Nurses are being given £1,000 each to spend on their career development to stop them quitting the NHS. The Government is promising the funding in an additional £210million for frontline health staff in what could be seen as another pre-election bribe.
The money is specifically aimed at improving the training of nurses and midwives to enhance patient care and keep staff motivated. Many staff currently have to pay for courses out of their own pockets as NHS professional development budgets have been cut in recent years.
Under the plans – to be officially unveiled in tomorrow’s spending review – 440,000 nurses, midwives and support staff will have access to a £1,000 pot every three years.
This can only be spent on their professional development, such as a course on prescribing powerful drugs or better care for dementia patients. Nurses are also required to do 35 hours of training every three years to ensure their skills are up-to-date in order to stay on the official register.
But Labour said the money fell well short of what the Health Service needed.
The full spending review will be unveiled by Chancellor Sajid Javid in the Commons. He said: ‘Our nurses, midwives and other dedicated NHS professionals care for us so it’s right we support them to develop rewarding and fulfilling careers.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: ‘I love the NHS. I want to send a crystal-clear message that once you choose to join the NHS family, we will look after you and help you develop the knowledge, skills and training you need to do the job you love for life.
‘We must start by looking after the nurses, midwives and other dedicated professionals we have already so they choose to stay and pursue a lifelong career within our brilliant NHS.’
Staff, however, will not all be handed a £1,000 cheque. The details are still under discussion but it is likely employees will have to apply for funding. Labour health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘This falls short of Labour’s £330million pledge to invest in training our NHS staff.’
He added that the funding ‘comes after years of Tory cuts contributing to a staffing crisis which has seen 100,000 shortages across the Health Service. The truth is the Tories simply don’t care about the NHS’.
Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: ‘Staff tell me time and again how important ongoing training is when they are thinking about their next career move so I know today’s signal of intent will be welcomed across the Health Service.’ Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘This will help to ensure every nurse can access the training they need.’
However she also called for the measure to be ‘extended to all nursing staff, not just those in the Health Service’.
Dame Donna added: ‘We now urge the Government to address the workforce crisis in the NHS by investing £1billion in nurse higher education to increase our domestic supply of nurses.’
The Treasury insists the training money is new. Last month, another £1.8billion announced for the NHS was said by critics to be ‘recycled’ cash which hospitals had already been given but banned from spending.
By SOPHIE BORLAND|DAILY MAIL
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