Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) uses workforce plans to establish how many training places each year are required to meet the needs of the non-medical healthcare professional workforce.
There is a lead in time of between two and seven years to train healthcare professionals.
These training numbers, together with workforce analysis and evidence, are presented to Welsh Government (WG) in November each year for their approval. WG considers these recommendations and provides a final set of training numbers and a budget back to HEIW, which then contracts with the education sector to deliver the training. The numbers are usually finalised in February, for that September’s admissions.
The budget is in the order of £125million per annum. About half of this funds bursaries, salaries, expenses and allowances for students. The remaining budget funds the university courses. HEIW negotiates a fee per student for every student on each programme. Our aim is to obtain high quality health education that provides good value for money for the NHS, while supporting our education partners.
As well as considering the prices we pay, we look at key performance indicators relating to programmes (e.g. the number and quality of applicants and attrition from programmes), through a series of contracting meetings throughout the year.
There are three key benefits to NHS Wales. Firstly, by controlling the numbers going through professional training, HEIW is able to match the output from health professional training to the available jobs. It is not in the interest of the NHS or the public purse to train health professionals whose skills and knowledge cannot then be utilised.
Secondly, post-registration education and training enables existing healthcare professionals to develop their careers by undertaking specialist training to provide better patient services.
Thirdly, as an NHS organisation dealing directly with universities, HEIW is able to ensure that the budget is utilised efficiently. We have been able to demonstrate this by maintaining training numbers at a time of financial constraint.