THE LEADER of the Royal College of Nursing yesterday poured scorn on Tory government claims to be increasing the NHS workforce by 10,000 nurses and 1,500 doctors a year.
RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary Janet Davies insisted: ‘It’s unclear where extra nursing students will come from when the removal of student funding is putting many people off entering the profession.
‘When it comes to the future supply of nurses, the government is turning off the tap – nursing degree applications have fallen sharply and the pay cap is forcing many nurses out of the job they love. It’s time for ministers to face facts: they will struggle to build a strong and resilient workforce unless they lift the cap on pay and reinstate student funding.’
Regarding the Tory government claim to be providing extra money, she said: ‘It’s a very small amount of investment towards the amount of money that was taken away in savings as the government is no longer paying for the education of nurses and they are doing that by having to take out a loan.
‘At the moment we don’t see what effect it is having. We know there have been far fewer applications, we haven’t yet seen the final figures that are coming in. But you know this is a drop in the ocean – 10,000 when we know we’ve already got a vacancy of 40,000 and we know there are more people leaving the nursing register than are actually joining it.
‘So we do need to do something about the nurses we have here. First of all, colleagues of ours who were recruited from Europe, they need absolute assurance that they can stay and carry on with their career in our NHS. And of course the big problem we’ve got in keeping people in the health service is that cap on salaries. We need to scrap that cap and give nurses the pay rises they deserve.’
• Families with children and babies in Shropshire face swingeing cuts to health visiting services, Unite warned yesterday. Unite said cuts of £600,000 a year, being demanded by Shropshire county council in the proposed contract for Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust, due to start on 11 October, will see specialist community nurse posts, mainly senior health visitors, being cut by 19.5 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts, with the resulting negative impact on families, often the most vulnerable in the community.
Unite regional officer Stuart Baker said: ‘This is the thin end of the wedge and we are calling on the Shropshire public to make its collective voice heard before the consultation process ends on 8 September, so these proposed cuts are stopped in their tracks.
‘The rhetoric is to improve services, but the actual agenda is to drive through cuts estimated to be £600,000 a year – or a 14.3 per cent budget cut for these services. The health visiting and school nursing services now come under the public health budget which resides with local authorities. What we are faced with is a tsunami of cuts to health visiting, school nursing and community nursery nurses in Shropshire.’