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Universities may close nursing courses, warn academics


Increased local control of nurse education and training could lead to the closure of courses and have adverse effects on workforce planning, academics have warned.

The white paper includes plans to phase out centrally allocated training budgets - the multi-profession education and training levy - with trusts and other providers freed to commission their own professional development locally.

Trusts are concerned with immediacy, and with student nurses you need to plan between three and five years ahead

The white paper says: “It is time to give employers greater autonomy and accountability for planning and developing the workforce, alongside greater professional ownership of the quality of education and training.”

Academics have warned this could result in some trusts opting to take more of their post-registration training in-house rather than commissioning universities. This loss of revenue could have a knock-on effect of making it un-economical for universities to continue offering pre-registration education as well, resulting in the closure of courses.

A senior nursing academic, who asked not to be named, said: “If trusts decide to do in-house continuing professional development it would seriously damage universities’ business. It would jeopardise their pre-registration business because of the staffing issues it would create.”

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He also warned devolving the commissioning of pre-registration training to acute trusts could result in “short-termism” in workforce planning.

He said: “Trusts are concerned with immediacy, and with student nurses you need to plan between three and five years ahead. This gives us some cause for concern.”

Council of Deans chair Sue Bernhauser said the changes must not be allowed to cause “another boom and bust” in education, which could endanger the “sustainability” of the workforce. 

The white paper also left questions over who would decide the structure and content of training in future, a role currently undertaken by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The white paper says “the professions will have a leading role” in deciding the structure and content of training, and quality standards. But it is unclear if “the professions” means groups representing nurses, such as the Royal College of Nursing, instead of or as well as the regulator.

An NMC spokeswoman said: “We will be seeking clarification regarding the education commissioning proposals.”


Readers' comments (29)

  • Natalie Jewell

    Already young people have less interest in nursing than they did in previous decades.

    10 years ago we were warned that health visitors would be retiring in droves as there were so many reaching pensionable age but nothing was done to replace them.

    We're already covering vacant caseloads and working ourselves into the ground.

    The pressures are going to get worse and worse. It's all very well reducing training because of the the deficit but is in house training going to be regulated to safe levels so that competent nurses are qualifying and is the shortfall ever going to be made up?

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  • Not just that Natalie, but is in house training even assured? You know yourself how difficult it is to get ANY training out of the NHS ward managers!

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  • My advice is if you want to do any courses to enhance your knowledge or skills is to privately fund it. If you depend on the NHS it just wouldn't happen.

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  • Perhaps we should dig into the archives and find the old School of Nursing curricula. It will take time to recreate the hospital based training but would it be all bad?
    Let's not dismiss this out of hand but take the opportunity to look at the good from all areas and put together a training and career structure that encourages the right people into the profession.
    Let's get rid of the need for literacy and numeracy courses as part of nursing education - they should be pre-requisite to acceptance!

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  • Anonymous | 20-Jul-2010 12:58 pm I absolutely disagree with that. Why should I privately fund my CPD?

    Whilst CPD is MANDATORY for Nurses, and whilst our enhanced knowledge and skill benefits the wards and our patients far more than it does ourselves (in terms of better pay/job prospects), then the NHS SHOULD bloody provide it!

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  • HELLO everyone....! If the NHS doesn't provide free mandatory training then go elsewhere! Actions speak louder than words, and if management continue to make fatal mistakes, loose great staff etc, then they will inundated with public complaints, they will be out of a job and they will have to CHANGE...

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  • In my opinion different NHS Trusts do not represent the same quality, in other words those who cannot provode us with a quality, well planned and free of charge CPD don't deserve our attantion as a potential place of work. And yes, it requires from us to be mobile and flexible. Instead of getting position at the nearest Trust we should take a time and efford to fish the best one. It is difficult AND possible.

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  • I've paid for all my cpd that wasn't mandatory training. I'm not going to held to ransom by a manager for going on a bill and ben PBN (paint by numbers) course every 5 years. I never apply for a job that requires ENB 666 or whatever since the ENB went out of existence over 10 years ago.

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  • Far better to spend the money on staff sickness, writing yet another reactive SOP in the most risk averse organization yet conceived and compensation claims from injured or insulted patients than spend a penny on education or professional development. COZ YOUR WORTH IT, INNIT.

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  • What workforce planning? If it does happen its being done by 1000 chimps locked in a cage tapping away on excel. With an odd banana shaped formula being applied to the cells.

    Fact is undergraduate nurse training is mostly a waste of time and money for everyone involved. The turn over of nurses, the number leaving the profession after 5 years is enormous. Universities have a vested interest in training as many nurses as possible - they get more money, and employers have a steady stream of wide eyed neophytes ready to join the ranks of the burnt out twice a year. We wouldn't need to train as many if we could actually keep a few more interested in sticking around for ten or twenty years.

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