NHS England publishes the NHS People Plan, prioritising bank staff before agency options

30 July 2020

Liaison Workforce on the NHS People Plan

NHS England has published the NHS People Plan today, which says that NHS organisations will need to prioritise bank staff in the future before looking at more expensive agency options.

What is the NHS People Plan?

The NHS People Plan sets out actions to support transformation across the NHS workforce. It focuses on how the NHS will foster a culture of inclusion and belonging, as well as action to grow the workforce, train people, and work differently to deliver patient care. It covers activity through 2020/21, but the expectation is that principles underpinning these actions will endure beyond this period.

The plan has been promised for some time by the Government as a way of reforming how the NHS workforce is managed and operates.

Integrated Care Systems are key

The plan highlights that Integrated Care Systems (systems) have an important role in leading and overseeing progress, including strengthening collaboration among health and care partners.

It says that systems should support greater alignment across workforce, operational and financial planning and that it will be “critical” to ensure a collaborative approach to recruitment.

Actions set out within the plan

  • When recruiting temporary staff, systems, trusts and primary care networks should prioritise the use of bank staff before agency and locum options and reduce the use of ‘off framework’ agency shifts during 2020/21.
  • The Plan says that systems should develop workforce sharing agreements locally to enable rapid deployment of people across localities where appropriate or where possible.
  • It also highlights that systems are supporting the trial of the COVID-19 digital staff passport during winter 2020, which simplifies the high volume of temporary staff movement between NHS organisations.

Workforce planning and transformation

On workforce planning and transformation, the People Plan outlines that systems must strengthen their approach to workforce planning to ensure staff are used efficiently. This includes playing a greater role in planning, fully integrating this with service and clinical strategies and financial plans and reviewing these plans in-year in response to changes to demand or services.

The Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, said:

“Our NHS people deserve to get on with caring for patients and this crisis has proved there’s bureaucracy that our healthcare system can do better without. So, I’m urging people across the NHS and social care to speak up about what red tape you can do without to allow you to better deliver the high-quality care you are renowned for.”

Judith Shaw, Managing Director at Liaison Workforce, said:

“We really welcome the launch of the plan. It’s encouraging to see the prioritising of bank staff and focus on a collaborative approach to recruitment and working. We partner with trusts in England to implement staff banks and collaborate, filling vacancies and reducing agency spend across the system. This saves the NHS over £36million a year through bank and ADE placements and supports them with the huge workforce challenges of long-term vacancies and unplanned absence contributing to vacant shifts across our NHS hospitals.”

The full People Plan can be found here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/ournhspeople/online-version/.

For further information on Liaison Workforce’s transformation support for NHS workforces, please click here.