Health Education England (HEE) has committed £50m of its 2019-20 workforce development budget in advance to NHS employers to enable them to put in place more effective plans for the upskilling of current NHS staff.

The announcement was made by HEE Director of Finance Calum Pallister speaking at the HFMA Annual Conference yesterday (6 December).

Employers will be free to determine how the funding is used within a broad menu of options and HEE will write to all eligible organisations in January 2019 with details of the scheme, said a statement.

Workforce development money is invested in NHS staff to give them new or different skills or sometimes to refresh skills.

Pallister said: “Employers have been asking us for earlier confirmation of this money. We haven’t been able to commit in advance before in this way and that has not helped Trusts with their planning.

“The early notice we are giving this year will provide greater certainty for the system, allowing employers time to plan properly how they are going to invest the money, making the best, most effective use of what we are providing to develop staff in priority areas that will bring most benefit to patients.”

Responding to the announcement, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “This is of course welcome investment in the development of our people and recovers some of the money lost when the continuing professional development (CPD) funds were reduced in 2015 from £205 million to £83 million.

“This was a consequence of real terms disinvestment at that time in HEE – something that will hopefully change to support the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan.”