Plan to retain 18,500 nurses ‘unclear’ – and possibly watered down – govt emails reveal

Leaked emails have revealed the government’s much-touted plans to retain 18,500 nurses are ‘unclear’.

21 Feb 2020| News

What’s more, an unexplained shift in the target mentioned in the emails to 12,500 nurses – 6,000 fewer than promised by the Conservative Party in the leadup to the election – suggests the policy may have been watered down.

The responsibility for creating a strategy to reduce turnover in the sector was handed to NHS England but the Health Service Journal (HSJ), which obtained the emails, has been told that the DHSC has been involving itself more closely with staffing plans in recent weeks.

Larner’s concerns were focused on a delivery plan delivered by NHSE to the DHSC, which he said contained no “trajectories or milestones”, no clear “model of change” on “culture” and no clarity over how a new “staff offer” will improve retention.

”The cause and effect is largely implied and unclear at the moment and this needs to be much clearer,” Larner was quoted by the HSJ as writing, adding that an argument to reduce turnover through pay, pensions and leadership was “weak”.

The emails also intimate that most of the 31,500 (possibly now 37,500) extra nurses the government said it would recruit to bring the net number of ‘extra’ nurses up to 50,000 could be brought in from overseas (somewhat ironically, given Priti Patel’s new hardline approach to immigration), but asks for proposals for other methods of attracting new staff.

The emails refer to new “legislation”, but it is unclear what is meant by this comment, although DHSC has previously floated the idea of lowering the required qualification levels for new nurses.