Responding to the Welsh Government’s announcement of the number of com-missioned nurse student places for 2021/22, Helen Whyley, Director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, said:
"We welcome the announcement from the Welsh Government of the additional student nurse places for adult, children and mental health nursing. However, we are disappointed that the Welsh Government has so far not confirmed the number of student places for learning disability nursing. People with learning disabilities are a particularly vulnerable group that has suffered disproportionately in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Welsh Government must increase the numbers of nursing students in this field alongside the others.
It is also very disheartening that the Welsh Government has not increased the numbers of commissioned places for district nurses in Wales. Our district nurses and community nursing teams are working incredibly long hours now, supporting their colleagues in the care home sector. District nurses are a precious resource for Wales and the majority are on the verge of retirement. This is very short-sighted of the government, particularly as the preparation to extend the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 to district nursing is progressing.
We need to know the figures in relation to these specialities; an increase in these two key areas are vital for the NHS in Wales and in turn the health and safety of the people in Wales.
Increasing the number of student nursing places in universities will help support a national retention strategy. The strategy needs to include ensuring safe nurse staffing levels, access to continuous professional development (CPD), the provision of wellbeing support, flexible working opportunities and good rates of pay.”