Will the NHS Improvement interim plan help solve the nursing staff crisis?
On 3 June, NHS Improvement launched the Interim NHS People Plan to address staff shortages in the health service. (NHS Improvement, 2019). This aspires to ensure that the NHS Long Term Plan (NHS England, NHS Improvement, 2019), which sets out the Government's 10-year vision for health care in England, does not get derailed by staff shortages. The interim plan aims to address many of the concerns that have been aired about the current staffing crisis, but principally the shortage of nursing staff.
Ever since the creation of the General Nursing Council (GNC) in December 1919 the nursing profession has been beleaguered by staff shortages. The passing of the Nurses Bill, which paved the way for a register of nurses, was controversial because many nurses who had undergone a variety of training courses were not actually eligible to join the register. In fact, the register did not officially open until 27 July 1921 and the process was slow; Ethel Bedford Fenwick, the chair of the registration committee, insisted on personally scrutinising the qualifications of all applicants. Hence, by 1923, there were only 12 097 nurses on the register (Glasper and Charles Edwards, 2002).
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