Funding your Minor Illness Course

The first hurdle which you face may be to persuade your employer that in order to safely manage patients with minor illness, you need to have a recognised qualification. It may help to remind them that several serious and life-threatening illnesses may first present with minor symptoms; for example, a child with diarrhoea and vomiting could have pyelonephritis or undiagnosed diabetes. In today’s culture, an organisation which employs an unqualified nurse to manage minor illness is very vulnerable to litigation if something goes wrong.

Nurses managing patients with minor illness are working in an extended role. Education and training ultimately define their fitness for practice. A certificate of attendance on a course is not proof of competence; a period of practice with an accredited mentor is essential in order to demonstrate the ability to apply theory to practice. This should be followed by a signed formal assessment stating the nurse’s competence to manage minor illness.

The NMC Code (2008) states:

  • You must have the knowledge and skills for safe and effective practice when working without direct supervision
  • You must recognise and work within the limits of your competence.

General Practice Nurse (GPN) Initiative says “It is a travesty that some nurses are still providing care to patients when they have not been appropriately trained and assessed to carry out the work they are undertaking”. (Source: Education for Health)

Download our template here [Word Document Format] to help you to make your case for funding. Although designed for practice nurses, it can easily be adapted to other roles.

Sources of Funding

  1. General Practice
    Unfortunately general practices no longer have a ring-fenced training budget, and therefore you may need to persuade your practice that undertaking the Minor Illness Course will be cost-effective. Suggestions about how to achieve this are included in the template. There may also be a problem with losing your availability for clinical work during the seminars and when you are observing consultations. It may help to address this if you are prepared to do some of the work in your own time.

  2. Primary Care Organisation
    If you are working in primary care, sometimes your Primary Care Organisation may fund your course. Currently, there is no standardisation across the NHS in the UK of who is responsible for local funding for education and training courses. It is important for you to find out who fulfils this role in your area. Some PCTs or Health Boards will have a nominated person who is responsible for nurse education; in other places it may be less obvious whom you should approach.

  3. RCN Funding
    The RCN administers awards and scholarships for nurses, midwives and health visitors and health care assistants for study, research, travel, conferences etc. More information can be found on the RCN website. Grants of up to £500 are available for members to enhance their professional skills, knowledge and competence. Closing date: annually in August. Application forms are available to download from mid June until mid August.

    Other awards are offered through membership of one of the RCN's National Forums and advertised in the newsletter of the relevant forum. Named contacts are available on 020 7409 3333 unless otherwise specified. To join one of the RCN's National Forums, please go to the forum section of their website.

  4. The Ethicon Nurse Educational Trust Fund
    For members of RCN, NATN or ICNA to further their professional development and enhance the standard of expertise in their field. Funding can be used to support a wide range of activities from postgraduate education to conference attendance. Closing date annually 5 April. Forms are available to download from February to March each year. To go on the mailing list for a form when available please telephone Fitwise on 01506 811077 or Email Lynn at Fitwise

  5. NW Practice Nurses Education Fund
    Open to practice nurses in the Northwest region. Applications are considered twice a year in May and September. Further details from RCN, Chesham House, St Georges Square, Bolton BL12HB. Tel: 01204 531531. Fax: 01204 531607

  6. Guy's Hospital Scholarships - Educational Funding
    If you trained or worked at Guy's Hospital you could be eligible for two sources of funding to support or supplement your studies. For more information please apply to: The Scholarship Secretary, Guy's Hospital Nurses' League, West Wing, Guy's Hospital, St Thomas' Street, London SE1 9RT.

  7. The Florence Nightingale Foundation
    The Foundation promotes the special contribution of nursing to society and to the health of people. It encourages international understanding and learning between nurses. It raises funds to provide scholarships for nurses, midwives and health visitors to study at home and abroad, to promote innovation in practice, to extend knowledge and skills to meet changing needs. Many different funds are available. Further information can be found on the website: www.florence-nightingale-foundation.org.uk.

This information is based on that provided by Education for Health. Please let us know if you discover any errors, or know of alternative sources of funding.