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Integration and more data needed for NHS workforce planning


29 April 2015

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The King’s Fund report released today focuses on recent workforce trends in mental health, primary care and community services, also considering the rising use of temporary staff and regional variations.

It says we need a “new approach to training” and fundamental changes to professional regulation and incentives, so that care is delivered in teams based around the patient rather than in “professional silos”.

The King’s Fund report released today focuses on recent workforce trends in mental health, primary care and community services, also considering the rising use of temporary staff and regional variations.

It says we need a “new approach to training” and fundamental changes to professional regulation and incentives, so that care is delivered in teams based around the patient rather than in “professional silos”.

The report supports the New Deal for General Practice announced by NHS England, Health Education England, the RCGP and the BMA in January 2015 to maintain the current workforce. “In the main, the clinical workforce of 2020 is the one we have in 2015,” the report states.

“Part of this responsibility lies with individual organisations and their boards to ensure that they learn from best practice, whether on retention, retraining or changing skill-mix. It also requires employers to be clear about the extent to which affordability has influenced their estimates of future workforce so the system can understand where it is taking risks.”

While NHS England looks after the recruitment of the future, the national bodies must come together to make it clearer who is responsible for managing and recruiting the workforce that is needed today, it states.

“Where there are national opportunities to rebalance supply and demand, support (should be) available so that those opportunities can be taken up. This will include new roles for professional groups such as pharmacists in primary care, but should extend across the available workforce.”

This is only possible, it states, if there is better integration and consistency, therefore more data must be available on theindependent sector, the use of temporary staff and on vacancy rates.  This will allow policy makers to be proactive rather than reactive to workforce difficulties.

The lack of consistency is noticeable today as Health Education England’s work with employers in mental health found that they expected to need less mental health nursing staff, although Health Education England ultimately commissioned more training places.

Responding to the report released today, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said: "The Kings Fund report is a useful addition to current thinking on planning the NHS workforce.  Workforce planning doesn’t of course exist in isolation but is informed by clarity in service planning.”

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “For too long, general practice and filling GP vacancies have taken a backseat in order to shore up other parts of the health service, when the reverse should be happening.

“General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS – we keep the health service sustainable by caring for patients in the community and easing the pressure on hospitals and other parts of the service.”

 

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