NHS training cutbacks must be stemmed

The number of training places available to new NHS staff cannot be allowed to continue falling at its present rate, according to NHS Employers.

In a briefing document to MPs on workforce planning, it said the indications were that the training budget for graduates joining the health service would be cut by 10% this year.

“The number of training places needs to be sustained in future years to ensure the NHS has the workforce it needs, in particular, to deal with the demographic effect of an ageing workforce and an ageing overall population,” the briefing states.

“NHS Employers believes that there is a need for stability in funding for training. Hasty reductions in training commissions or cutbacks in post-entry training budgets need to be avoided.”

In an opposition debate on NHS workforce development last week, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said NHS staff were being demoralised by cuts in jobs and funding. But Foluke Ajayi, head of NHS careers and workforce supply at NHS Employers, said the 10% cut in itself was not disastrous for the health service.

“[The NHS] has been in a growth phase and has reached a plateau,” she said. “We don’t need to maintain that growth.”

NHS under fire for temp costs

The NHS came in for further criticism last week when the health minister said the service must improve its management of temporary staff costs.

“Managers have a duty to get their temporary staff spend under control before they turn to measures such as vacancy freezing or reduction in posts,” Lord Warner said.

Last year, total spending on agency and temporary staff was £1.3bn – about 4.2% of the pay bill. “The NHS needs to go further, faster, especially in areas outside nursing,” he said.

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