Healthcare workers belonging to a major union are to lobby employers and the government for access to “vital” continuing professional development training, following funding cuts of around 60% in the past two years in England.
Unison members, who met this week at the union’s annual health conference, agreed to the campaign after raising concerns about the reduction in funding provided by government arms-length body Health Education England.
In the past two years, HEE has cut its workforce development funding – largely used for CPD for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals – from £205m in 2015, to £83.49m in 2017. In the past few weeks, the national body agreed to freeze this part of its budget for 2018-19.
Healthcare staff at the Unison conference, which took place in Brighton on Tuesday, said it was “crucial” for NHS healthcare professionals to have access to training to keep up-to-date in their jobs.
It was also important for staff to have opportunities to train in new roles, such as advanced nurse practitioners, which were increasingly being used to help deal with GP shortages, added the Unison members.
A recent investigation into nursing shortages by the House of Commons’ health select committee found CPD cuts were contributing to nurses leaving the profession, they said.
- CPD cuts ‘will lead to fewer advanced nurses’, MPs warned
- Further warnings given over ‘nonsense’ cuts to nurse CPD
- HSC: CPD cuts must be reversed to stop nurses from leaving jobs
“Continuing professional development is fundamental for a healthcare workforce that’s capable of delivering, evaluating and approving high quality and safe care for patients and other service users,” said one conference speaker.
The health and social care workforce was a “changing, challenging and complex environment”, she said. “Therefore the development of new knowledge and skills is crucial,” she added.
“Continuing professional development is fundamental for a healthcare workforce that’s capable of delivering… safe care”
However, she warned that funding cuts were not the only problem, noting staff needed time to train and build new skills.
“Dedicated time to learning needs to be provided so healthcare staff have time to learn and consolidate new skills,” she said.
Unison members voted unanimously to carry a motion calling for Unison to lobby employers and the government for “adequate central resource to fund lifelong learning for all staff”.
They also agreed to lobby for the development of a “transparent process” to ensure fair access to training money.
More news from the Unison annual health conference: