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'Battle' for post-registration training funding must be won for new education standards to succeed

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New education standards that are being developed to raise the level of nursing practice will not succeed unless funding for ongoing training of the existing workforce is regained, a senior nurse who is leading the work has warned.

Under the “radical” plans being drawn up by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, student nurses of the future could be trained in more than 70 technical skills and be able to prescribe from a limited formulary upon graduating.

For nurses to supervise future students, as well as more junior colleagues who had been trained to a higher level, it will be vital for them to maintain and develop their own clinical skills, said Professor Dame Jill Macleod Clark, who is an advisor to the NMC on revising the education standards.

But, in a presentation to senior nurses this week, she highlighted that there was an ongoing “battle” to protect national funding for post-registration training.

The introduction of the NMC’s new education standards should be used to argue for more investment from the government, she said.

Last year, the arms-length body Health Education England reduced its budget for workforce development – used for continuing professional development for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals – by 50%, from £205m in 2015-16 to £104.3m in 2016-17. Further reductions are expected this year.

Speaking at the chief nursing officer for England’s summit in Birmingham on Wednesday, Dame Jill said: “As a profession we have to be united….We have to get back some of that post-registration support.

“This is a great lever. I don’t believe we can deliver these standards unless we have some investment in the existing workforce,” she said.

“I don’t believe we can deliver these standards unless we have some investment in the existing workforce”

Jill Macleod Clark

Speaking to Nursing Times afterwards, she said: “In order to bring in the new standards, we will need to upskill the existing workforce. If a nurse is supervising someone [at this higher level]…we need to help them maintain and also develop their clinical skills.”

Speaking during the same conference session, HEE director of nursing Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt noted that the reduction to her organisation’s CPD budget was a significant issue and that it had been prompted by cuts to its overall funding by the government.

However, she said the funding had not always been used for ongoing training and that, in the future, a forthcoming apprenticeship levy on employers could be used to pay for CPD and other training.

“I think we have to stop talking about the reduction of CPD funding as a limitation…Because we haven’t used it really well and some [organisations] haven’t used it at all,” said Professor Bayliss-Pratt.

“When we [HEE] looked at where it had gone, it had gone on the bottom right hand corner of people’s spreadsheets, not on upskilling and reskilling or designing new roles,” she said.

“I think we have to stop talking about the reduction of CPD funding as a limitation…Because we haven’t used it really well”

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt

“We do have the apprenticeship levy, which we’ve go to think differently about. Can you create a training programme and put an apprenticeship framework in place for master’s level study using the levy? The answer is ‘yes you can’, if there is enough desire and goodwill to do it,” she said.

The apprenticeship levy will be applied to all large employers in England with a paybill of more than £3m a year from this April and will provide a new way of funding this form of training.

The governmnet expects this system to double the investment in apprenticeships by 2020 from 2010 levels, to £2.5bn. The NHS is expected to be able to access £200m funding a year and an estimated 28,000 apprenticeship starts in 2017-18.

The NMC standards for nurse education are expected to be published in draft form for consultation in June.

 

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