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£18.5m cash injection to close district nurse funding gap announced by HEE

The specialist practitioner qualification (SPQ) needed to become a district nurse will run for at least another year thanks to an £18.5 million investment announced today (1 November) by Health Education England (HEE).  

The cash injection, which will also help fund the transition to the district nursing apprenticeship in 2020/21 alongside supporting community nurses who wish to undertake the district nursing SPQ, closes a funding gap that would have seen no new district nurses in 2021.  

Previously, HEE funding for the one-year postgraduate course was due to finish in 2019-20 – but as the new part-time apprenticeship model is set to begin in 2020-21 and the course takes two years to complete, district nurses on the apprenticeship route would only qualify in 2022. 

The SPQ funding will be reviewed in 2020/21 'to ensure that apprentice uptake meets the needs of service and we will look to ensure numbers remain up,' a spokesperson for HEE told Nursing in Practice.  

In addition, HEE will provide further investment from 2021/22 to ‘secure the long-term future of our district nursing teams'. It will work a group of key stakeholders including employers, educators and nurse leaders 'to agree how we best deploy this money to support the growth we need within district nursing,' the spokesperson added. 

HEE also confirmed that district nurses will ‘receive their proportion of the £150 million for CPD’, which was announced in the Spending Round 2019 in September.  

Announcing the investment at the Community Nurse Executive Network hosted by QNI, HEE chief nurse Mark Radford said it is ‘fantastic news’ for patients but that ‘there is more to do to raise the profile of the role to improve understanding’.     

He continued: ‘We are committed to working closely with key nursing stakeholders including the QNI to do just that. HEE is committed to developing our community teams and I look forward to working with all our partners to ensure a bright future.’ 

Dr Crystal Oldman, chief executive of the QNI, said the QNI is ‘delighted with the announcement’ of funding for both fees and salary support ‘early in the recruitment cycle’ as it will ‘support providers to fill every place for district nurse training and education’.