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.”