Health Secretary announces nursing workforce reforms

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced wide-ranging reforms to increase nurse training places and retain staff.

A 25% increase in training posts for nurses is part of a range of measures to:

  • Ensure the NHS meets current and future nursing workforce needs.
  • Improve working conditions.
  • Provide new routes into the profession.

The Government will provide funding for the clinical placements required for an additional 5,170 pre-registration nurse degrees from 2018. This builds on the commitment to 10,000 more training places for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals announced in August this year.

A further 5,000 nursing associates will be trained through the apprentice route in 2018, with an additional 7,500 being trained in 2019. Nursing associate is a new role which provides a work-based route into nursing for existing health and care staff or new recruits who may not be able to give up work to study full-time at university.

A new shortened nurse degree apprenticeship route will also be introduced for qualified nursing associates who wish to work towards full Nursing Midwifery Council registered nurse status.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, said: “The NHS will be looking after a million more over-75s in just a decade, so we need to jump-start nurse training.

“This represents the biggest increase in nurse training places in the history of the NHS – and we will make sure that many of the additional places go to healthcare assistants training on hospital sites. This will allow us to expand our nurse workforce with some highly experienced people already working on the NHS frontline.

“We will also improve retention rates amongst our current workforce, introducing new arrangements to support flexible working available to all NHS staff, and a new right of first refusal for affordable housing built on NHS property. Combined with the 25% increase in undergraduate medical school places announced last year it will transform the ability of the NHS to cope with the pressures ahead.”

As well as training more nurses, the Health Secretary announced new measures to improve working conditions for the NHS workforce, including:

  • Arrangements to support flexible working to help staff to balance work-life commitment.
  • A system of staff banks for flexible workers across the NHS, increasing opportunities for NHS staff to work on NHS terms and reduce agency costs for employers.
  • A ‘Homes for Nurses’ scheme – which will give 3,000 NHS workers first refusal on affordable housing generated through the sale of surplus NHS land.

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