The Health Committee say too little attention has been given to retaining nurses in the NHS, which has resulted in more nurses now leaving than joining the professional register, in its report on the Nursing workforce.
Causes of shortfall
There are many causes for this shortfall, including workload pressures, poor access to continuing professional development, pay and a general sense of not feeling valued.
The Committee heard a clear message during the Inquiry that access to continuing professional development plays an important role in retention. The report calls for Health Education England to reverse cuts to nurses’ continuing professional development budgets. Funding allocated to trusts should be specifically ringfenced for CPD for nurses, and specific funding should also be made available to support CPD for nurses working in the community.
Assurance for nurses from other EU nations
Following a Question to the PM on the Floor of the House, the Committee recommend that further assurances be given to nurses who originate from other EU nations that they will be able to remain in the UK with their families after Brexit. The Committee also recommends that nursing remains on the Shortage Occupation List.
Impact of the removal of nursing bursaries
The government needs to closely monitor the impact of the removal of nursing bursaries. The Committee is concerned about the emerging indicators of the impact of bursaries on mature students. Action should also be taken to address high attrition rates from degree courses and the level of variation.
New role of Nursing Associate
The Committee welcomed the introduction of the new role of Nursing Associate and the expansion of career opportunities this brings for Health Care Assistants. The government needs to ensure that these new Nursing Associates have a clear professional identity, which the public understands and recognises.
Chair of the Committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, says
"We met many front line nurses during the course of this Inquiry. We heard a clear message about workload pressures as well as ideas about how to address these. We will return to this subject in a year to make sure that improvements have been made in nurse retention, working conditions, and continuing professional development."