Cuts to nurse training budgets will be reversed, claims NHS chief

He promised to ensure a “meaningful expansion” in the number of undergraduate nurses.

Matt Bodell
13 March 2019
Community Nurse with Patient

The head of NHS England promised he would ensure a “meaningful expansion” in the number of undergraduate nurses.

Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England, has offered a “personal guarantee” that the cuts to professional development budgets will be reversed and promised a “meaningful expansion” in undergraduate nursing numbers.


Stevens claimed that CPD budgets had orgionally been cut due to ‘funding reductions’ at Health Education England (HEE) but admitted he recognised the damage this had caused.

In a statement at the Chief Nursing Officer for England’s summit today, he said; “We know we have got to provide the tools to enable proper career development for nurses, midwives and health visitors”.

“You have my personal guarantee that we will get a restoration, phased over the next five years, for the budgets we need for CPD,” he said.

Adding; “We have got to see a meaningful expansion of undergraduate nurses. There’s no substitute. Even despite the fact we are going to have wonderful nursing associates and new routes into nursing there’s no substitute for graduate nurses and we have obviously seen this big fall in the number of applications for undergraduate nursing”.


‘We need to see a meaningful expansion in undergraduate nursing’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Acting Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Nurses at every stage in their career will be pleased to hear the personal commitment by Simon Stevens this morning at the Chief Nursing Officer’s summit that the savage cuts to funding for Continuing Professional Development in England over the past five years will be reversed. Lack of training opportunities are regularly cited by nurses in surveys as one of the main reasons they are unhappy and may leave their jobs. 

We also welcome Simon Stevens’ announcement this morning that we need to see a meaningful expansion in undergraduate nursing. The most effective way to ensure this is to invest £1 billion immediately in nurse higher education, in order to reverse the serious fall in the numbers of students taking nursing degree courses – there are almost 1,000 fewer students on undergraduate courses now than there were in 2016/17, before the nursing bursary was removed. 

“The RCN is part of the Workforce Implementation Group and we will work constructively to hold NHS England to these pledges. We will continue to provide fully costed and worked-up plans for bringing about both these objectives.”

‘Recruitment and retention’.

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, said: “Nurses and midwives have such an important role in health and social care, in people’s communities, and in their lives. Being the regulator of such important and trusted professions is a real privilege.


But focussing on what more we, and the health and care system as a whole, can do to help tackle the recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives is one of the most vital contributions we can all make – and supporting the professionalism and pride of nurses and midwives across the UK now, and in the future, has got to be at the heart of that.

“Every nurse or midwife we lose has an impact and costs, in terms of both recruiting new people, as well as the opportunity cost of replacing their invaluable experience and knowledge.

“I really welcome today’s pledge to prioritise continuing professional development as being not only the right thing to do for nurses and midwives who love seeing the difference they make for people, but as the most effective thing to do too.

“Working together we – regulators, nurses, midwives and their employers, the public and our partners – can help provide the right conditions where nurses and midwives feel valued and can truly thrive and flourish.”

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