A new strategy to boost the health education workforce has been published by Health Education England (HEE).
The Educator Workforce Strategy aims to tackle concerns in the health education sector about the capacity of educators to meet the current and future demands for more nurses and other clinical staff.
“It is a welcomed strategy and it is hoped that the profile of the clinical educator role will be recognised through this”
The strategy – which covers educators both in academic settings and clinical practice – warned that educators were increasingly reporting feeling undervalued and burnt out, amid rising service pressures in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It warned that that health educator workforce was ageing, but too few younger clinicians were choosing to take on these roles.
“Support and development for current educators, as well as succession planning, must be a priority if we are to meet the challenge to educate future healthcare professionals,” urged the report.
“A consistent culture of valuing education and training needs to be embedded in order that this becomes a core component for all.”
The HEE strategy sets out seven priorities for expanding and supporting the healthcare educator workforce.
These include making the educator workforce a key consideration in integrated workforce and service planning, establishing and protecting educator time and resources, and supporting the development and wellbeing of educators.
It also priorities improvement of equality, diversity and inclusion, and the introduction of career frameworks for educators of all professions as well as supporting improvement through defined standards and principles and embedding evolving and innovative models of education.
Luke White, committee member for the UK Clinical Nurse Educators Network, welcomed the strategy as a “positive step towards celebrating our clinical educator workforce”.
He told Nursing Times: “It is a welcomed strategy and it is hoped that the profile of the clinical educator role will be recognised through this.
“Education is one of the key elements in creating a safe, confident and competent workforce in the NHS and is also one way to increase staff experience and value.”
He said the findings in the report around the pressures on educators chimed with the network and he added that there was a need to “greatly support our clinical educator workforce”.
“They are the golden thread of establishing a positive education culture,” added Mr White, who is a registered adult nurse currently working as a clinical leadership fellow in clinical education in Leeds.
He said the seven priorities in the strategy were “good news for clinical educators”.
However, he said there were still questions to be answered in terms of how the strategy would be implemented and whether there would be extra resources to back it.
HEE is merging into NHS England next month.
An implementation plan for the health education workforce strategy would be developed by the new workforce, training and education team at NHS England, said HEE.
HEE chief executive Navina Evans said: “Ensuring that we have a strategy in place to develop and nurture the next generation of educators is vital.
“Without educators we do not have a future workforce, so as Health Education England transfers into the new NHS England, we will continue to focus on the priorities set out in this strategy, ensuring that we have the capacity and quality of educators the system needs to continue to grow the healthcare workforce now and in the future.”