The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned that cuts to the nursing course for learning disabilities at Bangor University will have a ‘devastating effect’ on students and patient care in the north of the country of Wales.
Bangor University has decided to cut staffing for the Learning Disability Nursing Training course by half, meaning the current two-and-a-half staff will be reduced to two full-time equivalent positions. He said the move was a response to not recruiting “enough students to meet its goals” and the current “difficult financial landscape” facing the UK higher education sector.
A spokesperson for the university said: “In response to the difficult financial landscape facing the UK higher education sector, we have entered into a consultation period with staff and students regarding a number of options that will allow the university to meet its financial goals. “
He added: âUnfortunately, learning disability nursing has not recruited enough students to meet their goals over the past few years, and the university has decided to reduce the staffing level by a. half-post, from the current 2.5 to two full-time equivalents. “
Prior to the decision, Bangor University held a consultation on the proposed change, which it said would allow the institution to maintain the agreed staff-to-student ratio of 1:17 in all nursing courses.
RCN Wales has now denounced the decision to go ahead with the cuts and expressed concerns about the future of the course.
Helen Whyley, Director of RCN Wales, said: âWe are bitterly disappointed that the university has decided to make these reductions in the learning disability teaching team.
“How can Bangor University encourage disabled nursing students to apply for university places without enough learning disability nursing professors providing the appropriate level of academic support? “she said.
Ms Whyley added: ‘This reduction in teaching staff is also particularly unnecessary, as the Welsh government has made the quality of life for people with learning disabilities a priority and increased the number of places in students pre-registered for learning disabled nursing care.
She warned that it takes “a considerable amount of time” to develop a lecturer capable of training nursing students and undertaking world-class research.
âBangor University has an excellent learning disability team and reducing this team will only have negative consequences for nurses with learning disabilities,â she said. “It will also affect communities in North Wales, which will suffer for many years to come.”
Ms. Whyley also noted the prospect of âdowngradingâ the remaining staff on the team. She said: “This will only dequalify, demotivate and deprive the learning disability services within Bangor University of learning rights.”
“It also sends a message of downgrading academic staff with learning difficulties within the university’s educational institution,” she added.
The university’s decision contrasts with the recent announcement by the Welsh government that it will provide additional funding of Â£ 2million to improve NHS services in Wales for people with learning disabilities.
A Nursing Times report earlier this month also pointed out that a series of new learning disability nursing programs were being launched across England in a bid to tackle the state of ‘crisis’ nursing shortages in the area.
Lucy Spencer, a learning disability nursing student in Bangor, started a petition against the cuts that was signed by nearly 900 people. She said: âI am devastated to hear that the cuts are continuing. At a time when the Welsh government is investing so much in nursing for learning disabilities, the cuts just don’t make sense.
âThe future of nursing for learning disabilities in North Wales is of great concern. An email was also sent asking students and stakeholders to co-design a way forward.
âThere were almost 900 signatures on the recent petition and many letters against the proposals. I don’t think the university took that answer into consideration. I hope Bangor University will reconsider the impact these cuts will have. “