Labour’s proposals to boost the NHS workforce have been welcomed by nursing bodies, but the RCN has warned that any solution must tackle the wider workforce issues in the NHS.
Speaking at the Labour Party conference today, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves announced plans for ‘one of the biggest expansions of the NHS workforce in history’ if elected.
Ms Reeves claimed that Labour would will double the number of district nurses qualifying every year train, train more than 5,000 new health visitors’, and create ‘an additional 10,000 nursing and midwife placements every year’.
Responding to the proposals, Pat Cullen, RCN general secretary and chief executive, said that although the plan ‘potentially’ addressed ‘some workforce gaps’, she maintains that the problem across the system is ‘far greater’.
She warned that Labour must ‘get to the root of the problem’ in order to succeed with the NHS, adding: ‘With 47,000 unfilled nurse posts in England’s NHS alone and 25,000 staff leaving the profession in the last year alone, urgent investment is needed in measures to recruit and retain – including fair pay and funding tuition fees.’
However, Dr Crystal Oldman, chief executive of the QNI, told Nursing in Practice that the QNI ‘fully supports and welcomes the proposals’.
The proposed doubling of district nurse qualifications is supported by data from the QNI’s community nurse executive nurse network based on increasing demand for more care ‘delivered into peoples homes’, she added.
‘Having more district nurses who work at an advanced level of practice, leading and managing teams of regulated and unregulated staff ‘will help the whole system and will enable high quality, complex care to be delivered in peoples’ homes and communities.’
Meanwhile, Alison Morton, the Institute for Health Visitors executive director, said she was ‘delighted’ by the news.
‘Today’s welcomed announcement is good news for babies, children and families, and the health visiting workforce that supports them,’ she said. ‘Years of underinvestment in health visiting has been a costly mistake putting people at risk of poorer health and storing up problems for the future.
‘Despite health visitors’ best efforts, there are not enough health visitors to meet the level of need and too many babies, young children and families are missing out on this vital support.’