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NURSING leaders, NHS bosses and campaigners united today to condemn the government for axing training courses which offer one of the “main pathways” for young people to become nurses.
They warned that the decision would worsen staffing crises in health and social care, with campaigners questioning whether the decision was “a deliberate act or incompetence.”
BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) training in health and social care is one of the main paths for young people, particularly from poorer communities, to join the profession.
The government, however, wants to scrap the course and steer students to T-levels instead, which have higher entry requirements that many current students would not meet.
Keep Our NHS Public co-chairman Dr Tony O’Sullivan said: “This discredited government is pursuing its plan to abolish a route for people from the most deprived communities to take into nursing, health and care careers.
“It is ignoring warning cries from NHS professional leaders and managers. It has had no workforce plan for 12 years.
“Is this a deliberate act or incompetence? Either way the government is undermining the ability of the NHS to get back to safe staffing levels.
“It confirms the government’s intentional neglect of this most vital public service brought to its knees.”
The NHS Confederation, representing health authorities, NHS trusts and commissioning bodies, said the “short-sighted” cut would block young people from “the most deprived areas in our communities” from becoming nurses.
Deputy chief executive Danny Mortimer said: “With over 105,000 vacancies in the NHS and 150,000 in social care, the sector can simply not afford to be losing the workforce of the future because of a lack of suitable training pathways.”
He described the plan as “reckless and ill-advised.”
Royal College of Nursing general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen said: “In England, removing one of the main pathways by scrapping BTECs in health and social care risks compounding falling application numbers.”
He said the government should increase student nurses’ maintenance grants, remove the spectre of student debt and pay fair wages
Around 30,000 students are studying for health and social care-related BTEC qualifications in England.
The Department for Education said: “We will continue to fund BTECs and other qualifications in future where there is a clear need for them.”
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