Trust chief nurse and executive Professor Em Wilkinson-Brice has been appointed to the role of deputy chief people officer at NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I).
“I am delighted to be involved in a way that can help shape a new approach”
Professor Wilkinson-Brice will join the government arms-length bodies from Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, where she is currently both deputy chief executive and chief nurse.
The two national bodies, which are currently in the process of merging, said the new position would play a leading role in developing and implementing the NHS People Plan.
An interim version of the plan was published in May and set out a range of ambitions and ideas on workforce issues, especially the ongoing shortage of nurses.
However, the final version of the plan is not due to be published “towards the end of the year”, said the two government arms’-length bodies.
The timing of the full plan is expected to come after the government’s latest spending review is finally revealed in the wake of the appointment of a new prime minister.
In a statement, NHS England and NHS Improvement said the plan would “help the NHS become a better place to work for staff, improve leadership culture, and boost recruitment in key roles”.
“Em’s extensive leadership and clinical experience will be vital in helping the NHS deliver on the people plan”
Professor Wilkinson-Brice will work part-time with NHS England and NHS Improvement during September, before taking up her new role on a full-time basis in October.
She has had an extensive career working in the NHS for the past 30 years, qualifying as a nurse in 1992 in Exeter, before taking up roles in Oxford specialising in cardiology and high dependency care.
She later worked as director of nursing and facilities at Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as well as working at the Department of Health and Social Care, before returning to Exeter in 2010 where she has been chief nurse and chief operating officer.
In recognition of her contribution and leadership of the nursing workforce, she was awarded an honorary associate professorship from both Plymouth University and the University of Exeter.
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Professor Wilkinson-Brice said: “The NHS is at its heart a people organisation – whether that is the people who need care or those delivering it.
“I am delighted to be involved in a way that can help shape a new approach that makes the NHS a more inclusive and engaging place to work and that allows people to fulfil their potential to deliver compassionate care.”
Prerana Issar, chief people officer for NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Em is going to be joining us.
“To make the NHS People Plan a success, we will need to translate our work into a set of actions that make sense to NHS organisations, and support them to make change locally.
“I want to build a team that brings in experience from the frontline NHS so that we can get this right,” she said.
“Em’s extensive leadership and clinical experience will be vital in helping the NHS deliver on the people plan, and the NHS Long Term Plan, to provide a world-class service to patients.”
The Interim NHS People Plan set out several actions that NHS services could “implement quickly” to start making an “immediate impact” on better supporting the workforce, said the national bodies
They cited expanding the NHS retention scheme to all NHS trusts and into general practice, which they claimed had so far helped retain more than a 1,000 nurses, midwives and other clinicians.
They also highlighted that a “new offer” was being developed that would set out what “our staff can expect from the NHS as a modern employer”.
This offer would cover how the NHS will create a “healthy, inclusive and compassionate culture” as well as outlining how staff should have a voice and freedom to speak up, said the two agencies.
In addition, the noted that interim plan asked all NHS boards to set targets for black and minority ethnic representation across their workforce, including at senior levels by the end of 2020-21.
The people plan – formerly know as the NHS Workforce Implementation Plan – forms part of the broader NHS Long Term Plan, which was published in January this year.
The long-term plan promised to provide funding for thousands more nurse clinical placements from 2019-20, representing a 25% increase.
It also pledged to improve nurse retention by at least 2% by 2025, equivalent to an extra 12,400 nurse, and to bring in new national arrangements to support NHS bodies to recruit overseas staff.
Find out more about the NHS Long Term Plan by visiting our special landing page: NHS Long Term Plan