Creating a sustainable future workforce OnlyWan response to the Department of Health’s consultation on Reforming healthcare education funding

13 July 2016

This document contains the OnlyWan’s response to the Department of Health’s consultation on changes to student funding for nursing, midwifery and allied health professions.

The consultation proposed that from 1 August 2017, all new nursing, midwifery and allied health professional students on pre-registration undergraduate and post-graduate courses will receive their tuition funding and financial support through the standard student support system, rather than NHS bursaries and tuition funded by Health Education England.  These changes will be used to create 10,000 additional training places by the end of the parliament, in an effort to address workforce shortages in the English NHS.

In our submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review in September 2015, we argued that the undersupply of nurses has very significant consequences for NHS finances and efficiency. We made clear that the NHS needed to expand training places but recognised that in a time of austerity training could not be immune to the requirement to become more efficient and reduce costs. We suggested that one way to do so might be to look again at the financial support offered to nurses, midwives and allied health professionals in training, to bring this closer into line with the position for other degree courses, and use any savings to expand training places to meet future demands.

The government in November announced as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review its plans to reform the student funding for nursing, midwifery and allied health professions and its consultation closed on 30 June 2016.

Our response states:  

'The available evidence suggests that reforming student finance for nursing is likely to be effective at expanding the number of nursing students. However, it will be important to ensure that support is available to protect the diversity of nursing graduates. This will need specific measures with the finance package but also potential reforms to the training system for nurses wishing to enter training either as a second degree or from other health care roles. But most of all the NHS needs more qualified nurses and it needs them quickly. Reforming the financing system will only increase supply if close attention is paid to the arrangements for funding placements so that sufficient numbers of innovative and high quality placements are available to meet the demand from trainees.'

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