more supportive culture" for staff, noting that this will help both to improve equality of opportunity for people of all backgrounds and aid retention of skilled staff. 

The plan states that new roles and careers will be shaped to reflect the priorities set out in the ten-year blueprint, with the shift to more specialised hospital care in recent decades now set to be complemented by the addition of more "generalist skills".  

In order to achieve this, there will also be a restructuring of the way careers can be planned, noting that "to date, workforce planning has been too disjointed at a national and local level". 

The document acknowledged that the challenge is "substantial", but added that "real opportunities" exist to improve matters. 

In particular, it noted, there are more people who want to train to work in the NHS than are currently in education or training, while better career development opportunities would mean many of those currently leaving the health service would be willing to remain. 

To meet these aims, the document also pledges to "strengthen and support good, compassionate and diverse leadership at all levels - managerial and clinical - to meet the complex practical, financial and cultural challenges a successful workforce plan and Long Term Plan will demand."

Responding to the proposal, the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) said it welcomed the "ambitious" set of ideas for the next ten years, but warned that a shortage of nurses could be the biggest threat to the goals set out in it. 

It said the pledges to ensure there are enough staff are "vague", with a workforce plan not due out until later this year. 

Dame Donna Kinnair, the acting RCN chief executive, also expressed concern at plans to make online degree courses linked to placements a means of qualifying more nurses. She said this would not be a "silver bullet" for the issue of staff shortages.

Written by James Puckle

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