Cuts to senior nursing roles could jeopardise plans to create more seven-day services across the NHS in England.
In response to figures that show the number of nurses employed in the two most senior grades has fallen by 3% since 2010, the Royal College of Nursing said senior nursing posts would be crucial in any proposed plans for seven-day services.
While overall nursing numbers have risen over the past five years, the number of senior band seven and eight roles being filled has fallen by 2,295 to a little over 64,000.
Senior nursing roles cover positions such as ward sisters and nurse consultants who are responsible for decision-making, mentoring junior colleagues and supervising teams.
Although the government has pledged to recruit a further 5,000 new GPs and 5,000 support staff, in preparation for GP surgery weekend openings, there has been little detail about how the initiative will work for routine hospital operations and cancer care.
The Department of Health has announced that extra funding is being provided to train a “new generation” of nursing leaders.
This makes for good headlines, but I think more clarity is needed on how the seven-day proposals are actually going to work and how they’ll be paid for.
The Department of Health has said it is liaising with NHS England on the issue which is set to be a major theme at the British Medical Association’s annual conference.
Nursing staff and in particular, senior nursing experts, will play a huge role in delivering effective 7-day care. I believe the NHS needs to address how the falling number of senior nurses is impacting the NHS services.
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