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The commissioning of nurse education by consortia in England: a quasi-market analysis


Dr Becky Francis School of PCET, Southwood Site, University of Greenwich, Avery Hill Road, Eltham, London SE9 2HB, England.


The planning and commissioning of nurse education by consortia of NHS trusts and others in England is examined. These arrangements are analysed in terms of quasi-market theory, investigating their ability to co-ordinate effectively the demand for nurse education and workforce demand for nurses. Hence the paper examines evidence concerning the success or failure of consortia to co-ordinate these aspects, discussing the arguments over nurse and student nurse shortages, and the procedure for assessing the demand for nurse training places. The paper argues that current nurse shortages illustrate past planning errors in commissioning nurse training. Consequently, the central body (National Health Service Executive) is still aiding consortia in their decision-making concerning numbers of nurse training places, modelling workforce plans and suggesting increases in training places (and producing the money to pay for this). As such, it is argued, the quasi-market is not as yet a completely devolved one. It is suggested in the concluding discussion that if qualitative benefits of consortia fail to materialize (as suggested elsewhere), and the quantitative functions are inadequate, the utility of consortia as planners and commissioners of nurse education may be questioned.