Medacs Healthcare

SEP 22/2015

Spending cuts 'could impact nurse education budgets'

Nurse education budgets could be at risk from the government's current spending review, according to health policy experts.

When speaking to Nursing Times, the group warned that the Treasury is planning to redefine the current ringfence around health spending in NHS England's budget, which they feel could see billions earmarked for training at risk.

In November, the government will publish the results of its spending review, which will outline cuts it claims can be made without damaging the health service in order to help bring the deficit down by 2020.

Health policy experts, including the Nuffield Trust, Health Foundation and the King’s Fund, claim that by redefining the ringfence, budgets for Department of Health funded organisations would not be covered.

This means organisations like Public Health England and Health Education England, with annual budgets of £3.7 billion and £4.9 billion respectively, could be in the firing line.

Nigel Edwards, chief executive of Nuffield Trust, told Nursing Times: "Our concern is that the way they have carefully described the ringfence allows them to take large amounts of money out of training, public health, and research and development without breaching their promise on spending on the NHS."

He added that one area of education that could find itself particularly vulnerable to these cuts is the provision of bursaries for student nurses, which could see many potential nurses decide not to train because of the financial implications.

Anita Charlesworth, chief economist at the Health Foundation, claims that savings that trusts have already committed themselves to making would be "undeliverable" if effective education system isn't available to ensure enough staff are trained.

A spokesperson for the Treasury said: "The forthcoming spending review will set out how the government will continue to invest in priority public services including the NHS, whilst delivering the further savings required to eliminate Britain’s deficit by 2019-20."

The representative added that security for working people comes from a properly funded NHS, which is why the government feels like it is taking the necessary action to protect funding and increase the Department of Health's budget.

“We have absolutely no plans to change this,” he continued.

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