The Education Commissioning Process
WEDS use the workforce plans produced by NHS Organisations 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 2 and 7 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 WEDS, which then contracts with the education sector to deliver the training. The numbers are usually finalised in February, for that September’s admissions.
The Role of Education Contracting
The budget is in the order of £84 Million per annum. About half of this funds bursaries, salaries, expenses and allowances for students. The remaining budget funds the University courses. WEDS 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.
How do NHS Wales benefit?
There are two key benefits to NHS Wales. Firstly, by controlling the numbers going through professional training, NWSSP 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, as an NHS organisation dealing directly with Universities, WEDS 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. It is also worth noting that Wales has some of the lowest attrition from programmes in the UK.