NHS London diverted and underspent almost £39m from its Multi-Professional Education and Training budget – which funds nurse training – in 2007–2008, while NHS West Midlands underspent by a further £22m.
The two strategic health authorities had initially been asked for the figures under Freedom of Information requests placed by NT in May, as part of an investigation into the continued raiding of MPET budgets by strategic health authorities (NT News,
3 June, p3).
Both SHAs declined to provide the information until the figures had been approved by their boards as part of their year-end accounting procedures.
The initial investigation, part of the NT’s successful Time Out For Training Campaign, revealed that a total of more than £103m had been diverted or underspent by the eight other SHAs.
The inclusion of the two new sets of figures shows that England’s 10 SHAs used almost £165m of MPET funding for purposes other than training in 2007–2008.
This is on top of the £500m diverted between the financial years 2005 and 2007.
As part of the NHS Next Stage Review, a working group is considering changing the way in which education
is funded, which could see MPET scrapped (NT News, 8 July, p10).
Dame Betty Kershaw, dean of the school of nursing and midwifery at Sheffield University, said the disclosure of the extra underspend only served to justify the funding review.
‘We need the review and it needs to be thorough,’ said Dame Betty. ‘What we really need is to ringfence training and education money, so that it is invested in all healthcare professionals so they are trained to provide care that is safe and acceptable.’
As a result of NT’s campaign, seven of the 10 SHAs, including NHS London and NHS West Midlands, have committed to spending their entire staff training budget on training this year.