Training budgets must be ringfenced until this overhaul takes place, said delegates attending a meeting last week of the University and College Union, the trade union and professional association for academics, lecturers and trainers in further and higher education in the UK.
The meeting, attended by almost 100 healthcare lecturers and education stakeholders, was held to discuss the findings of a report commissioned by the union, which looked at influences on the future of healthcare education, including the impact of training budget raiding by SHAs.
Budget raiding – almost £600m has been diverted from multi-professional education and training budgets over the past three years – is having a ‘cumulative and damaging effect on the UK’s ability to train the next generation of key NHS health professionals’, the report warns.
It also looks at the current system of workforce planning, health inequalities, technology improvements, government reform and EU initiatives.
The report recommends higher education involvement in workforce planning and a move to transfer training budgets to the control of higher education institutes.
Michael MacNeil, UCU assistant general secretary, said: ‘I was concerned people kept saying budgets were being raided. But I was aware there was a lot more going on that would, in the long term, affect the quality of healthcare education and wanted to look at the whole picture.’
Delegates had told him that education funding needed urgently reviewing, he said. ‘They also agreed there needs to be a more sophisticated approach to workforce planning and a drive towards inter-professional working in this area,’ Mr MacNeil added.
An action plan will now be drawn up, as a result of the meeting and report, which will be used to lobby the government for change.