NHS England is to set out a workforce plan to ensure the health service is able to cope with future challenges, its chief executive has said.
Today (30 January) NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard, prime minister Rishi Sunak and health secretary Steve Barclay will outline a series of measures to improve patient experiences and cut waiting times over the next two years, including boosting frontline capacity and “growing and better supporting the workforce”, NHS England said.
Pritchard said the NHS will “shortly set out [its] workforce plan”, which she said was a “once in a generation opportunity to put the NHS on sustainable footing”.
The plans set to be unveiled include changes that will give NHS staff more flexibility to move between hospitals and work in services like 111. Call handlers will also have more opportunity to work from home.
NHS workforce plan
NHS staffing professionals feel overwhelmed and overlooked
Government talks prompt suggestions of one-off pay deal for health workers
The number of emergency medical technicians will also be expanded, although NHS England has not said how many additional roles will be available, or how they will be trained.
The health service will also make greater use of apprentices and student paramedics to boost capacity, and will train more staff in mental health. This is alongside the addition of 800 new ambulances, 100 specialist mental health vehicles and 5,000 more hospital beds.
Services providing urgent care in the community will also be expanded, allowing people to get treated from home, while same day emergency care units, staffed by consultants and nurses, will be opened in hospitals with a major A&E department.
Pritchard said: “We are incredibly grateful to the NHS staff who work day-in, day-out to deliver care to hundreds of thousands of people and for the extensive preparations put in place ahead of winter.
“We introduced more call handlers, more beds and 24/7 system control centres to manage increased demand, and this new plan sets out how we will boost that progress and help improve the experiences of patients who will benefit from quicker, better care, in the right setting.
“The history of the NHS is one of change and innovation and so, while striving to meet the needs of today’s patients, we are also looking to the future of the NHS and will shortly set out our workforce plan – which is a once in a generation opportunity to put the NHS on a sustainable footing.”
Miriam Deakin, director of policy at NHS Providers, said that sustainable recovery of the NHS will be dependent on funded workforce planning. “We look forward to the publication of the long-term workforce plan,” she said.
Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “Ambitions to increase capacity, grow the workforce and improve discharge are very sensible; delivering on these would undoubtedly improve conditions in emergency departments and hospitals.”
The services need to be properly resourced if the plans are to succeed, said Professor Dame Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.
“The NHS has long needed a realistic plan to improve urgent and emergency care and we fully support the steps that are being taken here,” she said.
“Patients and staff deserve better than they’ve been getting so we’ll welcome the way the plan focuses on the areas of the health and secondary care eco-system that are most under pressure. But, what has been set out must be seen as a step towards recovery, not the end point.”
HR opportunities in Healthcare on Personnel Today
Browse more HR opportunities in healthcare