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What is this fund?

It is funding set aside for registered nurses, nursing associates, midwives and other allied health professionals working for the NHS in England to access an individual development fund of £1,000 over three years – £333 per year. It may be used to undertake the 35 hours of CPD needed to revalidate with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Katy Welsh

Above: Katy Welsh

The fight for funding to increase access to CPD was led by the Chief Nursing Officer for England, Ruth May. It's since been secured by NHS England and NHS improvement.

Staff are expected to identify the CPD funding they wish to apply for in their appraisals and discussions with their managers. They will need their line manager’s support to attend training, which should be relevant to their role and align with workplace priorities.

The funding commenced in 2020 and completes in 2023.

What can the funding be used for?

It could be used to access courses; virtual and face-to-face study days; university level accredited modules; subscriptions to clinical portals; training and associated travel costs; conferences and events relevant to the profession and practice development programmes.

It should be used only to access CPD and not for backfilling or equipment. It can’t be carried over into the next financial year but can be used as part-payment for a more expensive course.

Why is it important learning reps talk about this now?

You can access the 2021 funds of £333 until 31 March 2022, when the year two funding ends. The final funding year will start on 1 April 2022 and end on 31 March 2023.

What can learning reps do to help members access this fund?

Make sure eligible members are aware of this funding opportunity. Remind them to have clear discussions about their CPD requests and link them to the benefits for their career or learning and organisation or service needs.

Make sure eligible members are aware of this funding opportunity

Learning reps can actively ask for updates on the CPD budget at staff side. They can also ask at partnership forum meetings and discuss how it is being used and allocated, to ensure fairness.

What should members do to make sure their employers are aware of the fund?

Members working for the NHS can contact their practice education or workforce development team to find out more about accessing CPD funds. It’s also helpful to check existing organisational training policies and guidance.

Learning reps can encourage members to use their supervision, personal development reviews and appraisals to discuss potential CPD opportunities and speak with their line manager about eligibility and access to the funding.

What should managers be considering?

This funding for CPD is one way to support improvements in patient safety, staff development and job satisfaction, helping to retain the workforce.

Managers should be aware of the legal requirement for registered nursing staff to undertake a minimum of 35 hours CPD over three years in line with their NMC revalidation requirements.

Think creatively about CPD funding

Learning reps can advise managers to think creatively about CPD funding, looking beyond supporting academic or formal courses and qualifications. Perhaps they could consider using external speakers or mapping the service needs with strategic priorities in different ways. Facilitated sessions on topics like how to have coaching conversations or resilience-based supervision will support staff development.

Learning reps can also discuss with managers that appraisals should include personal development plans that focus on staff ambitions and values. It’s important to invest in all staff as individual practitioners and be proactive about clinical service needs for the forthcoming years so funding is utilised effectively. 

Managers should be supported to link personal development to the RCN Nursing Workforce Standards, the nursing strategy and NHS people plan priorities.

What will happen when the funding ends?

The RCN will need to lobby the government to make sure an appropriate level of CPD funding continues for all health and social care staff beyond April 2023. This is to ensure the nursing workforce continues to develop and respond to the changing needs of patients and the health care landscape.

What if members aren’t eligible for the funding?

Members should also be creative and consider alternatives to formal paid courses, developing peer education sessions such as “lunch and learn” or writing reflective accounts as evidence of learning from a complex case or situation. There are examples of courses and e-learning on the RCN website.

Katy Welsh is Chair of the RCN UK Learning Reps Committee.

Educational grants

Where CPD funding isn't available, educational grants can be applied for via the RCN Foundation. Find out how to access funding.

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