Informal learning one alternative amid CPD shortfall, chief nurse tells summit

Chief nursing officer acknowledges nurses’ frustration over funding cuts, but says profession should explore other opportunities for development and training

There are ways around the shortfall in continuing professional development (CPD) budgets, England’s chief nurse Jane Cummings told Nursing Standard in an exclusive interview.

Professor Cummings told the summit the profession needs to consider different
opportunities for learning and development, such as shadowing. Picture: iStock

Speaking earlier at the Chief Nursing Officer for England's Summit, Professor Cummings said that she understood the frustration over CPD funding, but other informal routes, such as shadowing, could offer learning benefits.

‘Underinvesting in the nursing profession’

Baroness Mary Watkins of Tavistock told delegates at the conference in Liverpool this week that postregistration nurse training should be funded in the same way as medical training.

The crossbench peer and professor of nursing said: ‘I argue that we are underinvesting in the nursing profession in England at the moment. Where is the CPD money? Where is the opportunity for someone like me as a staff nurse to leave general nursing and go away to learn mental health nursing?

‘I have had the pleasure and challenge of being married to a surgeon for nearly 40 years. All his postqualifying education was paid for. Mine wasn't it. Think about that.’

The King’s College London visiting professor’s comments received cheers and applause, but the feedback was not a surprise to England's chief nursing officer.

Different opportunities for learning

Professor Cummings later told Nursing Standard: ‘You will have felt the strength of feeling in the room about CPD funding, so we do need to look at that and Health Education England (HEE) is looking at that.’

She said CPD cuts are often cited as a source of frustration in feedback from nurses, adding: ‘I’m not trying to tone down the strength of feeling, but there are different ways of doing it.’

She recalled a recent conversation with a band 5 nurse who said a shadow placement had been ‘one of the best things she had ever done’.

‘It had given her a significant amount of education and training. What it hadn’t given her was a master’s,’ Professor Cummings said.

‘I think we need to look flexibly at how people can be developed and look at different opportunities to do that, as well as the more formal educational and development training that we all know – and HEE recognises – is a priority for many people.’

Professor Cummings also said online learning tools and resources such as Nursing Standard offered opportunities to increase knowledge.

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