Interim People Plan for the NHS

June 4, 2019

NHS England/Improvement published the Interim People Plan for the NHS yesterday. This has been developed over the last few months and sets an agenda to tackle the range of workforce challenges in the NHS, with a particular focus on the actions for this year.

The plan is structured into the following themes, with each theme having a number of immediate actions that need to be taken by NHS organisations to enable the people who work in the NHS to deliver the Long Term Plan. The key themes for in the Plan include:

  • Make the NHS the best place to work.
  • Improve our leadership culture.
  • Prioritise action on nursing shortages.
  • Develop a workforce to deliver 21st century care.
  • Develop a new operating model for workforce.

The plan also includes specific commitments to:

  • Increase the number of nursing placements by 5,700.
  • Increase the number the number of nurse associates to 7,500.
  • Increase the number of doctors and nurses recruited internationally.
  • Work with Mumsnet on a return to the NHS campaign.
  • Better co-ordinate overseas recruitment.

In terms of social care, the Interim People Plan for the NHS does make some reference, including a long-term aim to 'increase clinical placement capacity in primary and social care settings' for nurses, developing the new nursing associate role and working towards better collaboration and joined-up working, which it says must 'be underpinned by a culture of mutual trust, respect and understanding across all the different settings in which health services are provided' including social care.

Interim Chief Executive of Skills for Care, Andy Tilden said, 'We welcome the report’s very clear commitment to working with the 21,200 organisations who offer social care in England that employ 1.47 million people who will all want to play a key role in helping deliver the ambitious themes in this report.

'It is clear from our experience that building sustainable relationships between social care and health professionals and our fellow citizens is the key to delivering the sort of 21st century care we all want to be able to access when it is needed. Around 42,000 nurses work in community and social care settings and we’re pleased to see this is recognised in this report. We look forward to working with NHS colleagues and other partners to deliver the support and development opportunities the workforce in social care and health need.'

Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Network said, 'We cannot provide the level of care that people with mental health problems or learning disabilities deserve and require without the right staff, in the right numbers, in the right places. Nor can we deliver on the very welcome ambitions of the Long Term Plan.

'Mental health and learning disability services have the highest levels of vacancies – recruiting and retaining these staff must be an absolute priority, so it is pleasing to see that recognised in the plan...However, in order for this strategy to be effective, we need to ensure the investment already promised in the Long Term Plan reaches the front line and – as stated in the Interim People Plan – that Continuing Professional Development funding returns to previous levels. We look forward to seeing this reflected in the spending review and the final plan.'

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation has also responded to the publication of the Interim NHS People Plan, saying, 'Our verdict – this is welcome but an effective workforce strategy will need investment. This will need to be delivered in the next spending review.

'We are delighted the plan responds so positively to our call for a much greater role for local leaders in workforce development...

'There is though a need for a much greater alignment with social care. We have to concede that any steps the NHS takes to strengthen its workforce position may unintentionally risk further weakening the social care workforce. We do not need two plans – we need one.

'The Confederation is leading a coalition of 15 health organisations calling for a sustainable social care system and we will continue to campaign for this to be addressed in the forthcoming spending review.'

Read the full report.

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