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New commission to review NHS workforce plan

by Jess Hacker
16 July 2021

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Health Education England (HEE) has been commissioned to review the long-term workforce strategy for health and social care sector, it has announced.

The review, which will build on the NHS People Plan, will renew and update the existing long term strategic framework, HEE’s Framework 15.

Published in 2014, Framework 15 set out the organisation intends to approach and solve problems – such as annual workforce planning – over the subsequent 15 years. It was most recently updated in February 2017.

HEE said it will issue a call for evidence to engage with existing partners, looking to identify key factors which will influence demand on the health service over the next 10 years, after acknowledging ‘achieving the required level of expertise and professional training can take more than a decade in the NHS’.

The framework will also be updated to include registered professionals working in social care, such as nurses and occupational therapists for the first time.

This comes days after the Government’s controversial Health and Care Bill passed its second reading in Parliament.

This week, the BMA passed a vote to vote to reject the ‘power grab’ bill, citing that it fails to address chronic workforce shortages or to protect the NHS from further outsourcing.

Recent estimates suggest England is short of the 49,162 FTE doctors needed to meet the country’s current healthcare challenge.

Long term plan does not solve current shortage

Although welcome, the NHS long term plan does not solve the current staff shortages facing the NHS, NHS Providers as said.

Chris Hopson, its chief executive, said the Government must commit the funding needed to support the plan, adding that it must use the autumn spending review to set out its response to the ongoing shortages.

He said: ‘There is also lots of existing evidence showing that there are already significant shortages in many areas so the government must start investing more in the NHS workforce now.’

He added that this motion ‘can’t be a one off’, and that NHS Providers will urge the Government to enshrine a long-term workforce plan in the Health and Care Bill.

Similarly, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said that ‘this announcement should not obscure the urgent need for decisive investment by the Prime Minister and Chancellor in addressing the chronic staffing issues’ in the NHS.

He called for greater clarity on the impact of recent workforce interventions, such as expanding medical schools and setting recruitment targets.

‘Understanding this will help leaders plan more realistically, and better identify the staffing gaps hampering the future delivery of the NHS long-term plan, as well as the huge waiting list backlog,’ he said.