Health & Lifestyle

Nurses will be PAID to attend management courses and boost chances of landing senior NHS roles 

Nurses will be given paid time away from the frontline so they can attend management courses and boost their chances of landing senior NHS roles.

Steve Barclay has promised to ‘improve the lives’ of nurses by giving them more chance to progress their career and protecting them from violence.

The health secretary’s olive branch comes as more than 300,000 Royal College of Nursing members are being balloted over industrial action with polls closing tomorrow.

Writing for the Daily Mail, he said he ‘deeply regrets’ recent strikes and wants nurses to be properly represented at the top of the health service, so they have more of a say in how it is run and make it a better place to work.

It is hoped the move will prevent more nurses leaving the profession and improve patient care.

Nurses will be given paid time away from the frontline so they can attend management courses and boost their chances of landing senior NHS roles

Nurses will be given paid time away from the frontline so they can attend management courses and boost their chances of landing senior NHS roles

Steve Barclay has promised to 'improve the lives' of nurses by giving them more chance to progress their career and protecting them from violence

Steve Barclay has promised to ‘improve the lives’ of nurses by giving them more chance to progress their career and protecting them from violence

Women fill nine in ten nursing roles but fewer than half of ‘very senior’ NHS manager posts, such as chief executives and directors.

Ministers have offered NHS staff – excluding doctors, dentists and very senior managers – a pay rise of 5 per cent for 2023/24, an average rise of 4.75 per cent for 2022/23 and a one-off bonus payment of up to £3,789.

They also promised to make improvements to non-pay issues.

However, while the deal was accepted by most health unions, the RCN rejected the offer and threatened further strikes in pursuit of a double-digit rise.

Pat Cullen, the RCN’s chief executive, has accused Mr Barclay of being sexist and denying her members a larger rise because they are predominantly female.

More than 650,000 appointments and operations have been cancelled as a result of NHS strikes by the likes of junior doctors, nurses and physiotherapists since December, causing waiting lists to surge to a record 7.4million.

Mr Barclay said: ‘Nurses do an outstanding job at keeping patients safe and went above and beyond the call of duty during the pandemic to care for our loved ones.

‘I deeply regret the strike action we have seen in recent months, which has been disruptive for both staff and patients, and I want to work constructively with unions to improve the lives of staff, starting with delivering the pay deal agreed in May.

‘This week I held a meeting with a group of frontline nurses working across the NHS, from intensive care to mental health, to hear directly from them what matters most.

‘The health and wellbeing of nurses is paramount to making the NHS a better place to work.

‘I want nurses to be given more chances to progress their career by better protecting their training time so they can rise to management levels, mentor newly qualified staff, and have a say in how the NHS is run.’

Mr Barclay said he plans to trial body-worn cameras in the health service and use AI to try to reduce violence against staff after figures showed there have been 6,500 sex attacks in hospitals in three years.

He said: ‘Any kind of violence against staff is unacceptable and should never be allowed to happen in the NHS.

‘I want to create a safe environment for staff, through body-worn camera trials and a national violence prevention.

‘I’ve heard first-hand about some of the vile behaviour staff are subject to and have asked the NHS to explore how to improve the quality of the data available on these incidents, including potentially using artificial intelligence to better identify trends, and working with the police to ensure appropriate action is taken, including prosecution to ensure the NHS is always safe for staff and patients.’

The cabinet minister said NHS staff are receiving the pay rise in their pay packets from this month, meaning a newly qualified nurse will see their salary go up by more than £2,750 over two years up to 2024.

He added: ‘This deal is not just about money though and I understand staffing pressures, professional development and workload are all reasons why nurses can feel undervalued.

‘The NHS will soon publish a long-term workforce plan to grow the number of nurses and improve retention.

‘We’re making progress with 44,000 more nurses working in the NHS compared to September 2019 – but I know there’s further to go.

‘I hope RCN members recognise this is a fair deal and decide it is time to bring industrial action to an end.

‘Whatever the outcome of their ballot I will continue to deliver changes and work with the NHS Staff Council to make the NHS a better place to work so staff can provide the best possible care to patients.’

An RCN spokesperson said: ‘The commitment from the government to improve career development – as well as tackling violence and safer staffing – is positive but nursing staff are eager to see clear progress and not more promises.

‘The simplest way to raise standards is with more nurses and yet there are record unfilled jobs – our professionals are concerned over the impact of low pay and stress driving more people out.

‘The RCN will continue this year to campaign for nursing staff and to hold government to its pledges on valuing our professionals, making the NHS safer and improving cafe for patients.’

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