• Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust already granted £50,000, reveals Ruth May
  • Money will ensure trust has ”capacity for clinical placement extensions”
  • Chief nursing officer says 7,000 clinical placements pledged by providers

Thousands more clinical placements will be delivered via money being paid directly to directors of nursing rather than via commissioning contracts, England’s chief nursing officer has announced.

Speaking at the HSJ Patient Safety Congress in Manchester on Wednesday, Ruth May said she has “signed a cheque to Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust for £50,000”, which will give the director of nursing a “direct transfer from me, as chief nursing officer”.

Ms May said the money would mean the trust had “sufficient funding in making sure they have capacity for clinical placement extensions”.

Earlier this year, Simon Stevens said there should be a meaningful expansion of training places and called on the NHS to work locally with universities to create new places and identify the funding necessary for clinical placements.

Ms May said 7,000 clinical placements have now been pledged by providers across the whole of England, which has “busted” the 5,000 target in January’s NHS long-term plan.

“We are concentrating very heavily on increasing clinical placements to increase the graduate supply for this September,” Ms May said.

She also announced plans to invest £1.6m over two years for an excellence programme to raise standards of nursing. This would enable 14 trusts in England to join a “highly respected international programme” focused on six standards, including shared decision-making, wellbeing and continuing professional development, she said.

She said Northampton General Hospital Trust was the first to be awarded the formal “pathway to excellence” accreditation.

Ms May announced the creation of a new deputy chief nursing officer role, for clinical and digital transformation, which could be a joint appointment reporting to her and to Matthew Gould, the chief executive of the new NHSX agency. It will be advertised shortly, she said.

When asked about staffing levels and safety, Ms May argued funding was not the main constraining factor. She said: “I’m not going to sit and lie and say we have enough nurses – we don’t. What we also know is we are spending in excess of what it costs to recruit a nurse on agency shifts. The cost balance is there for me.

“The biggest issue for me is, ‘do we have enough nurses in the system we can attract and retain?’ The financial incentive is part of it but also how we promote our profession and consider how we support students in the future.”