‘Comprehensive’ NHS workforce plan promised later in year

The NHS Long Term Plan, revealed today by the government arms’-length body, sets out health service leaders’ future priorities and ambitions for the NHS for the next decade.

“The group will show how the future challenges can be addressed for the total workforce”

NHS long-term plan

However, while it includes a chapter on staffing challenges and support, it also states that a plan specifically focusing on the NHS workforce will be published at a future date during 2019, as was hinted by ministers over the weekend.

This separate document, called the NHS workforce implementation plan, will take into account future funding decisions by government and other arms’-length bodies that have yet to be made.

“The funding available for additional investment in the workforce, in the form of training, education and continuing professional development through the Health Education England (HEE) budget has yet to be set by government,” said the long-term plan.

“A workforce implementation plan will therefore be published later in 2019,” it stated.

It added that national bodies NHS Improvement, HEE and NHS England would also establish a “national workforce group to ensure that such workforce actions agreed are delivered quickly”.

This group will include the newly-appointed chief nursing officer Dr Ruth May, a new NHS chief people officer, the NHS national medical director and the other chief professions officers.

“A workforce implementation plan will therefore be published later in 2019”

NHS long-term plan

It will also include NHS England’s first ever chief midwifery officer, along with representatives from unions, royal colleges and think-tanks such as the King’s Fund, Health Foundation and Nuffield Trust.

“The group will show how the future challenges can be addressed for the total workforce, as well as looking at each group individually,” said the long-term plan.

Speaking today on the plan in parliament, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock told MPs that Tory peer Baroness Harding of Winscombe, who is chair of the regulator NHS Improvement, would oversee the development of the new workforce plan.

“I have asked Baroness Dido Harding to chair a rapid programme of work, which will engage with staff, employers, professional organisations, trade unions, think tanks and others to build a workforce implementation plan that puts NHS people at the heart of NHS policy and delivery,” he said.

NHS Improvement

Dido Harding

Dido Harding

“Baroness Harding will provide interim recommendations to me by the end of March on how the challenges of supply, reform, culture and leadership can be met, and final recommendations later in the year,” he added in his statement to the Commons.

The new 10-year plan for the health service was published at 12pm today, after being delayed since the end of last year – reportedly due to the chaos around Brexit.

The blueprint sets out how the £20.5bn annual budget increase for the health service, which was promised last summer by prime minister Theresa May, will be spent.

Ahead of its full publication, some of the main aims and innovations set to be included in the plan were revealed in bite-size chunks over the festive period and in a more comprehensive statement yesterday by NHS England.

Maternity care, children’s services, cancer care, mental health and heart disease were all highlighted as being set to benefit, along with funding boosts for community care, digital technology and prevention.

The last time a 10-year strategy document was drawn up covering the whole health service in England was the NHS Plan, which was published in 2000 by the Labour government under Tony Blair.

  • More details on the NHS Long Term Plan can be found on a website created by NHS England along with the document itself.