Hospital Dr News

Interim People Plan sets out future of NHS workforce and nurse recruitment

The Government has launched its Interim People Plan, with the aim of recruiting an extra 40,000 nurses to the NHS over the next five years.

The People Plan is designed to support NHS England’s Long Term Plan, and has the overarching aim of making the NHS “an employer of excellence” – which will value, support, develop and invest in its staff.

The retention of senior doctors is also high in its priorities, with a proposal to tackle the tax rules on pensions so that consultants and GPs are penalised for taking on extra work.

The recruitment of nurses and other healthcare professionals will be enacted through a combination of international recruitment; more nurses entering training; improved retention through better career development; and more flexible working.

There is a plan afoot to link-up with Mumsnet to recruit former nurses. A national return-to-practice scheme was set up in 2014 and is now being expanded. It offers catch-up training and a route back for nurses and support staff who have let their professional registrations lapse.

Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Nigel Edwards said the plan was a good start, but that it needs to be backed up with money and people if it is to be successful.

He said: “A good culture won’t make much headway when staff are seeing unsafe shortages every day. The plan fully accepts the conclusions we reached with the King’s Fund and Health Foundation: the only way to stem the damage in the next few years is immigration of trained staff. Yet the tough new rules suggested for the period after Brexit risk making it impossible to fill at least 40% of nursing roles from abroad, putting the entire plan into jeopardy.

“What’s more, many key measures here simply won’t happen unless they are backed up by funding in the upcoming Spending Review. We agree that staff skills need to keep up to date with new technologies and treatment. But this won’t happen without more money for training staff through their careers, a budget which has been slashed.”

The People Plan places a priority on improving the leadership culture in the NHS, and to develop a workforce that can deliver 21st century care. It wants a workforce with a more varied and richer skill mix, new types of roles and different ways of working, ready to exploit the opportunities offered by technology and scientific innovation.

It also calls for immediate action in 2019/20 while a full five-year plan is developed.

Leaders in social care and the voluntary sector are worried, however, that the lack of an integrated approach to workforce means it could end up robbing Peter to pay Paul. There’s no net benefit in the NHS recruiting nurses from hospices, care homes and community services, they say.

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the GMC, welcomed the plan for doctors. He said: “We are pleased that the plan acknowledges the need for more flexibility for doctors in training as well as placing greater emphasis on the skills and experience of more senior doctors including specialty and associate specialists.

“Bringing medical associate practitioners into regulation will further boost those efforts. It is vital that we have a workforce with the right skills in the right places and with the right support, or doctors will come under even greater strain and patient care will suffer.”

“Alongside this the need to establish a clear view of what the NHS and patients need from future doctors – both in terms of care and geographic need – is long overdue.”

Read more here.

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