Concerns that too few public health and community nurses are being trained in England are growing, as new figures indicate a number of universities have seen reductions in the amount of funded course places they are able to offer this year.
The trend is revealed in figures given to Nursing Times in a snapshot survey of higher education institutions. The decrease in training places is in part a “knock-on” effect after the difficulties in recruiting enough nurses to fill courses in the past couple of years, Nursing Times has been told.
The challenge of filling public health nursing programmes has been so great that at least one university has been forced to cancel a programme.
Unions have warned that a range of factors are to blame, including cuts to public health nurse jobs, service changes and financial pressures, and uncertainties about the amount of funding employers receive to cover nurses while they are in full-time training.
Health Education England, which funds the training, has not yet confirmed how many specialist nursing course places it has commissioned for the 2017-18 academic year, due to its long-delayed publication of workforce plans.