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Nurse education cuts risk from government plans

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Government plans to put NHS trusts in charge of nurse education and training decisions carry a high risk of prompting training cuts, the Royal College of Nursing has warned.

This and other concerns are set out in the RCN’s response to a Department of Health consultation on proposals to change the way NHS education and training is delivered.

The DH proposals include establishing “skills networks” in which NHS organisations will pool funds and make joint decisions over local education and training needs.

The college’s response says: “The RCN has some concerns about employers being solely responsible for decisions on ongoing workforce education and training. Experience has shown, time and again, where there is pressure on finances, that training is the first budget to be cut.”

The RCN also highlights concerns that new national bodies being set up will focus on the training needs of doctors.

The Centre for Workforce Intelligence, which provides data to help education commissioning decisions, appeared “to be focused on medical practitioners”, the college said.

As revealed in Nursing Times, an organisation called Health Education England will be created out of the existing doctors’ body, Medical Education England, to oversee all health professionals (see ‘Nurse education may lose out to doctors in shake-up’).

Overall, the RCN said it supported the government’s aspiration to have “people with the right skills in the right place at the right time” but warned there was no clear vision on how this would be achieved.

It called for the proposals to be slowed down as far as possible to give time for them to be piloted and evaluated.

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