Council of Deans responds to the NHS Long Term Plan

7 January 2019

The Council of Deans of Health has responded to the NHS Long Term Plan, published today 7 January.

Professor Brian Webster-Henderson, Chair of the Council, said:

“There is much to welcome in the Long Term Plan, including its focus on public health, recognition of the importance of continuing professional development, commitment to workforce expansion over the next 10 years and its focus on restoring growth in undergraduate education as central to the success of the plan.

“We are pleased that the Government recognises the importance of placement availability to workforce growth and we welcome the commitment to fund as many clinical placements for nurses and midwives as universities can fill (up to a 50% increase on current numbers). This commitment will need to be supported by additional funding for continuing professional development in the existing workforce to create the necessary additional capacity in workplace education.

“The Council whole-heartedly supports the announcement of annual recruitment campaigns and will work with the Government to discuss its plans for ‘earn and learn’ schemes for mental health and learning disability nursing courses for mature students. The focus on learning disability nursing is particularly important if the Long Term Plan’s aspirations for improved learning disability care are to be realised.

Employment rates for nurse, midwife and allied health profession graduates are already very high (with 94% of nurses in employment a year after graduation) but applicants may be reassured by the new five-year job guarantee announced by the plan.

My main concern about today’s publication is its statement that thousands of highly motivated and well-qualified applicants are being turned away by universities. This is simply not the experience of our members. We know that while universities are easily recruiting to some healthcare courses, such as child nursing and physiotherapy, they often struggle to attract students to mental health, learning disability, adult nursing and some allied health profession courses.”

The Plan includes an announcement that a new online nursing degree will be launched for the NHS at a lower cost to students.

Professor Webster-Henderson commented:

“We need to see further details on this. Nursing is a high cost subject and is unlikely to be much cheaper when accessed online so the Government would need to subsidise this route. I am concerned that without careful implementation this option could undermine the important local relationships between employers and universities.”

While the Long Term Plan sets out a number of specific workforce actions, details will be developed by a new national workforce group with a workforce implementation plan published later in 2019.

Professor Webster-Henderson said:

“Universities are absolutely key in delivering the workforce growth required by the Long Term Plan. We urge NHS Improvement, NHS England and Health Education England to ensure that universities are represented on the national workforce group. We welcome the Long Term Plan’s focus on allied health professions, nurses and midwives and support its announcement of the introduction of a Chief Midwifery Officer.”



  1. The Council of Deans of Health is the representative voice of the deans and heads of UK university faculties for nursing, midwifery and the allied health professions
  2. For more information on this press release, contact Jon Eames, 07496 693806

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