Warning over threats to training budgets

University leaders are warning that the quality of healthcare courses, including physiotherapy, could suffer if ministers go ahead with threats to cut NHS pre-registration training budgets by £82 million.

At a meeting last month, the Department of Health announced that it wanted to renegotiate this September’s promised 9 per cent funding increase after some strategic health authorities said it was no longer affordable with the economic downturn. Universities received a 3.9 per cent rise last year, as part of a total 12.8 per cent two-stage uplift, but without the full second increase university bodies said that up to 500 health training jobs could be at risk, with around 100 allied health professional posts potentially affected. The Council of Deans and the University and College Union are in on-going talks with the department over the issue. The CSP has also highlighted its concerns over potential budget cuts with the DH. Phil Gray, CSP chief executive, wrote a letter in April to Nic Greenfield, DH deputy director of workforce, calling for the government to stick to its agreement. Mr Gray wrote: ‘We are concerned that a very collaborative partnership process is now being jeopardised by some last minute decisions which could cause lasting damage to the sustainability of AHP education at the very point where a range of government policies stemming from the Next Stage Review indicate the significance of AHPs in delivery of effective, quality, patient care.’ Grahame Pope, who teaches physiotherapy at the University of Nottingham, warned: ‘Student contact is constantly under pressure, and we cannot afford to increase class sizes any more. The government said that it wants to increase access to rehabilitation services, but these cuts would have a devastating impact on delivering access to patients.’  
Louise Hunt

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