The Five Year Forward View will fail if the NHS disregards the link between funding and staffing, according to the Health Foundation.
In a report, Staffing matters; funding counts, the think tank says a “disconnect” between funding policies and staffing levels, and repeated reorganisation, has led to a “boom and bust” approach to the NHS frontline.
With a growing shortage of GPs and nurses, the report found that the NHS needs a more “open approach” to funding and staffing, “which aligns the two and ensures that the workforce implications of new policies are carefully considered and planned for”.
The report advises against implementing new roles like the associate nurse and physician associate, deeming them “quick fixes”.
The report warns that there has not been enough discussion around how training will be funded, how many of these nurses will be required and to what timeline.
The report says: “The reliance on quick fixes will only put a sticking plaster on deep-seated and systemic problems for the NHS.”
However, well monitored international recruitment and the new student nursing bursary proposals may fill the workforce deficit in the long-term, with temporary workers filling the gap in the short-term.
“There is no shortage of qualified staff available to recruit in other countries, no lack of specialist recruitment agencies ready to facilitate the process, and, currently, no absence of UK employers anxious to recruit,” says the report.
Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said: “Funding constraints and workforce shortages without a doubt present the greatest risks to the delivery of the Five Year Forward View – and the longer-term sustainability of our NHS.
“The current approach to workforce policy needs to be overhauled so that staffing and funding are treated as two sides of the same coin.
“The recent decision for the UK to leave the EU will create additional challenges – both in terms of finances and the ability to attract and retain valuable European staff.
“We urgently need a fully aligned and coordinated national approach to workforce policy and planning, underpinned by greater predictability on funding, to ensure the NHS can sustain high quality health care for the long term.”