Responding to the publication today by NHS England of the We are the NHS: People Plan 2020/21 and Our People Promise, Hugh Alderwick, Assistant Director of Policy at the Health Foundation, said:
'Two years after it was first promised, the NHS is still waiting for a long-term workforce plan. Some of the measures announced in today’s People Plan are positive. As the plan acknowledges, it is important to learn from the impressive changes made by NHS staff during the pandemic. And improving support for people from black and minority ethnic communities – who make up one fifth of the NHS workforce – is rightly a top priority.
'But there are glaring omissions. The NHS went into the pandemic with a workforce gap of around 100,000 staff, yet the plan does not say how this will be addressed in the medium term. This is particularly concerning at a time when our recruitment of nurses from abroad has dropped dramatically. These details are missing because the NHS is still waiting on government to set out what funding will be available to expand the NHS workforce – without which the NHS cannot recruit and retain the doctors, nurses and other staff it needs.
'While this plan at least provides a stop-gap to help get the NHS through the winter, there is no equivalent plan for social care – a sector suffering from decades of political neglect and the devastating impact of COVID-19 on care users and staff. A comprehensive workforce plan for both the NHS and social care is needed now more than ever'.
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