The training needs of nurses and allied professionals could be undermined if the government merges the three main clinical education advisory bodies.
HSJ’s sister magazine Nursing Times has learned officials are drawing up plans to create a special health authority called Health Education England to oversee education and training across all clinical professions.
The medics’ body Medical Education England would be merged with the allied health professional advisory board and the nursing and midwifery professional advisory board.
Medical Education England, which covers medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and healthcare science, is by far the largest of the three bodies that would be absorbed into Health Education England. As a result medical education is expected to dominate the new organisation, leading to fears that the nursing and midwifery component could be merely a “subcommittee”.
Health Education England is expected to be responsible for allocating £4bn-£5bn of funding annually.
The dominance of medical concerns in education funding was apparent earlier this year when the Department of Health delayed for the second year running promised reforms to increase funding for pre-registration nurse placements, as that would involve shifting funds from undergraduate medical placements.
The merger proposal is contained in a draft consultation on NHS education and training - which builds on the government’s health white paper Liberating the NHS - and is expected to be made public in mid December.
The views of NHS staff will be sought on the proposals, but the idea of creating one health education body is said to have strong government support.
Behind the scenes, nurse educators have been lobbying hard to be treated as equals in the planned body.
Council of Deans of Health chair Sue Bernhauser said: “We support a merger of these three bodies, not Medical Education England looking after the rest of us. We have had to have discussions with the DH about it.”
Health Education England will need a chair, non-executive directors and a chief executive.