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Health Education England to invest up to £10m in clinical placements across England

12 March 2020

Investment plans to support new undergraduate nurses have been unveiled today by Mark Radford, Chief Nurse, Health Education England to boost nursing workforce numbers. £10m will be invested in clinical placement programmes to increase nursing capacity.

The funding builds on work last year that resulted in the number of clinical placements for nursing students increase by more than 7,500, enabling an additional 1,400 student nurses to start their training in September 2019.

Speaking to delegates at the Chief Nursing Officer’s Summit in Birmingham, Mark also set out plans to boost Learning Disability (LD) nursing, invest in Return to Practice Programmes and workforce transformation. He also underlined HEE’s commitment to nursing and supporting the government’s ambition to  recruit 50,000 nurses by 2023.

He also used to speech to highlight the need for nurse leaders to come together to tackle workforce issues and the work HEE has already undertaken to support the sector.

Speech Highlights include:

LD nursing investment plans

  • £2m investment in 19/20 with over 200 additional starters on apprentices routes, a good start to test appetite and plans to further investment in 20/21 in this workforce
  • HEE has set out a plan for national LD training with support of Minister with First course members in June 2021 after pilots this year  - a £1m pound investment
  • All-England learning disabilities plan setting out roadmap to support LD workforce.

Preventing student attrition

  • A new grant from Government of £5k to £8k to support students with financial issues.
  • £1 million per year to help systems and HEIs reduce attrition.

We are the NHS campaign

  • £4.8 million into promoting nursing as a profession with the CNO leading ‘We are the NHS’.

Return to Practice (RTP)

  • In 20/21 we will be planning to further invest £1m in regions to further support Trusts and HEis support students
  • Plans for another rerun of the ‘We are Returners’ campaign which generated 30k people into the programs and a revised CRM system to make sure opportunities are taken up

Nursing associate (NA) to registered nurse:

  • Funding to support nursing associates and apprentices to go on to train as registered nurses.
  • Each NA/AP will have a personal development plan written by September to determine future investment strategies for boosting registered nursing supply.

District Nursing

  • HEE promised to invest in DN and has invested £18m
  • Applications for DNSQP have risen for the first time in years: 495 nurses have applied for DNSQP from September 2020 (up from 407 the previous year).
  • Nursing in the Community film, developed in partnership with the QNI highlighting the role has had almost 30,000 hits and pushed more interest.


  • Further investment of up to £10m planned in 20/21 to secure additional clinical placements. This is in response to a 6% increase in Applications.


  • £150m allocations sent to all Trusts and primary care hubs
  • HEE will continue to invest £50m for workforce transformation support.

Addressing delegates Mark said:

Nursing is centre stage in the NHS, valued by patients across the country, it is important to highlight how nursing will continue to be a driving force of change in healthcare.  

We recognise some of the challenges for workforce, the rising demand across a health and social care, the worldwide challenges and the need to inspire new generations of people who want to come into our profession.

I see this a challenge for us as leaders - and the one that I put to you today is absolutely the one that we can lead and change and how do we do that is through collective support and partnerships

We have seen over the last year are closer working relationship between all parts of the healthcare system - it certainly isn’t perfect or complete – but we are now seeing change through greater system partnership at national and local levels.

As I have highlighted we are focussing on a number of initiatives to boost nursing numbers in support of the government commitment to 50,000 nurses. In particular in crucial areas including learning disability and district and investing in supporting new routes into nursing and CPD as well as encouraging nurses to return to practice.