Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth MP, told GPs in the closing keynote of the Pulse Live conference yesterday that practice nurses make a ‘vital contribution’ to make to patient care and that if elected, his party would reinstate the nursing bursary to increase workforce numbers.
‘The wellbeing of the next generation depends on high quality general practice and primary care,’ he said.
However, ‘far from investing in the wider primary care workforce,’ Mr Ashworth pointed out, ‘there has been a fall of 343 general practice nurses’.
‘We believe more must be done to support general practice nurses. Large numbers of the workforce set to retire in the next few years – a recent survey by the Queens Nursing Institute suggested that up to a third of general practice nurses could retire by 2020, meaning mean a loss of 8,000 GPNs’.
‘My party has long campaigned for a fair deal for NHS staff but we want to go further than the Government’s offer. We will bring back the training bursary to recruit the nurses, midwifes and allied health professionals of the future and to support the existing workforce, rather than cutting continuing professional development, we will invest in it.
‘What’s more, compared to acute or other community nurses there is a gap in terms and conditions between nurses working in general practice and those working in the wider NHS so I want to work with you in looking at how we support the wider practice team.
‘We believe community and surgery-based pharmacists, practice nurses, health visitors, district nurses, specialist nurses for diabetes and asthma, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians and geriatricians all have a vital contribution to make to patient care.’
The shadow health secretary also promised the following:
- A boost in NHS spending this year of an extra £5bn.
- An extra £1bn to stabilise the social care sector this year as part of an extra £8bn across a parliament term.
- To ring fence and expand public health budgets, including creating a new £500m child health fund to improve the health and wellbeing of every child.
- To ring fence and expand mental health services budgets to genuinely deliver the parity of esteem patients deserve.
- To establish a £10bn capital investment fund to invest in NHS infrastructure, buildings, beds, latest equipment and technology.
- To establish a national programme of primary care modernisation, starting with a £500m primary care capital fund to support the upgrade of facilities and investment in new technology.