The most frequent reason for nurses struggling to access training in core areas was staff shortages and a lack of cover, the survey revealed.
It also highlighted that only 56% of nurses felt they were up to date with their training, and suggested some nurses are taking annual leave or self-funding their training in areas such as infection control, child protection and basic life support.
The RCN is warning that this situation is one of the ‘red flags' indicating that cut-backs are starting to bite and is calling for protected training time and safer staffing levels as part of its general election manifesto.
Janet Davies, executive director of nursing and service delivery for the RCN, said: ‘We know from previous economic downturns that training is often the first place managers look when they need to start making cuts - even though nurses need to be up-to-date with issues such as infection control and child protection at all times.'
She added: ‘Mandatory training is there for a reason - it ensures that staff are up-to-date with infection control procedures, life saving techniques and good practice. It is a testament to the dedication of these nurses that they are prepared to give their own time to learn and update their practice, but many are simply unable to do this and staff should not be expected to.'