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The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP has laid out ambitious plans to deliver the largest increase in training “in the history of the NHS”. He made the pledge at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on Monday, announcing 5,000 new training places for nurses, to lift numbers of home-grown staff. His announcement comes after growing concerns surrounding NHS staff shortages and a 19% collapse in applications for nursing courses at Universities in the past year. Mr Hunt’s ‘historic’ pledge would create an unprecedented 25% increase in nurses training.

The Secretary of State for Health also announced plans for NHS staff to utilise new flexible working hours and the right to buy affordable homes developed on surplus NHS land. The Department of Health states that these decisions will “reduce the reliance on expensive agency nurses and overseas recruits”, as Britain prepares to leave the EU.

Theresa May’s speech on Wednesday was light on healthcare, although she did announce a review of the Mental Health Act and a consultation on introducing an optout system for organ donation but fringe events saw senior NHS decision makers and Conservative MPs discuss the incessant challenges of increasing demand and financial pressures. In particular, the Minister of State for Health Philip Dunne expressed the need for a more prevention-focused approach to patient care within the NHS. Dunne also highlighted the importance of the ‘Getting It Right First Time’ (GIRFT) programme in reducing unwarranted variations in the quality of care and sharing best practice across the health service. You can read highlights of our recent members’ meeting with Rachel Yates, Managing Director of the GIRFT programme here.