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Leadership and data needed for NHS workforce planning says report

29 April 2015

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A lack of data and leadership around current workforce planning have been highlighted in a report released today.

The King’s Fund report, Workforce planning in the NHS, focuses on recent trends in mental health, primary care and community services and considers the rising use of temporary staff and regional variations.

The report highlights that present clinical workforce will be the same as that in 2020 meaning there will need to be a “clear plan” on how the current workforce would meet future challenges.

However it states there is a lack of responsibility around managing and recruiting the workforce needed today as NHS England looks after the recruitment of the future workforce and it calls for clarity on who is responsible for current planning.

It does place the responsibility with individual organisations and their boards to ensure that they learn from best practice in terms of retention, retraining or changing skill-mix. But states employers need to be clear about the “extent to which affordability has influenced their estimates of future workforce so the system can understand where it is taking risks”.

It says policy makers need to be proactive rather than reactive and this would be helped by better integration and more data on theindependent sector, the use of temporary staff and on vacancy rates. 

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said:“It’s important that any future policies support the ability of local NHS organisations to deploy staff in the best way to support high quality and efficient patient care. This will allow them to build on the examples of innovation we see across the NHS.

“NHS Employers is working with organisations across the system to increase the supply of shortage groups and to support health care providers to retain and develop their existing workforce.” 

The report backed the New Deal for General Practice announced by NHS England, Health Education England, the Royal College of GPs(RCGP) and the British Medical Association (BMA) in January 2015 to maintain the current workforce.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, said: “For too long, general practice and filling GP vacancies have taken a backseat in order to shore up other parts of the health service, when the reverse should be happening.