Inclusion of support for better workforce planning encouraged for new NHS Bill

19 April 2021

Liaison Workforce

The Health Foundation, Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund have authored a joint letter to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, and the Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, Jeremy Hunt, calling on the forthcoming NHS Bill to establish a system that can support better workforce planning in the health service.

The letter calls on the government to introduce a new clause to the new bill that legislates that Health Education England “must publish annual, independently verified, projections of the future supply of the health care workforce in England and how those projections compare to projected demand for healthcare workforce in England for a 15-year period”.

Calls for independent projections have been made to the Health and Social Care Select Committee in recent oral evidence sessions, including by Anita Charlesworth (Director of the REAL Centre at the Health Foundation), one of the signatories of the letter.

In addition, the letter calls for a “fully costed workforce strategy”, covering the next five years: “Transparent, accurate projections will at best support and incentivise decisions that create the workforce we need in the long run: they are not an end in themselves. Staff will need immediate and ongoing support to help them recover, and preparing for the coming challenges will require a blend of local and national action.

“In order to develop a system able to meet future demand and that is resilient to future shocks, the NHS needs to develop a fully costed workforce strategy for the next five years… These workforce plans need to be fully funded in the forthcoming Spending Review. At times securing the right workforce will require difficult choices, particularly where fewer of certain staff groups are needed or where immigration policy is concerned.”

The letter concludes: “If the NHS is to overcome the obstacles it faces in recovering services after COVID-19, including clearing the backlog of care and addressing increased demand for mental health services, it needs to be fully and properly staffed. It will not be achieved without dedicated investment, a long-term workforce strategy and decisive action based on the best available data.”

Liaison Workforce Managing Director, Judith Shaw, agrees: “We fully support the inclusion of better workforce planning in the upcoming NHS Bill and already work with a number of trusts to facilitate workforce transformation and provide the support and guidance to facilitate organisational readiness and ensure maximum take-up. We aim to encourage new ways of working and support trusts to realise the potential of their workforce, inspiring change to ultimately deliver the best outcomes for patients.”

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