This site is intended for health professionals only

HEE to invest £2 million in learning disability nursing

A £2 million investment has been pledged today by Health Education England (HEE) to help boost the size of learning disability workforce.

The cash injection will provide an extra 230 registered nurses and 150 trainee nursing associates in 2019/20, the education and training body has announced. 

As part of the funding, HEE is launching a new learning disability apprenticeship for postgraduates and undergraduates.

It will also cover a two-year registered nurse apprenticeship for nursing associates who wish to become learning disability nurses alongside additional funding towards a targeted awareness campaign. 

The investment is aimed at tackling the shortage of nurses in the field, while also forming part of a wider long-term strategy to reshape the learning disability workforce.

Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, HEE’s chief nurse, said that HEE will be working with services and education providers to welcome the additional 380 people between now and 31 March 2020.  

She said: ‘This is the first step in increasing the capacity and capability of the learning disability nursing workforce.’ 

Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said that the extra investment was ‘good news’ for thousands of families who relied on nurses to help patients with a learning disability. 

Ms May continued: ‘As highlighted in the latest NHS Interim People Plan there is demand for growth in this important workforce. This investment is intended to tackle the shortage of learning disabilities nurses in the short term, but also part of a wider long-term strategy of reshaping the workforce, working collaboratively with our partners, that include NHS England and NHS Improvement, to develop new roles and functions in learning disability services.’ 

Professor Brian Webster-Henderson, chair of the council of Deans of Health, said: 'We welcome this additional investment in the future learning disability workforce. This branch of nursing is the least well known but offers a hugely important and rewarding career. Those universities that are able to offer apprenticeships for nursing associates and learning disability nursing will work with employers to take advantage of this initiative, which we hope will be built upon in future years.' 

Earlier this year, the Royal College of Nursing called for urgent investment in learning disability nursing with staff numbers plummeting by 40% in the last decade.