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Exclusive: Further rise in nurse training course places approved


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”

Jo Lenaghan

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.

Health Education England

Jo Lenaghan

“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

Readers' comments (4)

  • With so much of the health service provided by for profit private providers I'm not sure if the tax payer should be training their nurses.

    If the tax payer pays for it perhaps nurses should work in the NHS for a period of time, say 3 years. Or the tax payer compensated in some way when a newly qualified nurse starts employment in the private sector - eg the cost of the training is paid by the employer to the exchequer.

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  • Perhaps the previous poster is unaware that the private sector has been used for student nurse placements for many years, both in private hospitals and nursing homes that have been approved and accredited by the relevant universities seeking that experience for their students. Nursing staff within these establishments were also given mentor training to enable these placements to be educational and enabling for students. The placements and students and the relevant mentors were visited by the university lecturers/tutors.thus I think that the two sides of this balance out.
    I do wonder whether the HEE have got their figures right and taken into account the large percentage of registered nurses retiring in the next few years and the high attrition rates of students dropping out/not registering or not entering the NHS.
    All Trusts seem to be madly recruiting overseas, I hope that the figures of overseas nurses employed here has also been taken into account.
    There do not seem to be many numbers of Mental Health nurses in the HEE figures either and yet there is an increasing demand for mental health services.
    Do these people at HEE responsible for the number crunching of student places ever have any realistic dialogue with those at the coal face struggling to recruit?

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  • It's all well and good increasing the amount of places for training. But nurses once qualified get poor support and very few are given time for supervision/perceptorship.

    Research shows that the better the perceptorship the more likely the newly qualified is to remain in that role.

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  • Could Return To Practice Courses be more flexible. This training appears to be more geared towards secondary care rather than primary care.

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