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UCU health educator update: March 2012

31 March 2012

An update on the issues affecting UCU's health educator members.

1. Health and Social Care Bill

The Bill has cleared both houses of parliament, officially coming into force after its return to the Commons for Royal Assent sometime before Easter.

The legislation abolishes the English Strategic Health Authorities (SHA) and Primary Care Trusts and, in relation to education, will establish

  • Health Education England (HEE)- a new special health authority charged with national oversight
  • Local education and training boards (LETBs) - the vehicle for articulating local employer priorities for education and training

The strategic health authorities, who will remain in place as statutory bodies until April 2013, have been actively working to develop transitional LETBs for their areas.

In preparation, some SHAs have merged since October 2011 to create new single management frameworks for their areas ie. the respective SHAs for the North West, North East, and Yorkshire and Humberside have merged to become the North of England SHA; and East Midlands, West Midland and East of England SHAs to become Midlands and East SHA. We expect the new LETBs will reflect the regional geography of the SHAs.

We now need to be working to gather information and evidence on the impact these changes are having on health educators and universities, as well as the private companies who are looking to profit from the education and training of the NHS workforce.

2. Health education training commissions

We continue to work on getting a better picture of the cuts in training commissions across the UK, ie:

  • Midlands and East SHA anticipates reducing education commissions across a range of allied health professional groups in the East Midlands area.
  • North of England SHA's education commissioning intentions, from 2011/12 onwards, plan a return to 2009/10 commissioning levels for physiotherapists (15 % lower than in recent years); and a reduction of up to 19% in adult /mental health/learning disability nursing in the Yorkshire and Humberside area. There is also to be a continuation of reductions nursing and midwifery places into 2012/13, in the North East area, resulting in a drop in the student population from 3,200 to circa 2,400 from 2015/16 onwards.
  • South West SHA intends to achieve 15% and 4% reductions in learning disability and mental health nursing respectively. The planned reductions in commissions equate to a 13 reduction across all programmes.
  • Wales UCU is pressing the Welsh government for details of the consultation on its Review of Non Medical Healthcare Education Provision. UCU Wales is due to meet with Royal College for Nursing (RCN) Wales next week to discuss the review.
  • Scotland In February the Scottish Funding Council announced a further reduction in nursing and midwifery pre-registration training places next year (2012/13). The target of 2,410 represents a cut of 270 places from the present level (2,680), and follows a cut of 355 places in 2010/11 (3,037).

3. Qualified to non-qualified staff ratios

The RCN has published a report on older people's nursing, setting out the threshold of staffing levels below which care becomes compromised on older people's wards, and making the case for an more acceptable and appropriate mix of qualified nursing staff to non- qualified staff.

4. UCU Website

We are planning improvements to the health educator pages on the website, to include:

  • Dedicated area for the Health Educators' Advisory Group, its aims and objectives; membership and minutes of meetings
  • Links through to the membership area and joint membership information

We would welcome any other ideas for improvements from health educators.

For further information about UCU's work with health educators please contact Jenny Lennox.

Last updated: 15 June 2022