23 May 2012

million+ comment on MPs' report into health education and training

The university think-tank million+ has welcomed today’s report from the House of Commons Health Select Committee which concludes that there is “slender evidence” of Government progress in introducing the new education and training arrangements required as a result of the Coalition’s NHS and Social Care Act. Currently, health education and training for nurses, midwives, radiographers and other allied health professional staff is undertaken by universities in partnership with NHS providers. Universities have called on the Department of Health to clarify the new governance arrangements to avoid the closure of health education courses because of uncertainty about future numbers and funding.

Chaired by Stephen Dorrell MP, the influential Committee of MPs also calls on the Government to safeguard funding for education and training to avoid “the risk that Strategic Health Authorities will raid education and health budgets in 2012-13”.

Commenting on Education, training and workforce planning Pam Tatlow, Chief Executive of million+, said: “This report is a timely reminder that the future education and training of the NHS workforce is still hanging in the wind despite the fact that the new arrangements come into play in April 2013. MPs are 100% correct that the Government has made little progress in clarifying governance arrangements for the LETBs (the local education and training boards) even though they will decide how many nurses and other professional staff to train locally and which providers will train them. It is also still not clear how local decisions will take into account national needs.

“Ministers have refused to ring-fence health education budgets and numbers are already being significantly cut. Against a background of major cost pressures and re-organisation, the Committee’s recommendation that the Department of Health must act to safeguard education funding is very welcome. If the NHS is to have a workforce fit to meet the future healthcare needs of the country, Ministers can no longer afford to ignore the warnings of MPs, heath care staff or universities.”

Notes to editors:

  1. million+ is a leading university think-tank, working to solve the complex problems in higher education www.millionplus.ac.uk. For more information please contact Victoria Mills on 0207 717 1659 or 07900 277819.
  2. The Health Committee First Report of Session 2012-13, Education, training and workforce planning (HC 6-I) will be available from: www.parliament.uk/healthcom. million+ submitted written evidence to the Health Committee’s inquiry and, prior to his appointment as the next Director of Offa, Professor Les Ebdon gave oral evidence to the Committee in his role as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire and Chair of million+.
  3. In addition to their recommendations that the Government must clarify governance arrangements and the working relationships between the LETBs and Health Education England, MPs cast doubt on whether the Centre for Workforce Intelligence will have the capacity to assess future healthcare needs and further recommend that a training and education levy be paid by all NHS providers including those in the private sector on the basis that they also make use of staff whose training is funded by the taxpayer.