Responding to the publication of a new draft workforce strategy published today by Health Education England, Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research and Economics at the Health Foundation, said:

‘Our most recent analysis of the NHS workforce made it clear that the current approach is not fit for purpose, so it is positive to see this draft strategy promise a new approach.

‘There must be a shift away from the short-termism and under-supply that has plagued workforce planning for too long, and more focus on assessing demand and agreeing future supply and related funding. This should reflect not only the unprecedented demands on the health service, but the wider benefits that an engaged health workforce can have on communities.

‘Any strategy needs to acknowledge the unique pressures now facing NHS employers – not least the growing challenges of recruiting internationally, which has long been the quick fix when the NHS has not trained enough nurses. HEE and the government need to provide more detail on how they intend to reduce the reliance on overseas recruitment.

‘It is not just about numbers. A big challenge will be improving staff engagement and productivity. There are huge regional and organisational variations in workforce instability, caused by high staff turnover, and much more needs to be done to look after NHS staff and meet their aspirations.

‘This report and consultation must be followed by action. The government must deliver an achievable strategy that puts an end to the fragmented planning of the past, and supports individual NHS employers to employ and keep the right workforce for their local needs.’ 

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