MP voices concern for CPD cuts in bid to improve staff retention

Department of health and social care to look at recommendations addressing CPD cuts

Department of health and social care to look at recommendations addressing CPD cuts

Stephen Barclay. Picture: Shutterstock

A health minister has admitted being ‘struck by the significance placed on continuing professional development’ by nurses, when speaking with staff in hospitals.

Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care Stephen Barclay made the statement when questioned by the Commons Education Committee yesterday on if cuts to continuing professional development (CPD) budgets had affected trusts’ abilities to deliver training for existing staff alongside nurse apprentices.

'Cuts to CPD budgets have made things very difficult'

Mr Barclay added that the department of health and social care (DH) was looking actively at the health select committee’s recommendations to address cuts to CPD budgets to improve staff retention.

Committee chair Robert Halfon recalled visiting the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, where he was told by a nurse that apprentices must support current roles and not act as a barrier for existing staff to access ‘further development’.

He said staff told him cuts to CPD budgets had made ‘things very difficult’ for them in their commitment to take on nurse apprentices.

Mr Halfon added: ‘If you look at the national figures, CPD was cut from £205 million to £83 million, between 2015-2016 and 2017-2018. Can I ask you to comment on that? Because what the trust want is adequate funding for lifelong learning.’

Answering, Mr Barclay said: ‘What I have been struck by, as you clearly were on your visit, when I sit down with members of staff without management present and hear their feedback, I have been struck by the significance placed on CPD.’

Budget raise question

Mr Halfon later asked if the CPD budget could be raised following an announcement of £20 billion funding for the NHS and asked if this would help grow the number of people taking up nursing degree apprenticeships.

‘The department is very sighted on the health select committee’s report and we are actively considering that,’ Mr Barclay said.

‘What I would say is we need to be mindful on the quality of CPD,’ he added, gaining support from minister for apprenticeships and skills Anne Milton – a former nurse.

‘We need to ensure we get value for money and good quality CPD training.’

Mr Barclay concluded that there was a new health secretary, so it was not for him to pre-empt the new health secretary's assessment.

What else was discussed by the committee?

  • Apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton talked about not allowing the NHS to use the apprenticeship levy to backfill wages.
  • Health Education England chief executive Ian Cummings said he would look at the potential for part time nursing apprenticeship degrees, following a question from Labour MP Emma Hardy.
  • Labour Co-op MP Lucy Powell asked if a pathway could be embedded for early child care staff to become registered health visitors through degree apprenticeships.
  • Health minister Stephen Barclay questioned if whole days needed to be protected as supernumerary for apprentices, when only part of those days may be used for training. But, he said this for the Nursing and Midwifery Council to decide.
  • MPs asked Ms Milton to look into how further education colleges could gain accreditation from the NMC to deliver some or all of the apprenticeship, in partnership with higher education institutions.
  • Mr Barclay said there was a problem with meeting demand for courses. He said Leeds University had recently received 500 applications for 30 spaces on a nursing degree apprenticeship course. He suggested too many people were being turned away.
  • Mr Cummings said 40% of those on nursing associate courses have indicated they plan to go on to a nursing degree.

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