The Department of Health (DH) and the Department for Education and Skills have unveiled funding of £4.3 billion for the training and development of the National Health Service, marking a 3.6% rise over 2006/7.

Arrangements for the management of training budgets were also announced with the introduction of a new service level agreement between the DH and the Strategic Health Authorities, which manage the budgets, laying out the priorities of where the money should be invested.

New tool

The SLA provides a tool by which the DH can ensure that SHAs work in partnership with local higher educations institutions and NHS bodies to effectively plan their investment in workforce development based on long-term need, the DH said.

“It is important that the NHS has the freedom to manage training so that workforce development reflects the healthcare needs of the local population,” Health Minister Lord Hunt commented. “However, we expect this agreement to put training plans on a much firmer footing so that the investment we have made will enable SHAs and their local universities to work together to produce a well-trained NHS workforce that can deliver improved patient care,” he added.

Bill Rammell, Minister for Further and Higher Education, said that the agreement “underlines the importance of close partnership working between the NHS and HEIs…We will expect SHAs to consider the impact of their decisions on the financial viability of HEIs, and to work towards implementing the agreed benchmark prices for their contracts with HEIs.”

The training budget

The Multi Professional Education & Training (MPET) budget was born in 1996 and comprises: Non-Medical Education and Training (NMET), the majority of which is spent on pre-registration training for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, but also includes funding to universities for tuition costs and bursaries; Medical and Dental Education Levy (MADEL), which supports the basic salary costs, and some non-pay costs, of junior doctors in training; and Service Increment for Teaching (SIFT), which supports the additional expenses incurred by NHS organisations in providing clinical placements for medical and dental undergraduates. Control of the MPET budget was devolved to SHAs in 2006/7.