A second year of growth in nurse education places has been rubber-stamped by Health Education England’s board today, as it unveils its national workforce plan for England.
But the increases across all four branches of nurse training is smaller than last year and will result only in an extra 827 qualified nurses a year, a rise of just 4%.
“It is quite clear we are going to need more nurses in the community sector, but nurses are gravitating to the acute sector because of the post-Francis effect”
However, it makes dramatic increases in specialist nursing roles based in the community with a 64% increase in GP practice nursing, a 72% increase in school nursing and a 16% rise in district nurse training numbers.
The community increases signal that HEE is shifting the focus of education towards the new models of care set out in NHS England’s new five-year plan – Five Year Forward View – and follow public acknowledgement by NHS leaders that staff in non-hospital settings are currently under significant pressure.
Speaking at the chief nursing officer for England’s summit in November, health secretary Jeremy Hunt told senior nurses that a “big push” was needed in community staffing numbers.
Last year HEE increased adult nurse training places by 9%, with a 6% increase across all four nurse branches.
The board of HEE approved the workforce plan today at its latest board meeting. It sets out how HEE will spend its £5bn education and training budget.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Jo Lenaghan, HEE’s director of strategy and workforce planning, said: “We did have huge growth last year and it is important to remember this year’s increase is cumulative, so over two years adult nursing has increased 13.6%, which is an additional 1,649 nurses.
“Based on the work of our local education and training boards looking at employer forecasts, the supply we have added in last year and the steps trusts have taken as well as our return to practice campaigns, we believe this year’s growth should be sufficient however we are going to be very vigilant and keep it under review,” she said.
She said HEE’s return to practice campaign – Come Back to Nursing – to attract former qualified nurses back to the profession had so far resulted in an extra 789 qualified nurses to work in the system in recent months, with plans to source another 1,000 next year.
Ms Lenaghan added: “Looking at the Five Year Forward View, it is quite clear we are going to need more nurses in the community sector, but nurses are gravitating to the acute sector because of the post-Francis effect.
“Unless we take additional actions as a system to create more jobs in the community and encourage staff to take up those posts, we don’t think we will achieve the models set out in the forward view,” she warned.
Increases to the four nurse branches are:
- Adult nursing up 4.2% – 555 places
- Children’s nurses up 7.4% – 161 places
- Mental health nursing up 3.2% – 100 places
- Learning disability nurses up just 1.7% – 11 places