The Council of Deans of Health has welcomed the publication of the Interim NHS People Plan, which commits to a range of actions to increase the supply of undergraduate nursing students. These include a rapid expansion of clinical placement capacity by 5,000 for September 2019; a review of current clinical placement activity to support future expansion; the development of a single recruitment campaign to promote and support growth in nursing; an expansion of nursing associate education; and the development of proposals for a blended learning nursing degree programme.
Dr Katerina Kolyva, Executive Director of the Council, said:
“There is much to welcome in the Interim People Plan. We are pleased to see explicit recognition of the importance of retaining stringent entry requirements whilst tackling potential barriers to entry. The Council has been working closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement since the publication of the Long Term Plan and fully supports the ambition to create additional clinical placements and the commitment to strengthening the image and perception of the profession. We know universities will work collaboratively with local employers to recruit extra students where additional capacity is found, but it is important to note that additional placements will not necessarily translate into a commensurate increase in student numbers, particularly this late in the recruitment cycle.
“While the Plan does acknowledge the need to increase understanding and uptake of existing financial support for students it stops short of recommending additional support, such as maintenance grants, to attract and retain students. This is a missed opportunity which should certainly be addressed through the Full People Plan”.
Reflecting on the Plan’s focus on nursing, Dr Kolyva noted that:
“Although the focus of the Interim Plan is on urgent action to tackle nursing shortages, we will want to see further concrete action to support growth of the allied health professions workforce. We look forward to working with national bodies to promote and expand these professions in line with population needs”.
Responding to the Interim Plan setting out a new operating model for workforce planning, Dr Kolyva commented:
“The Council welcomes this revised approach with clearer responsibilities at local, regional and national level and we would highlight the need for universities to be closely involved in these discussions at all levels if these ambitious workforce plans are to be realised”.