• Guy’s and St Thomas’ FT nursing staff being offered courses in the private sector
  • Trust warns access to CPD a national issue
  • Independent Healthcare Providers Network says it invests heavily in CPD

Private sector providers are taking advantage of training budget cuts to tempt nurses away from a major NHS hospital trust. 

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust has revealed private sector companies are targeting nurses with specific training offers.

The trust’s April board papers warned the reduction in continued professional development funding from Health Education England “continues to have an impact on the NHS’ ability to retain staff”.

The papers continued: “This has had a recent impact on theatre and anaesthetic staff who are being offered courses by the private sector as a recruitment incentive.”

A Guy’s and St Thomas’ FT spokeswoman said the issue was affecting nursing staff specifically, although could not confirm the specific number of staff who had left. She added staff retention and access to CPD in the NHS was a national issue and has been for some time.

“To address this, we have launched the Nightingale Nurse Award, a professional award that is accredited by King’s College London,” she added. “We are also looking at a range of work-based learning initiatives and will continue to support our staff to apply for grants where we can.”

Health Education England’s CPD budget has been cut steadily since 2012. In 2017, it was reduced from £190m to £84m, although, this year, HEE is looking to invest at least £120m in CPD funding.

David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, told HSJ that CPD training was a useful recruitment tool for private providers.

He said: “As responsible employers, independent healthcare providers invest heavily in CPD as a key way of recruiting and retaining staff to deliver high quality care to NHS and private patients.”

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, told HSJ that employers in the NHS understand the “essential nature” of ongoing CPD to develop and retain staff.

“Our members have welcomed the recent announcement from HEE that monies will be made available to trusts, through its workforce development fund in 2019-20, to support CPD,” Mr Mortimer said.

He said NHS Employers is continuing to ask the government to “help our service’s ability to support CPD for our staff through greater flexibility in the use of the apprenticeship levy”.

In an interview with HSJ last month, HEE’s chair Sir David Behan said the removal of money from CPD budgets was a “trade-off” to increase the number of nurses in training and stressed it had not been made clear this money was not removed from spending.