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Labour pledges to invest £330m to tackle retention crisis

Approximately £330m would be invested in staff training and development in 2023/24 if Labour were in power, the party has announced.

The pledge from shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth would see CPD budgets restored to 2013/14 levels as part of efforts to help solve the workforce crisis, following cuts stretching back five years. 

In addition, nurse bursaries would be reintroduced, after they were replaced with the student loans system in August 2017, and the funding for health-related degrees reinstated. Work visas would be provided for anyone who has a job offer in the NHS at whatever level.

The announcement comes as new research from Labour shows 200,000 have nurses have left the NHS since 2010. Voluntary resignations have seen a 55% increase, with the number citing work-life balance as a reason to quit increasing by 169% between 2011/12 (6,699) and 2017/18 (18,013).

In a speech at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank today, Mr Ashworth argued that the Government is not upholding the NHS Constitution, which guarantees staff a good working environment, safe working conditions and fair treatment.

He said: ‘It’s utterly staggering that our NHS has lost over 200,000 nurses under the Tories and that voluntary resignations from the NHS is up 55%.

‘We are facing a retention crisis in our NHS and standards which staff should expect – enshrined in the NHS Constitution – have simply been abandoned.

‘After years of pay restraint, cuts to training budgets and growing pressures it is no wonder the NHS is facing chronic shortages of 100,000 staff. These shortages affect patient care every day as waiting lists grow and operations are cancelled.

‘A Labour government will invest in NHS staff and help staff develop to meet the challenges of the future. It’s my ambition that the NHS becomes the best employer in the world. It’s not only the correct thing to do to improve the quality of care of patients, it’s in our economic interest as well.’