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Nursing courses put at risk by funding fall, warn universities

Universities say nursing education has reached a “tipping point”, with proposed funding cuts putting the quality of courses and ultimately the quality of nursing care at risk.

Some universities may even pull out of offering nursing and midwifery courses altogether, according to a briefing paper from the Council of Deans of Health and Universities UK, who are representing universities in talks on funding with Health Education England.

Ongoing negotiations between the two sides are focused on the amount of cash to accompany each place on nursing, midwifery and allied health profession courses from 2014-15.

“The proposed funding cuts for 2014-15 put education for nurses at a tipping point”

COD/Universities UK report

The report suggests universities would be left with a 12-16% funding shortfall if cuts proposed by HEE are implemented. Universities are already struggling with a funding gap of 7.6-11.5% for providing pre-registration courses, the report warned.

It stated: “Any cuts that further widen the gap risk not only a significant negative impact on the quality of education but could also result in some universities withdrawing from pre-registration provision altogether.”

The report shows universities currently get £8,315 for each diploma and degree place – with those in London getting slightly more – via a nationally agreed price called the benchmark price. HEE has proposed the BMP for nursing courses should fall to £8,165 in 2014-15.

The funding is supposed to cover all costs of proving a course, but a 2007 government-backed review found the BMP had already fallen “significantly behind” increases in course costs.

The report said the funding gap could widen to at least 12%, but warned this was likely to be a conservative estimate because of the need to invest in new technology, like simulation suites.

“We believe the proposed funding cuts for 2014-15 put education for nurses, midwives and AHPs at a tipping point,” the report stated. “Undermining the quality of health higher education and potentially destabilising its provision is a risk that we simply should not be prepared to take.”

An HEE spokeswoman told Nursing Times:  “We are seeking to ensure that we get the best possible value for taxpayers’ money.”

“These negotiations are still underway and we will continue to talk to the Council of Deans of Health and Universities UK,” she said.

Sources close to the negotiations told Nursing Times that HEE had argued an increase in the overall number of students would compensate for reducing the amount of money per student.

Readers' comments (11)

  • Another piece of HEE nonsence. Increase numbers? How do they expect students to have clinical placements in a shrinking NHS? There arn't enough clinical placements for current numbers.

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  • shrinking NHS? increasing numbers of patients with more complex needs, not enough clinical placemnts?

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  • tinkerbell

    the shrinking nhs, the expanding private sector, the domino effect.

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  • If the NHS want high quality care then the Universities need to provide high quality education and both of these don't come cheap. Could this be another push for dumbing down the qualification of a Nursing degree to an apprenticeship course run by the University of the NHS.

    Am I the only one that remembers this form of education leading to a state registration that meant nothing educationally!

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 18-Mar-2014 11:06 am

    You are not alone. Yesterday at work my colleagues were discussing some article on the old 'asylums'. I told them of the abuses I had seen within these and how when I reported concerns they were ignored and I was once told to 'shut my mouth and get on with my job' as a student pointing out a patient being physically abused by the cleaner. How elderly folk were a bit of sport and hosed down rather than given proper care. How I was the escorting nurse for a psychotic female giving birth handcuffed to the delivery bed because she was too unwell to understand what was happening to her. How a patient with motor neuron illness was all but bedded down in hay in his bedroom. It's unbelievable probably to some that these things occurred but I witnessed them and when I reported same no action was ever taken.

    You could be put away for having a 'child out of wedlock' never to re-enter society.

    I asked my colleagues if any of them had worked in the 'bins' as they were called back then, They said no, were gobsmacked thing like this happened. I said I felt like a dinosaur at this point.

    It was certainly an education in mans inhumanity to man.

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  • seems to be the darker side of human nature which will never change!

    as for a nurse working with their mouth shut, I have never tried it but imagine it is well nigh impossible and considering the importance of communications that is always so strongly emphasised. perhaps we could learn a few lessons from some exclusive religious orders instead of the academic institutions in which we have been trained! :-o

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  • The funding cuts and increase in student numbers may well have a detrimental affect on the learning experience. To address it we have to adopt new methods - some of which we need to do anyway - such as increasing use of web 2.0 technology for example 'webinar' presentations and discussions. Simulations are expensive and time consuming and allied to pressures on mentors, we have an overall picture of stress on the system. This will increase the call to take education back into the NHS, to see students as part of the workforce and not supernumerary, and the adoption of training rather than education. The wider context is the increasing control of nursing for managerial reasons within the contested economic policy of austerity. The country largely believes there is no money for education, health or welfare. In addition the policy is one of creating a market for those public goods based on the idea of a 'consumer' exercising rational choices. That is why the student pays fees so that through a market mechanism they will drive up quality by only buying education from quality providers. That is the theory. There is money - its just that it is in the hands of the few that gov't dare not touch.

    In a report, a Tale of Two Britains, Oxfam said the poorest 20% in the UK had wealth totalling £28.1bn – an average of £2,230 each. The latest rich list from Forbes magazine showed that the five top UK entries – the family of the Duke of Westminster, David and Simon Reuben, the Hinduja brothers, the Cadogan family, and Sports Direct retail boss Mike Ashley – between them had property, savings and other assets worth £28.2bn.

    The UK study follows an Oxfam report earlier this year which found that the wealth of 85 global billionaires is equivalent to that of half the world’s population – or 3.5 billion people. The pope and Barack Obama have made tackling inequality a top priority for 2014, while the International Monetary Fund has warned that the growing divide between the haves and have-nots is leading to slower global growth.

    This is the real issue - inequality politics resulting in an impoverished public sector. JK Galbraith way back in 1958 argued that a feature of advanced capitalism was that public (sector) squalor went alongside private affluence. Quite.

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  • michael stone

    'It's unbelievable probably to some that these things occurred but I witnessed them and when I reported same no action was ever taken.'

    The behaviour was awful, Tink - as was the 'no action was taken'.

    Until everyone is able to see what a [usually] minority of people are doing, this type of bad behaviour/experience can continue largely unchallenged, sadly.

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  • tinkerbell

    michael stone | 18-Mar-2014 2:42 pm

    I had always hoped we were moving forwards but it is seems the current agenda is to send nursing back to darker times. All very sad.

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  • Educating nurses is very important for the health of this nation.
    Getting nurses from the pathway of HCA, is fine but university education is important also for the benifit of nursing.
    Are there plans to have two or more different types of training? Is that so with other professions? Why is it nursing has to be so disjointed?
    When will this be sorted?
    I am so fed up with all the changes all the time to nurse education.

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  • michael stone

    The RCGP was pushing ' GPs are at breaking point - we need a lot more GPs'. So that is 'spend more money on GPs'; we've already got 'A&E collapsing' (= presumably 'spend more on A&E); nurse traing crisis, equals 'spend more money on training nurses'.

    It is quite difficult to separate the 'everyone is currently fighting hard for a share of a shrinking cake' from 'we REALLY NEED TO spend more on 'this bit''.

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