• £10m announced to fund new clinical placements for nurses.
  • Responds to more undergraduates applying this year.
  • Programme to convert nursing associates to registered nurses will also be launched.

An extra £10m will be invested in nursing clinical placement programmes at hospital trusts to accommodate the increase in undergraduate nurses, it was announced today.

Mark Radford, deputy chief nurse for England, said £10m more would be spent by Health Education England towards placements, in response to the 6 per cent increase in applicants to nursing courses to start later this year.

Last year, England’s chief nurse Ruth May announced plans to increase clinical placements for nurses by more than 7,500 for nurses who started training in September 2019. 

It is currently unclear how many additional placements the £10m would fund.

Professor Radford, speaking at the chief nursing officer’s summit in Birmingham, also set out plans for a £1m investment in national learning disability staff training with first course members enrolling in June 2021 following pilots this year.

He said an “all England” learning disabilities plan would be published, which would include a “roadmap” for the learning disabilities workforce.

Professor Radford confirmed funding would be released for 3,000 nursing associates to go on to train as registered nurses, and said each NA would have a personal development plan written by September.

Professor Radford described the nursing associate programme as “controversial” — some have been concerned that NAs would be used to substitute for registered nurses, even though they work at a lower standard of training and expertise — but said it should be seen as a way to “widen access” to nursing.

He also confirmed that the £150m continuing professional development allocation announced last year had been sent to trusts and primary care “hubs”.

Professor Radford said: “We are focussing on a number of initiatives to boost nursing numbers in support of the government commitment to 50,000 nurses.

“In particular in crucial areas including learning disability and district [nursing], and investing in supporting new routes into nursing and CPD as well as encouraging nurses to return to practice.”