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The long-running dispute between Health Education England and the Treasury over HEE’s budget has come to a head with news that the body will be incorporated into NHS England.

HSJ understands from senior sources that the funding settlement sought by HEE was deemed unaffordable, triggering its demise. It is expected the independent education body will become part of the NHSE by April 2023.

Last month, the Treasury failed to confirm the NHS’ education and training budgets when issuing its three-year spending plans. The omission included any ongoing budget for HEE.

A senior HEE source told HSJ the merger was “disappointing” but added that “in the longer term it is the right decision, or at least not a bad decision. If HEE had proportionately been given the money NHSE has received over the past eight years it would have made a massive difference. We need to align service finance and workforce planning and this does that. Being outside the ring fence [around NHSE funding] is not a good thing.”

Making a statement

This week Amanda Pritchard addressed the NHS Providers conference for the first time as chief executive of NHS England and used the opportunity to attempt to win over frontline staff.

She stressed that she had “heard” the concerns raised by staff about the current pressure on services, adding that it is “unfair” for them to continue working so hard.

Her comments are likely in response to an article she wrote for HSJ last week, which attracted some criticism for not acknowledging the challenges currently being faced by healthcare workers.

In her speech, Ms Pritchard warned of the pressures being faced by domiciliary care and the impact it will have on the NHS – as the two are “inextricably linked”.

She said: “It’s important that work continues over coming months [to support] care homes, in particular to keep their residents safe and well out of hospital wherever possible.

“We know that domiciliary care providers are really struggling and they are going to struggle more this winter. The fate of the NHS is inextricably linked to [that struggle].

“So anything we can do together to support patients to be safely discharged when they’ve been in hospital [or] to stay healthy at home in the first place is going to benefit us, too.”