UNIVERSITY of Worcester chiefs have called on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to release the proposed 5,000 nursing places straight away and avoid the confusion of earlier this year.
Vice chancellor and chief executive Professor David Green spoke out after Mr Hunt pledged the places would be created next year in a bid to boost the number of home-grown NHS staff as Britain leaves the EU.
Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, the Health Secretary pledged to deliver the largest increase in training ‘in the history of the NHS’ and boost numbers by a quarter.
While he welcomed the news, Professor Green urged the Government to reveal the actual numbers his university could expect to train.
In January the Government announced that there would be 10,000 new places, but none were actually created until mid-August, when 1,500 were announced for courses starting just three weeks later.
“The selection and education of the right people to become nurses is an absolutely essential foundation of a well-functioning health system,” Professor Green said.
“It is very important that this year’s confusion with announcements and re-announcements before a single new place was actually created is not repeated.
“If 5,000 is the new number, and that 5,500 nursing associate places will be created in addition, it is essential there is a region by region, university by university, allocation of these places as soon as possible.
“The Government has finally acknowledged that we need to educate more nurses, so let’s have the specific detailed announcements now, so that we can get on with job we want to do of educating the skilled health workers the country needs straightaway.”
The respected university chief has constantly opposed the cuts to nursing education and the scrapping of the bursary for aspiring nurses.
Figures have revealed a 19 per cent drop in those wishing to study nursing after the bursaries for courses were scrapped.
“All universities educating nurses and our health partners will do our very best to educate more nurses now to the highest possible standards,” said Professor Green.
“In order to do this we need the same number of funded placements within the NHS.
“Every qualified nurse studies for three years at university, including 2,100 hours of expertly supervised work in the operating theatres, on the wards, and in the surgeries.
“Places can be created quickly but we need to know the actual number straightaway.”