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HEE chief looks to rebalance funds to ensure nurses' continuing professional development

More funding for nurses' continuing professional development will be found, according to the chief of England's national workforce body

More funding for nurses' continuing professional development (CPD) will be found, according to the chief of England's national workforce body

  • In 2012 England lost 7.1% of nurses from the NHS workforce, for reasons other than retirement
  • In 2017 England lost 8.7% of nurses from the NHS workforce

Approximately £110 million was shed from the Health Education England (HEE) CPD budget between 2013 and 2017, through cuts which attracted criticism from workforce experts.


Health Education England chief executive Ian Cumming. Picture: Parliament TV

HEE chief executive Ian Cumming told the Health Select Committee more money would be found for CPD in the future, as he gave evidence as part of a parliamentary inquiry into planning the nursing workforce on 28 November.

Rebalancing the books

Professor Cumming explained HEE was looking to ‘rebalance’ its budget to address CPD funding, which he said had fallen from £190 million in 2013-2014 to £80 million in 2017.

He said: ‘We believe that giving people access to education and training opportunities is something that helps motivate them, helps morale, and helps keep people in jobs.

‘I would love to be spending more money on CPD than we are doing at the moment, and it is our intention to use a greater percentage of our budget in that way in the future.’

He added that the reason CPD funding went down was because of 'deliberate decisions' made when HEE came into being.

'Clear priority'

Professor Cumming said: ‘We were clearly told the priority was to grow the number of undergraduate nurses we were training.'

The result was a diversion to CPD funding, which he said resulted in a rise in undergraduate training places from 17,000 in 2012 to 20,000 in 2016.

Conservative MP for Erewash Maggie Throup asked if he thought problems retaining nurses was linked to the cuts in CPD funding.

Professor Cumming told MPs the nursing vacancy rate would be at around half its current 35,000 total, had England been able to maintain its retention rate just five years ago.

‘We have seen a deterioration over the past five years,' he said.

In 2012 England lost 7.1% of nurses from the NHS workforce – for reasons other than retirement – and in 2017 the figure stands at 8.7%, he added.

‘We are losing an extra 1.6% of our workforce on an annual basis – that does not sound a big figure, but it’s actually 5,000 more nurses left in 2017 than in 2012.

'If we had kept the 2012 retention figure we’d have 16,000 more nurses than we do at the moment.

‘That is approximately 50% of the vacancies we’ve currently got in the NHS.’

Focus group voice concerns

Ms Throup told Professor Cumming that nurses at a focus group meeting had brought up concerns over CPD funding with her.

She said: '‘They were concerned about the lack of CPD they were able to access (and said) it was causing problems with retention.

‘That was probably more of a concern to them than their actual pay.'


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