• HEE says work from review will instead be fed into wider workforce plans
  • Sources say decision was made after steering group members pulled out over serious concerns

A much-anticipated review of community nursing has been scrapped after internal complaints were raised by members of the advisory panel.

Health Education England has decided not to publish a review it has carried out of community nursing over the past year, saying the work will instead feed into wider workforce plans.

When launching the review in 2018, HEE had said it was “essential” to understand why training places were not being filled and support a more flexible workforce.

According to multiple senior sources, the decision has come after two members of its steering group pulled out of the review due to serious criticisms over the quality and focus of the report.

HSJ was also told there were requests from other members of the group that the report not be published.

Organisations included in the steering group were NHS Improvement, NHS England, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Royal College of Nursing, the Council of Deans, the Queen’s Nursing Institute, and provider trust representatives.

It comes after concerns from members of the steering group were revealed in March, including that the work was heavily “based on anecdote” and “conversations”.

There were also issues over a perceived lack of support for the post graduate specialist district nursing qualification.

National funding for the qualification is due to end this year, and the government has said, from 2020-21, a two-year course will be funded through the apprenticeship levy. However, as reported by HSJ in December, this leaves a gap in 2021 with potentially no new district nurses qualifying.

Liz Fenton, deputy chief nurse at HEE said: “We have been engaging with a wide range of partners for over a year to develop the best possible future for the adult community nursing workforce. It is important to make clear that only two members of the steering group left the discussions towards the end of that time.

“The valuable knowledge and insight we gained from that is being used to support our work to deliver the NHS long-term plan and the people plan.

“Health Education England is fully committed to the development of the community workforce and last year invested £18.5m in the development of district nurses.

“In addition, we are working with the Queens Nursing Institute on the development of a short film that promotes the rewarding career opportunities in community nursing and we are working with the Florence Nightingale Foundation to deliver a bespoke leadership programme for community nursing.”

The revelation comes amid wider concerns that community services are not given the levels of attention and funding of other sectors. Last year, it emerged NHSE had decided not to publish a specific national plan for community services.