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24.01.18

Workforce strategy: shaping the NHS of tomorrow

Source: NHE Jan/Feb 18

Professor Ian Cumming OBE, chief executive of Health Education England (HEE), invites every health professional, patient and service user across the NHS to get involved in the country’s much-anticipated draft workforce strategy.

This year the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, and as we look back on its long history of achievements – as well as the pride that it brings to those who work in and use the NHS – we are already planning for the next 70 years. A future in which we harness new technology, new medicine and new ways of working to ensure patients continue to get what the Commonwealth Foundation has once again crowned the best health service in the world.

On 13 December we were proud to publish the first comprehensive health and care draft workforce strategy consultation in 25 years. ‘Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future – a health and care workforce strategy for England to 2027’ is a whole national system consultation document, produced by HEE with content from NHS England, NHS Improvement, Public Health England, the CQC, NICE and the Department of Health & Social Care.

I strongly believe that the best patient care comes from having the right people with the right skills, values and behaviours in the right place at the right time. Over the last five years we’ve been training more professional staff, including nurses and allied health professionals, and we’ve seen the highest-ever GP training fill rate, alongside increasing investment in emergency medicine, cancer and primary care. It’s something we can be proud of, seeing problems and working hard to solve them.

As the population ages and grows, it’s perhaps no surprise that the demand on the workforce increases, as staff are asked to do more to meet the 2.1 million growth in population. So tomorrow’s NHS – indeed, the whole health and care system – now needs more; it needs us to move beyond fixing problems as they arise to anticipating them, planning for them, and stopping them before they become problems.

When you mention the words ‘workforce strategy,’ you may think of a document jam-packed with endless numbers, graphs and grids. ‘Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future’ doesn’t tell; it asks. It recognises the problems of today and it doesn’t shirk from them. It seeks agreement on proposed solutions and actions, recognising that the size and shape of the future workforce is a responsibility shared across the entire system.

Securing staff numbers to deliver high-quality care, training and investing in the current and future workforce to meet the patients needs, and providing a career pathway for all staff, not just a ‘job,’ are amongst the principals I believe we should adopt for the future workforce.

We know that continuing with a ‘business as usual’ approach to workforce planning is no longer sustainable. There needs to be a major shift in the ways we plan in order to make sure we can meet the health needs of the country’s diverse and growing population in the future.

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 and 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.

As the NHS heads into its 70th year, more than ever, patients deserve nothing less than safe, high-quality and compassionate care.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION
To have your say on the consultation, visit:
W: consultation.hee.nhs.uk 

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