The body being handed £5bn of training funding may lack the “authority” to ensure the money is protected, the Royal College of Nursing has warned.
The union’s fears about planned changes to NHS education structures are set out in a report submitted to the NHS Future Forum.
The forum is following the report it published in June with a second set of recommendations to the government focusing on four areas, including education and training.
Under government plans, instead of strategic health authorities paying for training, groups of trusts will form local education and training boards (LETBs) to pool education funds and decide how they are spent.
Health Education England will distribute around £5bn of training money to the LETBs and hold them to account for how they spent it.
But the RCN’s submission to the Future Forum says “it is not clear whether HEE will have the authority” to hold LETBs to account.
The government has said it wants to “protect” training funds but this may fall short of introducing ringfenced budgets.
HEE’s newly appointed senior responsible officer Chris Outram – who formerly led MEE – told Nursing Times she will make it “absolutely clear” to trusts that the funds must not be raided.
HEE will hold LETBs to account through an outcomes framework being developed.
However, HEE would not have the power to simply withhold money from large networks that were not complying with the rules, Ms Outram added.
The RCN is also worried that “HEE as currently conceived is likely to be dominated by medical deaneries”. The body was formed out of three advisory bodies, the largest being Medical Education England (MEE).
Nursing Times understands this concern was raised at a consultation event last week with Future Forum member Julie Moore, chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust.
But Ms Outram said: “We’re really not taking MEE and just adding a few other people. The nursing profession is large and very important.”