Health Education England (HEE) has announced that the national CPD budget for this year will increase by 17% compared to 2017.
Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive of HEE, acknowledged that the increase was still ‘not enough’, but hoped it would help to address the retention issue affecting the nursing workforce.
He quoted figures from one NHS Trust, where 40% of the nurses they had recruited from university training programmes had left within two years.
It follows a health select committee report earlier this year, which recommended that the Government must reverse cuts that had impacted CPD budgets in England. CPD funding fell from £205m in 2015 to just over £83m in 2017.
Speaking at the NHS Confed conference in Manchester, Professor Cumming said: ‘Excluding people retiring, the turnover in the NHS has gone from 7.3% per annum in 2012 to 8.7% per annum in 2017. If we managed to keep retention of nurses at the same level in 2017 that it was in 2012, 50% of the nursing vacancies in the NHS today would not exist.
‘Part of the problem is investment in CPD and workforce transformation, and I’m pleased to announce that this year’s CPD budget will be 17% higher than last year’s CPD budget.’
He also looked to address the issue of nurse training, with figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service showing a rapid fall in the number of people applying for nurse undergraduate courses.
He said: ‘We have got an additional 25% funding for clinical placements for nurse students, but we need to recruit people onto the courses in the first place.
‘One of the questions I want to address is that recruitment onto nurse training programmes was down by 6% [in 2017], but 17,000 young people who applied to universities for a nurse training place didn’t get one. Where are they? What are they doing? Why didn’t they get one? Some may have been unsuitable – they may not have met the required academic competencies, or the right behaviours. But we’ve turned away 17,000 people.’
But Professor Cumming had better news for the first batch of nursing associates, due to graduate in December, with retention rates on the courses of 86%, a figure he described as ‘way beyond our expectations’.
He stated his belief that nursing associates will help to boost the nursing workforce in England by becoming registered nurses.
He added: ‘By NHS80, we expect there to be 45,000 nursing associates working in this country, and we expect 17,000 of those nursing associates to have gone on to train as registered nurses by NHS80.’