In November I welcomed budget small print which I believed opened up the prospect of a pay rise for nursing staff. I was, therefore, delighted by last week’s announcement that more money is indeed being found for nurses’ salaries: every level benefits with a nurse with three years’ experience receiving a 25% increase in pay over three years.
Demand for nursing is only going to rise. Our population over 75 rises by one million every ten years, medical complexity increases and hugely beneficial improvements in medical science must be funded. The NHS already conducts 40 per cent more operations than a decade ago while hospital inpatients are up 30 per cent (and A&E visits by over a quarter).
Pay is an important issue for retention but one of a number of pressures. We need to ensure that there are sufficient staff to ensure a proper working environment and enable nursing staff to benefit from ongoing professional training: investing in them and the future. We already have 11,000 more doctors, and 11,000 more nurses than 10 years ago but the NHS has announced a further 3,000 new midwifery places, a further 25% increase in the number nurse training places and the creation of 5 new medical schools.
No one should doubt that the already record amount the Government spends on the NHS (more than the EU average as a share of our economy) will increase further. Our system of healthcare, free at the point of delivery, is the right system and will need increased resources as demand grows. I hope we may also see (for the first time) 10 year financial planning: appropriate to an era in which we need enhanced integration with social care.
Alongside increased resources the NHS has to continue to be one of the most efficient healthcare services in the world – ensuring the maximum benefit for patients. That is the context of how every part of the NHS at every level looks at the services they provide. We have enjoyed the benefits of the NHS for 70 years and want it to thrive in the future, I know that is also the commitment of our local providers and that patients medical needs will always come first.
Photo caption: Pupils from St Robert Southwell attending Horsham District Council’s junior citizenship sessions at the Drill Hall last week. Schools from across the District attend to be briefed first hand by a huge range of public services from the RNLI to local Magistrates.