Hunt to increase nurse training places by a quarter

3 Oct 17

The number of nurse training places is to be increased by a quarter, health secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Conservative Party today.

In his keynote speech at the Conservative Conference in Manchester, Hunt acknowledged that more health professionals were needed.

“We’ll increase the number of nurse we train by 25%,” he said. “That’s a permanent increase of more than 5,000 nurse training places every single year.”

This summer, Hunt announced a large expansion in health professional numbers, promising an additional 1,500 medical student places and 10,000 more nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.

He added that the government also wanted to diversify the routes into nursing to allow people to qualify via a four-year apprenticeship rather than a traditional university course.

The number of nursing associates – a new role that bridges the gap between healthcare assistant and registered nurse – is to be tripled.

But Hunt made no promises on the vexed issue of nurses’ pay, saying only that the government would listen to the advice of the independent pay review bodies.

Instead, he emphasised flexible working, which he said would be offered to all NHS employees during the current parliament.

Affordable housing for NHS staff will also be prioritised, the health secretary said.

“From now on when NHS land is sold, first refusal on any affordable housing built will be given to NHS employees benefiting up to 3,000 families.”

Hunt also sought to reassure EU nationals working in the health and care sectors, saying: “We want you to stay and we’re confidence you will be able to stay with the same rights you have now – so you can continues being a highly valued part of our NHS and social care family.”

Responding to the health secretary’s speech, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers and deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The commitment to use NHS land to build affordable homes is great news.

“This announcement will undoubtedly support recruitment and retention, an issue at the forefront of our members' priorities. Housing is a critical issue for staff and their families. We look forward to continuing to contribute to actions to make the secretary of state’s announcement a reality.”

Mortimer added that additional funding for more student nurse and nursing associate placements was also welcome.

“This is good news for the NHS when the supply of nursing staff from overseas is proving such a challenge to employers, and it will complement the actions being taken to improve retention of our workforce.”

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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