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22nd April 2013

PM defends proposals to make trainee nurses do 'basic' care work

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has today (April 22) defended proposals to ensure trainee nurses in England undertake a year's work as healthcare assistants in hospitals before starting their nursing degree.

The plans, which came to light in late March, are controversial but Mr Cameron said the NHS needed "to do better in the level of care" it provides.

Under the plans, before starting their nursing training applicants would need to work for a year learning "some of the quite mundane tasks which are absolutely vital to get right in hospital", Mr Cameron added.

The proposals by UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt came in the wake of the Francis Report into the failings at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust which highlighted issues including poor care and neglect.

RCN criticises healthcare work proposals

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) president Andrea Spyropoulos said she was astounded when she heard the Government's proposals to get student nurses to work as healthcare assistants before starting their degree.

She said: "I don't believe it will happen. I believe it is a really stupid idea that will not benefit patients."

The RCN has criticised the proposals and called for guarantees on minimum staffing levels to ensure quality of care because nurses are already over-stretched.

RCN General Secretary Dr Peter Carter pointed out that the proposal was not one of the 290 recommendations of the Francis Report.

He said: "There seems to be a view out there that somehow they [trainee nurses] spend all of their time in universities. That simply isn't the case. Student nurses in their training spend over 50% of their time in clinical areas."

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