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Jeremy Hunt announces 5,000 more nurse training places

‘Biggest increase in nurse training places in history’

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 03 October 2017

Five thousand extra trainee nurse places will be created next year, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced. 

In his Conservative Party conference speech on nurse education, Mr Hunt 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, allowing 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 with new flexible working arrangements to be made 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 medical school places announced last year, this will transform the ability of our NHS to cope with the pressures ahead.”

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, welcomed the announcement of an increase in numbers but criticised the scheme as “too hospital-focused”.

She said: "Significant increases to training numbers is welcome - we desperately need more nurses. However, they must be educated to the highest standards. We are concerned at the risk of students plugging the gaps in the current workforce at the expense of quality patient care and their own learning experience. 

"These plans appear too hospital-focused. It is essential nurses of the future have a flexible education which enables them to work in a variety of settings to deliver a 21st century health and care service. We are prepared to work with the government on meaningful solutions for the education of nurses.

"Greater flexibility for nurses working extra shifts, supported by new technology, should improve their experience and we support this move.”

During his conference speech in Manchester, Mr Hunt also addressed the 150,000 EU workers within the NHS, stating he is “confident” that they will be able to stay in the UK “with the same rights that you have now”.

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