Changes to NHS training funding could undermine the ability of trusts to deliver required efficiency savings, the education lead on the government’s NHS reform “listening exercise” has warned.
The Department of Health’s Liberating the NHS: developing the NHS workforce consultation proposed that the larger part of paying for training should be taken on by local “skills networks” funded by a levy on providers.
The new body Health Education England will “take a strategic overview of the funding priorities and allocate money to different areas as appropriate”, according to the consultation document.
Currently, training funds are taken from a central pot known as the multi-professional education and training budget and distributed through strategic health authorities.
The consultation ended in March but responses have not yet been published.
Julie Moore, NHS Future Forum education and training lead and chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust, told HSJ the plan would make workforce planning more “flexible”.
However, she said people were “rightly concerned” about how the NHS is going to make savings and how an “imposed” levy on providers to fund training would work.
“The way that education training is [to be] funded could actually add to the [financial] problem,” she said.
She said trusts feared the changes could leave some providers that were already struggling to make savings worse off, depending on how the levy and funding formula operate.
The King’s Fund’s response to the consultation in March called for clarity on how the levy will be allocated and said “devising a formula perceived to be fair by all is likely to be very difficult”.
Ms Moore said there was a concern about the pace of change and said a “phased” approach would be “more helpful”.
She said: “That is something I will be feeding back, that people are worried about the speed of that change as well as the overall changes [to training].”
Ms Moore also said focus on the government’s training and education proposals had been “lost” due to the volume of change taking place in the health service.
She said: “If it was the only thing happening people would really be looking at the detail.”
She said she intended to “crystallise” the concerns heard during the listening exercise and feed them back to the DH.
A DH spokeswoman said the department expects to respond to the consultation in the summer.
An NHS Employers spokesman said: “We urge the DH to work closely with stakeholders to ensure any proposals are appropriate and are developed with a view to transition arrangements. They must ensure individual organisations are not destabilised by the changes.”