Health secretary slams lack of access to training for nurses

Health secretary Alan Johnson has hit out at NHS organisations that fail to offer nurses access to continuing professional development and training.

Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson

He said it was unacceptable that nurses were expected to use their holiday time to attend training and often had to pay for it themselves.

In his speech to the RCN Congress in Bournemouth last week, which received a standing ovation, Mr Johnson said that the government would look at ‘what needs to be done to ensure registered nurses can gain access to training and development throughout their careers’.

He added: ‘Some trusts are very good at this, but it is patchy, and too many duck their responsibilities.

‘I am frankly amazed at the sacrifices nurses make to acquire training. Nurses should not be expected to use their holiday time, or their hard earned pay for training. This is unacceptable in other professions — there’s no reason why it should be acceptable for nurses.’

Mr Johnson also said there was a ‘strong case’ for making nursing an all-graduate profession. However, he cautioned that the DoH wanted to be ‘absolutely sure that graduate-level registration doesn’t hinder recruitment.’

The health secretary pledged to involve nurses in future changes
to the NHS. Mr Johnson said that nurses were best placed to identify where things were going wrong. Where nurses had ownership of change, rather than it being imposed by ‘innovation-crazed management consultants’, reform was more likely to succeed, he added.

Mr Johnson also suggested that health and social care would become more joined up in the future. He said the current system in Northern Ireland, where health and social care are integrated, ‘could be a pathfinder for what we do in England and Wales’.

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