The report, produced inconjunction with NHS England, NHS Improvement, Public Health England, the Care Quality Commission, National Institute for Clinical Excellence and Department of Health, concludes that the NHS needs radical action to improve working conditions, boost training and retention and become a ‘model employer’ for staff.
The report Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future, A health and care workforce strategy for England to 2027 acts as a review, consutlation and strategy document. It looks at the challenges faced by the health and care system, charting the growth in the NHS workforce over the last five years, considering the critical workforce challenges for the next decade, and possible solutions.
The strategy is a draft document with a number of areas now be consulted upon, the final report is due to be published next July to coincide with the NHS 70 anniversary, as the first comprehensive health and care workforce strategy in over 25 years.
If no further action is taken to reduce demand through prevention, productivity and service transformation, the NHS will need to grow by 190,000 posts by 2027 to meet demand. Proposals for managing and meeting future demand within the strategy are built around six overarching principles:
- securing the supply of staff to deliver high quality care;
- training, educating and investing in the workforce to give new and current staff the professional flexibility and adaptability to meet the needs of patients;
- providing career pathways for all staff rather than just ‘jobs’;
- ensuring that people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to contribute to, and benefit from, healthcare;
- ensuring that NHS in its entirety is a modern model employer with flexible working patterns, career structures, and reward mechanisms;
- ensuring that in the future service, financial and workforce planning are intertwined.
The report tells us there are some areas of strength, 6,000 more staff working in primary care, the highest-ever number of people entering GP training in the history of the NHS. However, increasing the workforce alone is not the only answer, we need to look at ways to tackle the number of vacancies and staff leaving the profession.
This much anticipated report underlines just how big the workforce challenge is and will spark debate, rightly so. I would urge key stakeholders, including patients, service users, carers, to get involved in the consultation and let us know what you think works well or what can be done better to help inform the final workforce strategy for the NHS which will be published next summer."