Employers in every setting across the UK must ensure nursing staff have access to continuing professional development (CPD) and guarantee protected time for it, the RCN has said.
Without this nursing staff are at risk of falling behind with the latest developments in medicine and practice, with patient safety at risk as a consequence.
But frontline nurses have told the RCN that their employers grant study leave that is often cancelled due to the “winter crisis”and other staffing pressures. Cuts to training budgets in England resulted in a significant drop in the number of courses available.
A new RCN report, Investing in a Safe and Effective Workforce: Continuing Professional Development for Nurses in the UK, argues that the current situation could also lead to nurses being removed from the professional register in extreme cases, adding to staff shortages. A third of nurses told the Nursing Standard that during the revalidation process they had managed only 10 or fewer hours of continuing professional development (CPD) training each year, falling short of the 35 hours required.
The report also says the current workforce will begin to supervise students learning the new NMC standards from next year and they require appropriate CPD to support that next generation.
Janet Davies, RCN Chief Executive, said: “For the sake of patient safety, nurses must be allowed to keep up-to-date with developments and advance into tomorrow’s nurse leadership positions.
“Policymakers and employers must find a way to fund and guarantee this time. Nurses must not be allowed to fall foul of the regulator’s requirement.”
The RCN is calling for all bodies in health care education funding and workforce development to urgently publish data on total funding allocations for CPD, training undertaken and workforce needs. The College is also calling on politicians to reverse the cuts to date and boost opportunities – echoing a call by the cross-party Commons’ Health Select Committee earlier this year.