Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, has called for a detailed plan on nurse education places in Wales to be released urgently, and for the plans to show clear signs that lessons have been learnt from the COVID-19 experience.
Mr ap Iorwerth says that “despite promises” from Labour Welsh Government of a new workforce strategy, and the establishment of a new body to oversee workforce education, he says there’s “little evidence that historic problems are being put behind us.” Established in October 2018, Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) oversees the education of the healthcare workforce in Wales.
While nurse education plans were developed prior to the pandemic, Mr ap Iorwerth understands that these are being reworked, but says “it’s feared that until that work is finished, decisions on staffing and education will continue to happen in an ad-hoc manner with no real strategy.”
In particular, there are concerns about nursing in the areas of children, mental health, learning disability and district nursing, which have seen shortfalls before.
Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:
“The publication of Commissioning Figures for nurse education placements are an important part of the workforce planning cycle. The plan needs to be fit for purpose, it needs to be detailed, and it needs to be delivered as a matter of urgency.
“However, despite promises of a Welsh Government new workforce strategy, and the establishment of a new body to oversee workforce and education matters – Health Education and Improvement Wales – there’s little evidence that historic problems are being put behind us.
“In particular, we need to know that areas that have suffered from shortfalls in recent years have been targeted. These include the training of children’s, mental health and learning disability nurses and also more district nurses.
“Our NHS and care services are only as good as the staff working in them. Now is the time for a real strategy on nurses education, which includes the creation of sufficient training places in key areas. Nurses also need to be given the time by the health boards to continue with their education, which in turns helps them to advance their careers and ensure all specialisms are filled.
“Until that work is finished, decisions on staffing and education will continue to happen in an ad-hoc manner with no real strategy, and that will be to the detriment of Welsh nurses and, ultimately, their patients.”