Universities and NHS trusts are being offered tens of thousands of pounds by Health Education England in a push to expand training places for nurses and other health professionals this year.
HEE has said it will immediately make available funding for 1,500 extra clinical placements – almost a 5% increase – after the Department of Health announced a £16.4m funding boost last week.
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It described the extra funding as a “solution to pragmatically allocate these additional clinical placements quickly, fairly and transparently to support higher education institutions in offering additional places for entry”.
In a letter sent yesterday to universities, HEE said it was making the money available now for universities to offer extra places through the clearing process, which starts in England today, for courses that start next month or in early 2018.
Funding for 2,500 additional clinical placements will be made available in 2018-19 by the government arm’s-length body.
HEE said funding for placements would be attached to the students for the duration of their courses but that universities would need to apply again next year for money to fund new students.
“HEE can confirm that funding will be made available for up to 1,500 additional clinical placements in England”
Universities had the option to decline the offer of extra placements this year with any declined allocations being reallocated to courses starting next month and specifically targeted at professions listed on the Home Office “shortage occupation list”, which includes nursing and paramedics.
The letter, dated 16 August, stated: “HEE can confirm that funding will be made available for up to 1,500 additional clinical placements in England. This funding is for additional places higher education institutions (HEIs) may be able to offer during the clearing process, for students’ immediate entry onto courses commencing from 1 August 2017 onwards, and further additional intakes in early 2018.
“All HEIs running clinical undergraduate pre-registration courses which previously attracted bursary funding and which have demonstrated compliance with HEE’s quality framework are eligible to have a 4.6% uplift in the number of HEE funded clinical placements associated with those courses,” it said.
“These funded clinical placements may be associated with any nursing, midwifery or allied health professional pre-registration undergraduate course the HEI is running – subject to suitable placements being available,” it added.
However, universities will need to reach agreements with local trusts to provide the clinical placements for any extra students. Trusts will also need to be able to provide appropriate mentoring and training for students.
“[We] have sought to design a solution to pragmatically allocate these additional clinical placements quickly, fairly, and transparently”
HEE said itself and the government had taken the decision to release the extra placement funding, following consultation with the Council of Deans for Health and Universities UK.
A spokesman for the Council of Deans told Health Service Journal that it welcomed the funding and clarity over the new placements.
But he warned that the take-up by universities at such short notice was likely to be variable across the country. He added that the ability and capacity of the NHS to take on 10,000 extra trainees needed to be explored in detail.
The average cost of a funding placement is £1,500 meaning this year’s funding is equivalent to £2.25m.
Earlier this month, the Department of Health confirmed it would make an extra £16.4m available to HEE so that it could meet the government’s target of 10,000 extra nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals by 2020.
It followed the government’s announcement in 2015 to scrap the NHS bursary in favour of a student loan system, to remove what it called an “artificial cap” on places.