Nurse training places will increase for the second consecutive year, HSJ can reveal.

But the growth across all four branches of nurse training in 2015-16 is smaller than the previous year and will result only in an extra 827 qualified nurses a year, a rise of 4 per cent.

Student nurse and mentor

Adult nurse training places are up 4.2 per cent

The places will be approved by Health Education England’s board later today in its national workforce plan for England, which sets out how it will spend its £5bn education and training budget.

In a sign of HEE shifting the focus for workforce training towards the new models of care set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View, the plan makes dramatic increases in post-registration specialist nursing roles based in the community. There is a 64 per cent increase in GP practice nursing, a 72 per cent increase in school nursing and a 16 per cent rise in district nurse training numbers.

Last year HEE increased adult nurse training places by 9 per cent, with a 6 per cent increase across all four pre-registration nurse branches. Increases to these branches for 2015-16 are:

  • adult nursing - up 4.2 per cent, or 555 places;
  • children’s nurses - up 7.4 per cent, or 161 places;
  • mental health nursing - up 3.2 per cent, or 100 places; and
  • learning disability nurses - up 1.7 per cent, or 11 places.

Jo Lenaghan, director of strategy and workforce planning at HEE, said: “We did have huge growth last year and it is important to remember this year’s increase is cumulative, so over two years adult nursing has increased 13.6 per cent, which is an additional 1,649 nurses.

“We think based on the work of our local education and training boards looking at employer forecasts, the supply we have added in last year and the steps trusts have taken, as well as our return to practice campaigns; we believe this year’s growth should be sufficient. However, we are going to be very vigilant and keep it under review.”

She said HEE’s return to practice campaign to attract former qualified nurses back to the profession has already resulted in an extra 789 qualified nurses to work in the system in recent months, with plans to source another 1,000 next year.

Ms Lenaghan added: “Looking at the five year forward view it is quite clear we are going to need more nurses in the community sector but nurses are gravitating to the acute sector because of the ‘post-Francis effect’.

“This year we are putting the foundations in place, but unless we take additional actions as a system to create more jobs in the community and encourage staff to take up those posts we don’t think we will achieve the models set out in the forward view.”

Allied health professions such as physiotherapists also see an increase of 8.6 per cent, with the largest growth in paramedic training up 44 per cent, a single year rise of 378 paramedics.

Undergraduate medical student places have been frozen at 6,071 places a year, reflecting the long term growth and supply of qualified doctors seen in recent years.

For postgraduate medical training the biggest change is in emergency medicine with a 14 per cent rise, or 95 places. Core medical training is up 4.3 per cent, or 107 places.

HEE said efforts to tackle the shortage in emergency medicine with run through training and an increase in places had resulted in a 98 per cent fill rate this year.