Freedom to speak up Staff must feel safe and confident when expressing their views. If something concerns them, they should feel able to speak up, knowing they will be listened to and supported. If a member of staff finds a better way of doing something, they should feel empowered to share it. NHS colleagues must be able to use their voices to shape their roles, workplace, the NHS, and their communities, to improve the health and care of the nation.

Staff recognised and rewarded The People Plan emphasises the need to ensure staff are recognised and appreciated – whether a simple thank you for their day- to-day work, or formal recognition for their dedication, such as every decade of service to the NHS. Staff should have a fair salary, a competitive pension, and an attractive package of extended benefits, whatever their role.

Compassionate and inclusive The People Plan acknowledges that discrimination, violence and bullying have

Wellbeing is a priority and staff should be supported to stay mentally and physically fit and healthy through working hour limits, healthier food choices and access to schemes to help them stay in shape.

no place in the NHS, and yet they exist and thrive in some places. It states that the NHS must become a place where all are welcome, with “a culture of belonging and trust, celebrating diversity in all its forms”. Teams and organisations, particularly the senior leadership of the NHS, should actively reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. NHS colleagues must also be kind and respectful – although staff may feel the pressure at times, they must care for each other, as they care for their patients. The NHS must not tolerate any form of discrimination, bullying or violence, and call out inappropriate behaviour.

Delivering the People Plan NHS England and Improvement feature a wide range of useful links and documents ( people/the-programme-and-resources/ we-are-recognised-and-rewarded/) to help deliver on these promises, including a number of ‘inclusive and compassionate workplace success stories.’

It also advises on the initiatives and actions that the NHS can take forward now. This includes workforce assessments to help identify people with potentially increased vulnerability to infection or adverse outcomes from COVID-19. NHS employers are advised to carry out a risk assessment for vulnerable

New funding promised to double nursing apprentices

Nursing careers in England will be made more accessible through a new Government package worth up to £172 million, which will enable healthcare employers to take on up to 2,000 nursing degree apprentices every year over the next four years. Nursing degree apprenticeships provide a route into nursing where people can train to nationally recognised standards and earn as they learn, benefiting those for whom a full-time university course is not practical or preferred.

NHS and other healthcare employers will receive £8,300 per placement per year for both new and existing apprenticeships. Nursing degree apprentices already receive a salary and have their tuition costs paid for through the apprenticeship programme. The funding will enable employers to meet the costs of taking on apprentices, including staffing costs while apprentices are undertaking education and training. The nursing degree apprenticeship is a

four-year course with placements available in the four fields of adult, children, mental health and learning disability, after which students can qualify as fully registered nurses. NHS and social care employers currently train around 1,000 nurse apprentices every year.

In addition to this funding, employers in England will also benefit from a new payment announced last month of £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and £1,500 for each new

apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, up until 31 January 2021. Gillian Keegan, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, commented: “Nursing apprenticeships are a brilliant way to start a truly rewarding career with our fantastic NHS. Nurses are at the heart of our NHS and their care, compassion and support of patients save and transform lives across the country every day. This multi-million-pound funding boost will help to support thousands of apprentices to gain the skills they need and earn while they learn. Apprenticeships are an excellent way for anyone, regardless of their background, to kick start their career or to progress.”

Commenting on the announcement,

Sally Warren, director of policy at The King’s Fund, said: “Action to recruit more nurses is necessary and welcome, and apprenticeships are a good model for attracting more people to the profession. Yet, despite this announcement being a positive


step, it alone will not solve chronic staff shortages in health and care services. “Even before the pandemic, the health and care workforce were in a state of crisis, with high levels of work-related stress, reports of overworked staff looking to leave their jobs, and a shortage of around 40,000 nurses.It’s been 18 months since an NHS workforce strategy was promised, but, so far, we have only seen piecemeal announcements that do not add up to a comprehensive plan. Delays to Government spending decisions have left the health service without the long-term investment and concrete commitments needed to recruit the doctors, nurses and other staff needed to address workforce shortages. “The announcement also leaves some unanswered questions for social care, a sector that went into the COVID-19 pandemic grappling with over 120,000 vacancies. Health and social care services work closely together and in the absence of comparable action to recruit and retain more social care staff, there is a risk that the NHS recruitment drive will inadvertently exacerbate workforce shortages in social care.”

The RCN welcomed the move, but reiterated calls for an end to self-funded tuition fees and reintroduction of a universal maintenance grant for all nursing students in order to fill the thousands of nursing vacancies in England.


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