There is a “continued lack of long-term investment in people and training” in the NHS, the Public Accounts Committee has concluded in its report into the financial management of the health service.
Published following an inquiry into the topic, the committee report says that the NHS People Plan has been “repeatedly delayed” and that the committee remains “concerned” by the 40,000 nursing vacancies and 9,000 medical staff vacancies in the NHS. The committee adds that “staffing shortages are one of the biggest risks in delivering the long-term plan” and warns that at present, the current system does not work effectively with accountability and responsibility for workforce planning being spread across several different bodies.
In its inquiry, the committee says that it has found that the Department for Health and Social Care has been “unable to give a definitive time frame for when the People Plan will be published”. It has also found that although a large number of staff have returned to the health service in response to Covid-19, this number was not sustainable long-term and that NHS England and Improvement was considering “alternative options” for training new staff.
As a result, the committee has recommended that:
- DHSC review the effectiveness of having a separate body overseeing the planning and supply of the NHS’s future workforce.
- NHS England and Improvement should work with Health Education England to evaluate how workforce planning can be improved, including the integration of training and education funding models with service planning and delivery, in order to overcome challenges.
- DHSC, NHSE&I and Health Education England should update the committee by the end of this year on its progress in this regard.
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