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RCN: Coalition cut student nursing commissions

A report from the Royal College of Nursing said a significant contributing factor to the shortage of nurses in England are the cuts the Coalition Government made to student nursing commissions in 2010, falling by 13.5% by 2012 - a reduction of 3,375 places.

RCN: Coalition cut student nursing commissions. Credit: PA

The report said that as it takes three years for student nurses to qualify, these cuts are impacting on the supply of nurses right now.

A reliance on using agency nurses means that the NHS would have spent an estimated £980 million on them by the end of the 2014/15 financial year, the college said. It said that as with GPs, the nursing workforce is ageing, with around 45% being over 45.

Nursing chief: 'We warned cutting nurses was wrong'

The chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said that the organisation had warned that cutting nursing workforce numbers was the "wrong course to take".

We warned that cutting the workforce numbers to fund the NHS reorganisation and to find the efficiency savings was the wrong course to take.

The cuts were so severe that we are only just catching up with where we were five years ago. Many areas, like district nursing and mental health, are even worse off.

While the health service has spent the last five years running on the spot, demand has continued to increase. Whoever forms the next Government must learn from this report and take immediate action to grow the nursing workforce, and ensure it can keep up with demand with a sustainable and long-term plan.

– Dr Peter Carter, chief executive & general secretary of the RCN
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