NHS workforce plan gets mixed reaction

NHS workforce plan gets mixed reaction

The much-anticipated NHS workforce plan has been described as a beacon of hope to staff working on the frontline.

But others have said the document is the “latest attempt to fill a leaky bucket”.

NHS Confederation said that the “comprehensive” document will “go a long way to addressing the NHS’s workforce challenges”.

Others have also welcomed the plan but have said that the “details will be crucial”.

Government and NHS officials have previewed the details of the plan but have not yet released the full document.

An outline of the plan set out by officials includes a significant increase in staff and training places, special work on retention of current staff and reducing the reliance on expensive agency staffing.

But the document itself will not be published until 9am on Friday.

NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said that the plan’s ambitions are “promising” and that health leaders eagerly anticipate reading the full document.

Commenting on the document, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “This will be a day that many NHS leaders could be forgiven for thinking would never come, but it offers hope to the almost 1.4 million staff working in the NHS who have been holding out for years for such a comprehensive plan to boost recruitment and retention.

“Based on everything we have seen and heard about the plan so far, we think it will go a long way to addressing the workforce challenges we are facing. But we look forward to seeing the more detailed modelling, planning assumptions and productivity increases envisaged in it to understand the full implications.”

Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive at NHS Providers, added: “This plan must be a pivotal moment for the health service.

“Staff lie at the heart of everything the NHS does, but there is no denying that many are exhausted and burnt out under the weight of mounting pressure.

“National backing to expand recruitment and training, and retain and support staff, is therefore critical to ensure trusts can provide the best care for patients – now and in the future.

“The plan’s ambitions are promising but the details will be crucial. We need to see how it will be funded and implemented, and there must be regular reviews and updates. The commitment to refresh it every two years is a good start.”

Louise Ansari, chief executive at Healthwatch England, said: “All too often, we hear stories of people whose care is delayed, cancelled, or postponed, putting many in danger, due to severe staffing gaps across health and care services. The much-needed funding and resource for the NHS workforce will be essential to underpin NHS recovery in the longer term.

“It is also positive to see the plan invest in technology to support innovative training methods and freeing up capacity for clinical staff.”

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, added: “The publication of today’s workforce strategy will be an important milestone for both staff and patients, and in reinforcing public faith in the NHS.

“We have been clear for a long time that the enormous challenges the NHS faces cannot be met without sufficient numbers of staff, and we hope that this plan will address the long-term workforce issues relating to retention and recruitment.”

But Eddie Crouch, chair of the British Dental Association, said: “This workforce plan is government’s latest attempt to fill a leaky bucket.

“Failed contracts and underfunding are fuelling an exodus from this service. There’s little point training more dentists who don’t want to work in the NHS.”

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The NHS relies on its people and has been in dire need of a long-term workforce plan to ensure it not only exists but is thriving in years to come. We look forward to seeing the full plan, but what we’re hearing are some encouraging proposals.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub