‘We did put restrictions on the amount of money that we are spending on training and education,’ he told the Commons public accounts committee last week, as part of an investigation into how the NHS achieved a £515m surplus in that financial year.
The government has previously maintained that control of such budgets is down to local decision-making by strategic health authorities.
Mr Nicholson said the cut in spending represented a ‘real reduction’ of 4% from the total Multi-Professional Education and Training budget for that year, equating to £354m in cash terms.
He also told MPs that the cut was part of a total pool of £450m taken by the Department of Health from central budgets, which should have gone straight to SHAs.
Gill Robertson, RCN student adviser, said: ‘We presumed it was the SHAs and it clearly has not been, and for the government to remove money from education and training is appalling.’
As an NT investigation has revealed, more than £100m was also diverted from training budgets the following financial year (NT News, 3 June, p3).Two SHAs are still to announce their year end figures for 2007–2008, so the figure could rise further.
As part of the Time Out For Training campaign, NT has now written to all 10 strategic health authorities to ask them to ringfence their training funds to ensure nurses receive the money they need to receive adequate levels of post-registration training.
Meanwhile, nurses are being encouraged to help bring the campaign to the attention of their MPs by sending them a downloadable letter.