Nurses 'missing out on training'
Nurses are missing out on essential training and career development due to staff shortages and a lack of funds, a report has warned.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said almost a fifth (18%) of nurses it questioned said they were unable to complete essential training in the last year, with nearly half (44%) of these saying they had not completed it because there were too few staff to cover them.
Of those who had undertaken the training, almost half (48%) said no cover was provided while they were absent from normal duties - potentially putting patients at risk.
And one in 10 had to use annual leave and complete compulsory training in their own time.
More than a third (34%) said they do not feel up to date with core training in the profession.
The survey of more than 14,000 nursing staff also found access to Continued Professional Development (CPD) was low , despite t he Nursing & Midwifery Council ( NMC) requiring all nurses to complete at least 35 hours of training over three years.
More than a quarter (26%) of respondents reported that they had no access to structured CPD, with a similar amount (26%) believing that CPD opportunities have got worse over the past five years.
The poll also revealed that nursing staff have to use their own time and money to undertake CPD activities, with t he majority (85%) carrying out training in their own time during the last year, and a quarter (25%) using annual leave.
Almost a third (31%) said they have to fund CPD themselves.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: "It is absolutely critical that all nurses receive essential training each year to maintain standards of care for patients, and it is extremely worrying that almost one in five nurses has not been able to do this.
"Whoever forms the next government must ensure that access to training is a fundamental part of its offer to nursing staff who keep the NHS going day after day, year after year.
"RCN members have highlighted this as one of their main priorities for the future of the health service ahead of the General Election.
"It is unacceptable that workplaces are so short staffed that nurses cannot be released for training, and it is shameful that many have to do essential sessions in their own time. Employers need to address this shortage urgently or risk harm to patients.
"Nurses want to grow professionally, and putting obstacles in their way sends completely the wrong signal. This is a profession that is constantly changing and developing and nurses need and deserve opportunities to keep up to date.
"The RCN is supportive of the principle of revalidation and recognises nurses' responsibility to keep up to date with nursing practice. However, employers must also pull their weight to ensure nurses have access to the training they need.
"Giving nursing staff the training they need will give employers a highly skilled and a motivated workforce, both of which result in better patient care."