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40% of postgraduate practice nurse training places remain unfilled

Education bosses are forecasting a 40% shortfall in the number of postgraduate GP practice nurse training places they will fill this year.

A report to the Health Education England (HEE) board found that 214 of the 359 practice nurse postgraduate  roles for the 2015/16 year remained unfilled as of October. 

It also warns of under recruitment to health visitor posts, with 282 vacancies expected against the 1,193 to be commissioned in 2015/16.

However, HEE said that it is confident of filling the roles.

There is no requirement for practice nurses to have postgraduate qualifications.

However, NHS has pinned its hopes on greater use of nurses and other health professionals in general practice  to help solve the GP workforce crisis.

In his ‘new deal for general practice’ this summer, Jeremy Hunt pledged that 5,000 additional health professionals would be recruited to support general practice by 2020.

But the projections in the HEE performance report reflect that plans to convince more recruits into GP nursing may need to be revised.

The report states: ‘The largest areas of variance relate to practice nursing and health visiting. HEE has committed to commission training for 359 practice nurses. As at October 2015, HEE is forecasting a -40% (145) variance against plan.’

On health visitors the report states: ‘The Workforce Plan for England indicates 1,193 health visitors will be commissioned during 2015/16. Currently HEE is forecasting a -24% (282) variance against plan.’

A Health Education England spokesperson said: ’The performance report gives a snap shot at an early stage and we are confident we will see an increase in the numbers. We are on course to exceed last year’s recruitment levels.’

Marilyn Eveleigh, an independent nurse consultant, said: ’Most practice nurses do not have a specialist qualification on the Nursing Medical Council register. There are 22,000 nurses working as a practice nurse. There is no data on how many have the specialist practice nurse qualification.’

The news comes as the Government’s Spending Review, announced last month, pulled the plug on bursaries for nurse training alongside plans to remove a cap on training numbers.

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