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Urgent protection needed for health education as MPs fear 'raids' on training budgets

23 May 2012

UCU today called on the government to urgently protect healthcare education funding after MPs warned that delays in introducing new NHS education and training arrangements could see Strategic Healthcare Authorities (SHAs) 'raid' training budgets for other purposes.

Responding to a report by the health select committee, which criticises the lack of progress made by ministers, the union said there was already evidence of widespread education cuts by SHAs across England:

  • from next autumn, NHS London will cut more than 400 adult nursing places and 185 mental health nursing places at universities
  • NHS North of England plans to axe 353 adult nursing places over the next three years in the north west area
  • NHS South West and NHS South East Coast plan to reduce adult nursing provision by over 5% from next year.

The union said the current process of re-tendering education contracts every three years was increasing uncertainty within the sector. UCU pointed to the example of the University of West London who was stripped of its nursing education contract by NHS London in January after years of providing training.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The uncertainty about future funding has been incredibly destabilising for health education provision and already there is evidence of SHAs making huge cuts to training places and budgets, driving a boom and bust approach to workforce planning.

'The government must act urgently to protect education funding or there will be huge consequences for patient care and the future of the NHS workforce. A good first move would be to end the current process of re-tendering contracts, which stops institutions from planning in the long-term.'

Last updated: 11 December 2015