More than 1,000 extra trainee nursing places will be created next year as the NHS attempts to tackle the growing shortage of nurses on hospital wards.
As part of the first ever national workforce plan for the health service, Health Education England (HEE) will commission 13,228 university places for trainee nurses from 2014-15 – a 9 per cent increase – after successive reports highlighted low staffing levels at hospitals with poor care outcomes.
Trainee GP numbers will also be given a boost, while measures have been brought in to encourage more junior doctors to train to work in accident and emergency wards.
The national plan sets out how Health Education England, a new organisation, will spend its £5bn budget.
There will also be 222 extra GP training places next year, a rise of 2.7 per cent. However the overall number of medical and dental training places at UK universities will stay the same.
Postgraduate training to enter emergency medicine will be expanded by 5.6 per cent, although the increase represents only 20 extra training places.
Paramedics, who were singled out for an expanded role in a recent review of emergency health services, will see their trainee numbers increased by 30 per cent.
The Francis Report into widespread care failings at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust highlighted the problem of nurse staffing levels, and concerns were raised again by NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of hospitals with higher than average mortality rates.
Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing welcomed the news.
“We’ve seen an almost 15 per cent cut in the number of nursing student places commissioned since 2009/2010 while pressures on the health service have continued to increase,” he said. “So this measure goes some way to addressing the potential shortage of nurses that the RCN has been warning about.”
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said that the NHS was also planning to hire 3,700 extra nurses in the coming months.