Strengthening the workforce has been presented as a key focus within the NHS five year forward plan with their aim to help to support their staff further. But with time pressures and funding a bigger challenge than ever, how are nurses expected to continue their professional development successfully, what support is available to help nurses complete their development within the NHS, and could external suppliers better support nurses on their continued educational journey?
Since April 2016, revalidation is the new process that ALL nurses have to undertake in order to retain their registration on the nursing and midwifery council. This process of revalidation must take place every 3 years and in addition to the mandatory 450 practice hours that must be completed, there is a requirement that 35 hours of CPD, 5 pieces of practice related feedback, 5 written reflective accounts and reflective discussions are completed, alongside the more administrative tasks of a health and character declaration and the necessary indemnity arrangements. Whilst this process of revalidation is expected to ensure that nurses can demonstrate their continued ability to practice safely and effectively, the time to study and the funding available for development is becoming ever tighter. Furthermore, nurses have to pay for their own registration and revalidation fees.
In February 2015, the annual registration fee increased from £100 to £120 pounds whilst nurses also have to fund their own revalidation fee costs every 3 years. Whilst the increased registration costs may seem minimal, evidence suggests that nurses have experienced a ‘real-terms’ pay cut of 14 per cent since 2010 whilst further evidence suggests all NHS workers will have had their pay cut by 12% by the end of the decade! New research now demonstrates that the number of health care professionals that are struggling with debt has risen 10% in the last 2 years, leaving nurses battling to make ends meet.
It would seem that funding support for continued education is the least of nurse’s worries if salaries are becoming ever more restricted. Sadly, it’s becoming evident that nurses are starting to vote with their feet as there are more and more staff shortages becoming apparent. More than 33,000 nurses left the NHS last year, which is an increase of 20% since 2012-2013, and now means that there are more nurses leaving the profession than are joining! This inevitably puts a greater strain on the NHS, creating additional work for those nurses who remain, and giving them very little time to focus on their continued development.
There would seem to be a growing dilemma. Continued professional development is hugely important within the nursing profession where the impact of individual actions can have a direct effect on patient health and, with a reduced workforce, can only mean that up skilling will become of even greater importance as nurse will have to take on greater responsibility. And yet despite this, it would seem that the demands on nursing time, and reduced funding, are worse than ever!
Could suppliers help to fill some of the void by creating more content, and courses, to support the educational journey? Nurses have to interact with many products, on a daily basis, during the course of their work and with modern technology advancing at an ever increasing pace there are methods available to provide support in real time. Having information at their fingertips, related to specific products, and therapies, could help provide some of the continued development our nurses need, without them needing to spend significant lengths of time away from work.
Now more than ever we need to support our nurses and with a different approach suppliers could be well placed to do just that. Creating this added value will serve to strengthen the relationship between companies and their customer base with the resultant impact on revenue growth over the longer term.