Ed Miliband promises to raise number of nurses in training

Ed Miliband Smile

Ed Miliband is to unveil on Tuesday a proposal to get an extra 1,000 nurses into training this year – the start of Labour plans to ultimately recruit 20,000 extra nurses by 2020.

The Labour leader’s announcement will be made after Sir Malcolm Grant, the chairman of NHS England, condemned the top-down reorganisation enforced by the Tories of the provision of healthcare.

Miliband will say that Labour ministers would, on their first day in office, instruct officials to call on universities to reopen admissions for highly oversubscribed nursing courses this year after 30,000 would-be nurses were turned down because of a lack of places in 2014.

Health policy

Miliband’s pledge, to be made in a speech in Manchester, comes as a survey by the Health Service Journal shows more than four out of five acute hospitals in England are failing to meet their own targets for nurse staffing.

Grant underscored the financial pressures facing the NHS and the need to avoid a repeat of the top-down reorganisation.

At a conference in India, Grant said that even reducing the NHS funding shortfall to £8bn required “an extraordinary efficiency and productivity transformation of the NHS”.

He said there needed to be a return to annual increases of about 4% in NHS funding, which was the norm until the 2008 financial crash. Since then, it has been about 1%.

Admitting the NHS had a huge problem, Grant said: “Since the global financial crisis of 2008, the country’s ability to sustain that level of financial investment has been lost, so since then our annualised growth rate has been more in the region of 1%, as opposed to 4%.

“This has been a remarkable squeeze on our ability to provide comprehensive healthcare. The major contribution to it has actually been made by holding down salaries and wages during a period in which the employment market has been depressed. That clearly is not going to be available to us as the economy starts to pick up.

“There is waste throughout the system which is not well wrapped around the needs of patients as they progress through a pathway of care for their particular condition.

“We are now spending 70% of our budget on long-term conditions, not on episodic health care”.

In a clear attack on the reforms introduced by the coalition government, he warned against any more NHS shakeups. “These have been a recurrent theme of political parties over the last three decades – it’s visible, it’s clear, it’s something which for the political class can be an attractive way of bringing about change. Our belief is that we need to reverse that,” Grant said.

Miliband, determined not to be knocked off course by the Tory attack on his possible dependence on Scottish National party after the general election, will stick this week to the theme of the NHS, seen in polls as the number one issue for voters.

He will draw a contrast between Labour’s plan and “the dangerous deceit” of the Conservatives’ offer which fails to provide new funding.

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, revealed on Monday that Labour’s first budget would include laws to introduce a tobacco levy and a mansion tax on properties worth more than £2m and action to tackle tax avoidance. He said that would deliver £2.5bn in new revenue each year from 2016-17.

The HSJ survey shows shows that 194 out of 229 NHS trusts for which figures are available missed their own targets for the number of nurses who should be present on wards during the day. Two-thirds failed to meet their own target for the number of nurses on duty at night.

In all, 79 hospitals missed their target for the total number of nurse hours that should have been filled during the day; the figure was more than 10% at 45 hospitals. For night shifts, 96 hospitals breached their target by up to 5% and 43 by between 6% and 10%, while 15 trusts filled fewer than 90% of their planned nurse hours.

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said the figures were “yet more proof of the shortage of nurses in the Tory NHS”.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Patrick Wintour Political editor, for The Guardian on Monday 20th April 2015 22.00 Europe/London

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